Having suffered five consecutive defeats and with their confidence shaken to the roots, Bognor put on a passionate display away to the Isle of Wight to notch up the most important victory of the Hampshire League division-one season to date - 19-15 the score.
Although the winning margin was just four points, a more accurate reflection of the match was the fact that the visitors outscored the Islanders by three tries to nil and were dominant in almost every area.
The home side, belying their lowly position in the league, applied all the early pressure in Bognor’s half. The visitors’ defence, though, looked solid and a 50m clearance from Rob Parry gave his side the opportunity to launch some attacks of their own.
After eight minutes Josh Burgess did well to collect a loose pass on the half-volley and the big centre crashed over the gain line. When the ball came back, Parry linked well with skipper Jack Tompkins, Shane Stevens finishing the move by touching down for the opening try. Parry’s touchline conversion gave his side a seven-point lead.
Bognor proceeded to give away a succession of penalties for offside and breakdown offences, the Islanders’ kicker eventually finding the target with a 25m kick from straight in front. Parry replied by rattling the woodwork from 40m, only to see the ball bounce back harmlessly on the wrong side of the posts, leaving Bognor with a 7-3 half-time lead.
The Islanders, playing down the slope in the second half, clearly believed this was going to be their day, a feeling enhanced when a second penalty narrowed the gap to a single point straight after half-time.
Veteran flanker George Castleton, however, was having none of it and after a couple of typical barn-storming runs he smashed through the home defence to score Bognor’s second try.
The visiting forwards, led by Graham Broome and Dan Harding, were making deep inroads into the Islanders’ defence and the latter’s work at the tackle area complemented the dominance his team were already showing in the set-pieces.
Bognor were almost over a couple of times but a breakaway by the Islanders’ scrum-half gave his side much-needed respite deep in Bognor’s half. Two more successful penalties for the home side interspersed by a yellow card against Burgess for going off his feet at a ruck meant that, with an hour played, the scores were level again.
Finally, Bognor capitalised on their scrummaging superiority when Tompkins picked up and fed Parry, now playing at scrum-half for the injured Horneybrook, inside the home 22. The veteran Welshman passed to Connor Satturley and the youngster did well to touch down in the corner, allowing Parry the easiest of conversions.
Unfortunately, instead of pulling away, Bognor continued to annoy the referee and their indiscipline gave the Islanders renewed hope, a fifth successful penalty narrowing the gap to just four points with five minutes left.
A great tackle by Harding, judged by no-one else except the official as being high, gave the opposition a final chance to steal the game as they kicked for the corner and one last crucial lineout. Justice was done when Tompkins crowned a man-of-the-match performance by soaring high for a clean take against the throw, allowing Parry to tap the ball safely into touch.
Bognor will look to build on this improvement when they entertain Alton on Saturday in front of what is sure to be a big crowd, rich in humour after the annual Christmas lunch (2.15pm).
BOGNOR: Reed, Stevens, Burgess, Upton, Clare, Parry, Hornibrook, Morgan, Ubsdell, Angelou, Strickland, Barlow, Harding, Castleton, Tompkins.
Reps: Broome, Satturley, Riggall.