Rugby: Bognor are back with a bang

Bognor's class of 2017-18
Bognor's class of 2017-18

A team that was a mixture of youth and experience pulled on the green and purple to give Bognor a winning start becak in the top flight of the Hampshire League as Overton were beaten 26-17 at Hampshire Avenue.

Before the game there was a tribute to Jimmy Colwell, who everyone at the club loved and adored and who died last week.

The contest started in lacklustre fashion from both sides. Neither could keep hold of the egg and quick easy ball seemed a mile away in the early stages. Overton dominated in the breakdown through commitment of numbers and good ruck play.

A lineout in Overton’s 22 led to a steal from Bognor’s new elite lineout poacher Darren Bidwell, who cruised over after breaking the tackle of the Overton No6 and scored to make it 5-0. Sweeney converted.

The forward pack of Bognor were focused on the fancier stuff but kept the Overton attack at bay under high spells of pressure. Awesome line speed and shots were implemented by George Castleton, Chris Webb and Venci Angelov.

Then a piece of wizardry occurred in the back line as Sam Newcombe finished off a magical try down to the skilful work of his pacy comrades Dave Sweeney, Pat Gains and Will Cullen. Shane Stevens played a pivotal role too.

We all have to step up and ensure mistakes are ironed out gradually if we are going to challenge in this league.

Shane Stevens

Mistakes in the handling began to appear. From kick-off Angelov and Tom James linked up with some nice offloading and support lines; only for a poor offload to Stevens which led to an interception from the Overton winger and a score followed. This made it 14-7.

Lee Balchin, the stalwart of the Bognor side, took himself off after brutally clearing a ruck and damaging himself.

Debutants Aaron Cook and Gains began to come into their own, Cook rucking consistently and Gains breaking the line with almost every carry.

Cullen went off after a head injury and Bognor’s express train Josh Burgess entered the fray. Joshua Riggall began to carry hard and use pace he has worked hard to get back after a long spell out with a ruptured Achilles tendon.

Overton ended the half with a great penalty from the No10 and the score was 14-10.

The second half was less scrappy from both sides, returning scrum-half Billy Toone having given the boys a stern but effective chat during the huddle.

Overton scored on the breakaway but Bognor were not fazed.

Tom James ensured the opposition pack knew exactly were they stood with two monstrous hits on the bounce, the first leaving Overton’s tighthead on the deck for a good three minutes.

Adam Knight continued to do the dogwork in the back row and ensured clean ball for Toone.

A shock yellow card followed for the usually well-disciplined James, but this only spurred Bognor on, with Burgess scoring after a big carry to make it 21-17 with a few minutes left.

Casim Ali continued to dominate in the scrum with Chris Webb in the engine room providing the horsepower. Webb carried into the Overton 22 and won a penalty.

Sweeney nudged a jaffa into the corner and Bognor chose to drive. Castleton, Bidwell and Ali secured an excellent maul, with the returning James scoring in the corner.

Bognor now look forward to a visit to Millbrook this weekend and will be back on the training ground to make sure they improve.

Vice-captain Stevens said: “We all have to step up and ensure mistakes are ironed out gradually if we are going to challenge in this league.”

Bognor: Cook, Mitchell, Angelov, James, Webb, Bidwell, Castleton, Balchin, Toone, Sweeney, Stevens, Riggall, Cullen, Newcombe, Gains, Burgess, Knight, Ali.

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