Bognor turned on the style in front of a large home crowd to beat Teddington 31-23 in London three south west.
The tone was set from a big George Castleton carry from kick-off, and a few phases later Shane Stevens went one-on-one with his winger and showed him a clean pair of heels to score from a classy 30m run-in.
Bognor did the basics well, making no mistakes off the kick-off and working their way up the pitch to get a penalty in front of the posts.
Lee Balchin, as cool as ever, signalled to the posts. Josh Burgess stroked the ball over for an 8-0 lead.
Bognor were totally dominant but Teddington were not going to lie down. Sure enough Bognor’s enthusiasm in the contact and at the breakdown led to a penalty. Teddington, knowing they were in a dogfight, chose to kick and made it 8-3.
Excellent defensive work from Chris Barlow and brother James gave Bognor turnover ball. Huge carries from props Chris Webb and Tom James gave Bognor consistent possession all game.
Bognor found themselves 20m out. Michael Calton spotted a gap and hobbled through, putting Josh Burgess in under the sticks. Burgess converted his own try for a 15-3 lead.
Teddington woke up and Bognor had to defend. Wave after wave of attack was stopped short but after a few dubious penalties, Teddington found themselves five metres out.
A case of mistaken identity found captain Balchin in the bin. Some huge hits in midfield from Nathan Archer and Burgess stopped anything going through the backs and Ben Burns and Jacob Masters were heroic in defence. But some good phase play and the extra man eventually showed as Teddington got a well-deserved try which was converted – 15-10.
Bognor got straight back into it and an excellent turnover in their own 22m and young scrum-half Jake Emerson whipped the ball out and with a couple quick passes, the ball found Nathan Archer in space. He ran half the length of the pitch to dot down in the corner and it was beautifully converted by Burgess.
The second half brought a fantastic performance from Bognor. Emerson and Calton started to control the game and Bognor kept the ball for multiple phases – for the first time this year.
Teddington got another penalty and the No15, who had an excellent boot all game, nudged it over to make it 22-13.
Again Bognor responded well and won the ball from kick-off and again kept the ball for several phases with Castleton, Balchin and Webb regularly breaking half-tackles.
Teddington had to infringe to stop the attacks and Bognor slotted the three points.
Bognor gave away a penalty which was nudged five metres out. The ball bounced up perfectly for the big No8 to fall over the line –it went uncoverted so the score was 24-18.
Bognor put Teddington under real pressure and another great turnover at the ruck area by the Bognor pack. A phase or two later and a lovely break by Burgess led to a silky offload to Connor Satturley, who showed several classy touches and passed to Castleton, who was stopped just short.
Quick ball again from Emerson and a nice pass from Calton put Chris Barlowin the corner to give Bognor the bonus point.
Teddington didn’t stop playing and some wonderful quick hands saw them score out wide for a try not converted.
It was a magnificent effort from the whole squad, coaching team and large vocal crowd of more than 160.
Thoughts now turn to Saturday’s crunch match away to US Portsmouth.
Skipper Balchin said: “It was a big win and something we need to build on for the rest of the season.”
Bognor: Webb, Burns, James, Barlow C, Barlow J, Masters, Castleton, Balchin, Emerson, Calton, Stevens, Burgess, Archer, Hawkins, Satterley, Mason, Bidwell, Power.
* Bognor’s third team beat Hove 41-5 with hooker Paul Mitchell scoring his first try after nearly 30 years of playing for Bognor – to add to a try from Gordon Bailey, fresh from a six-month holiday.
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