Bognor RFC’s third team won the Sussex Vase, beating Crowborough at Horsham RFC in a thriller of a final.
They took the field looking to make a strong start against a Crowborough side who were experienced and tough opponents.
It was Crowborough who started brighter and their No8 was immense all day.
Gradually Bognor began to get a foothold. After an excellent run by Jon Robbins at open-side and carries by superb second rows Tom Davis and Harry Edwards, the ball was recycled quickly near the Crowborough line, resulting in Karl Flinn storming over for the first try. Dave Granville slotted the conversion for a 7-0 lead.
Crowborough came storming back, their back row carrying hard only to be met by superb tackling by forwards and backs.
The Bognor front row of Coxy, Mike Teague and Marc Voigt put their scrum under real pressure, while jumpers Ben Wilkinson and Jon Collins stole some important lineouts when Crowborough threatened.
Bognor scored their second try when, following lovely quick hands, the ball found its way out to the left wing where Lee Russell twisted and turned his way past a number of defenders to score.
More hard running from Crowborough resulted in further penalties against Bognor, one of which was knocked over to bring the score to 12-3 before half-time.
The second half started badly for Bognor, as Crowborough scored on the right wing – 12-8 and the game felt like it could go either way.
Gradually things got better for Bognor, with the backs starting to get more success, and they scored their third try thanks to Freddie Burgess, who charged down a clearing kick from Crowborough before catching the ball and sprinting under. Converted – 19-8.
Crowborough refused to be beaten and a penalty was knocked over.
At this point Bognor produced some of their best rugby, with excellent support running and soft hands seeing the ball end up in Russell’s hands and he sped about 30 metres to the try line, weaving past a number of defenders before bravely diving over in the corner.
Still Crowborough fought and after a slightly ill-advised kick they ran through some weak tackles to score a converted try under the posts.
They followed this with another try to leave the score at a nervy 24-23 with about ten minutes to play.
He showed the speed of a centre to outstrip any covering tackle and score about halfway between the posts and the touchline, leaving Sweeney a tricky but important conversion. He showed nerves of steel to make the kick look easy and open an eight-point lead.
The last five minutes dragged and huge hits were needed to repel Crowborough.
Bognor indiscipline added to the pressure and eventually Crowborough crashed over in the corner to bring the score to 31-28.
To everyone’s relief, the referee indicated the conversion would be the last play, meaning the cup would be Bognor’s.
This was a great game of rugby against a strong and well drilled Crowborough team, played in a great spirit on a fantastic day which hopefully has made everyone’s efforts this season seem worthwhile.
Big thanks went to those who went to offer much needed support.
Better news followed on Sunday when the final divisional tables came out showing Bognor III had finished top of the league.