Rugby: Bognor happy to be playing again - and winning

Bognor go over for another score  Picture by Warwick Baker / warwickpics.com
Bognor go over for another score Picture by Warwick Baker / warwickpics.com

After eight weeks of waterlogged pitches, Bognor finally managed to play a game at home - though, in this case, home meant the Littlehampton Academy.

Understandably Southampton were somewhat reluctant to travel the extra distance to play at a school but, as this was one of the few playable pitches in the whole area, there was never any real choice. And it was Bognor who went the extra mile on the pitch by running out 59-3 winners in the Hampshire League division-one clash.

Bognor capitalised on the co-operation shown by the academy’s groundsman by putting together a competent display of rugby, scor ing nine tries in all, despite heavy conditions exacerbated by a nasty hailstorm.

Referee Ben Bulpett penalised Bognor twice for offside in the opening two minutes, the Southampton fly-half converting the second opportunity to put his side into an early lead.

It took just three minutes for the home side to hit back, however, when veterans Karl Flinn, Rob Parry and George Castleton combined to put Shane Stevens over for his fifth try of the season.

Bognor began to dominate possession and territory, playing intelligent rugby into the strong wind. Skipper Jack Tompkins and centre Josh Burgess were prominent in ensuring their side was on the front foot, but the conditions made handling difficult and Bognor were guilty of several unforced errors as well as continuing to annoy the referee.

Midway through the first half, winger Chris Clare set off on a strong run up the left touchline. When stopped, he found Armandus Morgan in support and the big prop showed a deft touch by giving a scoring pass to Tompkins. Lee Shergold kicked his second conversion to put his side into a 14-3 lead.

Despite having the wind advantage Southampton were unable to gain any meaningful possession or territory while Bognor were now putting together some impressive phases.

Clare danced his way once more 60m down the touchline before the ball was moved to the other side of the field. The forwards took over with some powerful drives before Parry flipped the ball inside to Flinn, the No8 making no mistake from close range.

With the wind at their backs and a 16-point lead under their belt, Bognor began the second half in confident fashion - and in a matter of seconds, Tompkins flipped the ball out of the back door allowing Castleton to cross for the bonus-point try.

Graham Broome added to the visitors’ misery by twice smashing through their tiring defence. Henry Strickland supported well and was only just hauled down a couple of yards from the line. However with one or two visiting players looking as if they wanted to throw in the towel it was only a matter of time before the dam burst completely.

From a lineout Parry fed Tompkins, who again linked seamlessly with his back-row partner Castleon, Bognor’s ex-skipper gliding over for his second try.

Try number six soon followed when Connor Satturley provided the final pass for Josh Burgess to score his first of the season near the posts.

Shortly afterwards Parry harried his opposite number on a Southampton put-in and came away with the ball. Dan Harding, enjoying himself at flanker, was on hand to smash his way over for another impressive score.

Prop Vee Angelov drove over for the penultimate try and Burgess made amends for some earlier greediness by scoring his second. Shergold converted five second-half tries.

This Saturday Bognor travel to Farnborough knowing that they need to put on a much better performance than when they lost to them at Hampshire Avenue back in October if they are to have any chance of success.

BOGNOR: Riggall, Stevens, Burgess, Brock, Clare, Shergold, Parry, Morgan, Ubsdell, Angelov, Barlow, Harding, Castleton, Tompkins, Flinn. Reps: Broome, Strickland, Satturley.