Bognor RFC began 2016 with a 13-0 loss against fellow promotion hopefuls Millbrook in a reversal of their previous meeting at Hampshire Avenue.
The win saw Millbrook displace Bognor in first position in division one of the Hampshire League on points difference.
In the first half, Bognor will be disappointed to have not produced any real attacking threat.
The forwards produced disjointed and unproductive ball from the ruck despite dominating the lineouts and scrums. The backs then struggled to put together simple passes and kicks with the limited ball on offer.
There was however a heartening return for Harry Dyer. Early on, the talismanic flanker put in a trademark hit on the large Millbrook outside centre.
Unfortunately referee Peter Woodward deemed the tackle illegal and Millbrook took the three points on offer. Woodward had another fine and fair game with the whistle.
Bognor mounted an attack of their own but a scoring offload from Jack Tompkins to Josh Riggall was adjudged to be forward. Millbrook then began to put some phases together without really making any ground.
A missed tackle from Bognor allowed the Millbrook fly-half to scoot through a gap. The cover defence was not quick enough to recover and Millbrook bagged a converted try.
Millbrook grabbed another penalty just before half time after an infringement at the ruck. Strong words were had at half time and Bognor’s second half performance was a marked improvement on their first.
The Bognor pack eventually delivered some decent ball from the ruck. Jacob Masters and Mike Page made good carries and then the ball was whipped wide. It took three men to bring down the gargantuan Josh Burgess who knocked on in the contact and the attack came to nothing.
A reshuffle in the backs saw Welshman Gareth Edwards introduced and Patrick Gibbs moved to fly-half. Bognor managed to shut down most of the Millbrook attacks with Chris Clare making some excellent covering tackles on his opposite number.
It was Clare who made the most yards for Bognor in attack. The flying winger was returning from a nasty back injury but it seemed as though he had never been away as he darted 60 metre downfield, beating five players in the process.
Tom Watson, the veteran left winger, also had his chances but the Millbrook defence was organised enough to keep him at bay.
A final break came from Sam Newcombe, deep inside his own half. He tried for a scoring pass to Gibbs but knocked on in the process. Cheers from the Millbrook team and sideline developed into a scuffle as referee Woodward called an end to the game.
Bognor now have a weekend off before an away fixture on January 30. Coaches Rob Outen and Martin Broome will hope four training sessions between now and then will allow Bognor a chance to regroup and rectify their mistakes.
BOGNOR: Greenslade, Broome, Angelov, J Barlow, Masters, Tompkins, Dyer, Page, Newcombe, Riggall, Watson, Burgess, Gibbs, Clare, Toone. Ubsdell, Castleton, Thomas.
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