On a cold, blustery day Bognor secured their first win against old adversaries Fordingbridge - winning 12-10 in Hampshire to extend their lead at the top of Hants League division one.
The hard-fought victory kept Bognor’s unbeaten record in tact.
Bognor won the toss and elected to play into the wind, aiming to capitalise on it in the second half. Despite this, Bognor actually started the better of the two sides.
After great footwork from former water-polo ace Shane Stevens, fly-half Josh Riggall found Josh Burgess with a short pass. Collecting the ball at pace, the rotund centre made good ground before the ball was moved to Danny Passingham, who was forced into touch.
Fordingbridge replied in earnest, their talented fly-half orchestrating several promising attacks but Bognor managed to hold firm. Veteran centre Tom Watson in particular worked hard to keep the Fordingbridge backs quiet.
After a handling mistake from the home side, a scrum on the halfway line was re-set several times, with both front rows arm-wrestling to gain the upper hand. Eventually young loosehead Joe Greenslade got the better of his opposite man and Bognor had the front foot.
Now under pressure, Fordingbridge rushed a clearance kick that found its way through the hands to Passingham out wide.
The winger took the kick in his stride some 60m out, beat the first two defenders for sheer pace, and stepped inside the fullback for a fantastic individual try – his first for the 1st XV. Stocky full-back Jack Hornibrook converted and Bognor took a 7-0 lead into half-time.
The home side truly came out all guns blazing in the second half. Their inside centre made a telling break and Fordingbridge found themselves camped in the Bognor 22.
The scrum reshuffled because of an injury to Hooker Mark Hogsdale and Bulgarian Powerlifter Venci Angelov came on to add his considerable mass.
Resolute defence kept Bridge out for around six phases before they spun the ball wide for a simple score. The conversion was missed, the score 7-5.
Bognor managed to find another gear. Carries from flanker Lee Balchin and second row Tom James established excellent field position- it was then only a matter of time Bognor scored again.
Swift hands from James Barlow almost put Stevens in down the right-hand side but he uncharacteristically failed to gather.
More pressure followed before estate agent and No8 Jack Tompkins negotiated the sale of a ludicrous dummy to saunter over the line for Bognor’s second try to open up a 12-5 lead.
What followed was a very nervous period for Bognor. Hogsdale, back on for Graham Broome, who battled hard but took a knock to the head, led the Bognor defence with some textbook chop tackles.
MoM Jacob Masters was relentless around the ruck all day, completed several key turnovers and disrupted the home side’s lineout more than once. Some fisticuffs erupted and a man from each side was sent to the sin-bin. This seemed to spur on Fordingbridge, who scored again out wide - conversion missed.
Fordingbridge tried in vain to find a winner but Bognor’s defence held firm for one last time.
This week Bognor enjoy a week off before they welcome Sandown & Shanklin to Hampshire Avenue on December 5 – the first of three home games before Christmas. All support is appreciated and a friendly welcome is guaranteed.
BOGNOR: Greenslade, Ubsdell, Broome, J Barlow, James, Masters, Balchin, Tompkins, Newcombe, Riggall, Stevens, Burgess, Watson, Passingham, Hornibrook. Angelov, Howard.
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