Rugby: Bognor errors mean it’s over at Overton

After dominating the first half of their Hampshire League division-one game at Overton and, at one point, looking as if they were going to run away with the game, Bognor suffered from a catalogue of errors and eventually capitulated 33-22 in an embarrassingly-dire second-half performance to a side who had not won a match all season.

Without Harry Dyer, Dan Harding and Vee Angelov in the pack, as well as the two regular scrum-halves, Bognor turned to the old heads of Karl Flinn, Rob Parry and the Mitchell brothers for some much-needed experience.

Despite some rustiness, the old guard put in creditable performances - but not even they could prevent Bognor’s worst defeat so far against a team who visibly grew in confidence with every passing minute of the second 40.

The visitors began strongly enough with Josh Burgess taking the ball up the middle and Parry starting to pull the strings behind. It was Overton, though, who scored first when they kicked an easy penalty after their excellent scrum-half had torn through Bognor’s defence.

Bognor began to exert control and put some phases together, resulting in Lee Shergold making a clean break near the opposition posts. The referee initially awarded a try but changed his mind as he realised that the young fly-half had grounded the ball over the wrong line.

Parry took matters into his own hands to score the first try of the match in the corner. Worryingly for Bognor, however, was the fact that, despite 20 minutes of total domination in terms of both territory and possession, they found themselves just two points ahead.

The concerns of Bognor’s loyal band of supporters were temporarily dispelled when Shane Stevens gathered a clever Parry cross-field kick to score the visitors’ second try. Unfortunately, instead of increasing the pressure on a struggling home side, Bognor allowed them a rare visit into the 22 from which position Overton drove a lineout to score a crucial try.

If Bognor were wondering how they could be only four points ahead at half-time, Overton wasted no such time on negative thoughts. Now with the advantage of a pitch sloping steeply to one corner, they not only fancied themselves to win but knew exactly how to go about it.

From the first minute of the second half the Overton half-backs began kicking for the corner, allowing their forwards to pressurise the visiting eight and they did not have to wait long for their reward. A mistake at the back of a scrum allowed them to score their second try and, ten minutes later, a driving maul resulted in a third.

Now two scores behind, Bognor were guilty of trying to force the pace and the inevitable handling errors followed. Overton went further ahead with a penalty before an interception allowed them to gallop forty metres down the field, their No8 eventually crashing over for his hat-trick try.

Overton’s simple second-half tactics had paid off and the game was lost but, to their credit, Bognor salvaged a bonus point with two late tries of their own from Paul Mitchell and Matt Smith.

Bognor know there will be more of the same away to the Isle of Wight on Saturday and a more passionate display will be needed if they are to have any hope of coming away with the spoils.

BOGNOR: Satturley, Stevens, Burgess, Clare, Riggall, Shergold, Parry, Morgan, Ubsdell, Broome, Strickland, Barlow, N Mitchell, Tompkins, Flinn. Reps: P Mitchell, Smith, Brock.