Bognor missed out on a place in the Sussex Shield final as a squad hit by injury and non-availability ended up well-beaten 39-3 at Burgess Hill.
The young squad, including two rookie props, were up against probably a big, well-drilled pack.
Bognor started brightly and took the game to Burgess Hill, who elected to play up the considerable slope and against the breeze.
The ball was moved quickly away from the Hill forwards by scrum-half Newcombe through Rob Parry’s hands to centres Burgess and Clare.
It was the aim to keep Hill moving with quick ball, but core skills like handling let Bognor down and this led to scrum after scrum, in which Hill crucified the Bognor pack.
MoM Mike Page at No8 picked up some incredible balls from the back while retreating at a great rate of knots as Hill’s tight five put on the pressure.
Parry planted ball after ball behind Hill’s defence to turn round the big forwards, but Hill scored after a drive over.
Bognor returned up the field and broke the Hill defensive line in the corner with winger and ex-GB cross-country runner Shane Stevens offloading to ever-present Parry, who dotted down in the corner. Unfortunately the ref over-ruled the touch judge and gave foot in touch.
Bognor stole the lineout and Hill infringed, and Parry brought about some sort of justice by slotting the penalty.
Hill camped in the Bognor 22 and scored just before half-time with another driving maul.
The second half was almost a different game as Hill used the slope and played Bognor’s game with a very effective kick and chase mixed with punishing forward power.
Hill scored four times with no Bognor reply and full-back Jack Hornibrook was run ragged with five or six try-saving tackles and real enthusiasm at the ruck area turned over a lot of ball.
By this time the whole Bognor pack looked drained if not battered, but to the players’ credit they competed to the end.
This week (March 21), it’s the big one at Hampshire Avenue. Bognor are at home for the final time in the league, trying to maintain their 100 per cent home record – but against US Portsmouth, who have not lost in the league so far.
With a league lunch preceding what should be a cracking game, it’s the perfect day to head to Hampshire Avenue for the 3pm kick-off.