Millbrook magic shows Bognor deserve their top-three finish
Bognor finished third in the Hampshire premier table - some 23 points clear of the team in fourth - as they ended a fine season with victory at Millbrook.
Bognor started quickly against a team they have never beaten away from home. Billy Toone began proceedings with a quick tap penalty after strong Bognor scrummaging, and the experienced scrum-half fed Chris Webb, who smashed over the white wash. Dave Sweeney converted.
Millbrook were enjoying the majority of the territory in the high winds and Bognor were fighting against in the first half. Despite this the away side defended brutally with some huge hits coming in midfield from Tom James, who was to be voted man of the match for big carries and great defence, George Castleton and Adam Knight.
The whole Bognor squad looked fired up and wanted the win. Captain Josh Burgess was carrying hard as usual and Darren Bidwell was supporting him, the young back row/second row utility going over after six excellent phases out wide.
Sweeney, in his last game for Bognor, was conjuring up sorcery as always, the fly-half making his opposite number look silly with some slick hands and lovely running play.
Bognor went to sleep for five minutes and Millbrook took advantage. After some great defence from James Barlow and Venci Angelov, the Millbrook No5 broke the line and fed his winger who dotted down to reduce the deficit to 12-5.
Nathan Archer and Sam Newcombe paired up in the centres once again and were enjoying themselves, carrying with intent and looking to get the ball wide when possible.
Next up was another impressive try from the excellent Webb. Sweeney broke the line and popped it to the big man who broke five tackles to slide under the posts – 19-5.
Millbrook were ill disciplined at the start of the second half and made a few mistakes in front of the posts. Sweeney took full advantage and shot to make it.
George Hutchinson was introduced and was thrown in at the deep end with a couple of tough scrums and savage defensive phases.
Toone was controlling the game brilliantly with his kicking and passing; bizarrely, however, after a Sweeney kick the home side’s No11 caught the high ball and ran straight through the whole Bognor side – 22-12.
The Bognor back three didn’t have much too do in attack but they stepped up incredibly hard in defence and made no errors.
Shane Stevens, now captaining, made a brave hit on the Bognor 10m line to prevent a certain try. Dan Robinson and Paddy Burnett communicated like they’d played together for years and made Millbrook’s territory kicking look useless.
A Bognor catch and drive led to the final score of the game after Millbrook collapsed the maul two metres out. Powerful work from substitute Gordon Bailey and lineout jumper Adam Knight meant it finished 29-12.
It was a whirlwind of a day for Bognor and a win well deserved, and the players thanked everyone who has supported them this season.
Bognor: Webb, Angelov, James, Barlow, Bidwell, Castleton, Knight, Burgess, Toone, Sweeney, Stevens, Archer, Newcombe, Burnett, Robinson, Hutchinson, Bailey, Cullen.