The highly anticipated first game of the season in the new Hampshire premier division brought a blockbuster start for Bognor as they beat old rivals Millbrook 39-5.
Bognor got off to a flying start with debutant and St Mary’s University graduate Dan Robinson first to score points for the home side; the lanky full-back finishing well in the corner after soft hands from centres David Sweeney and Sam Newcombe.
Bognor continued to control the game and hard forward phases spearheaded by Chris Webb and Scott Barlow gave the Greens a platform. But second row Bidwell gave away an early penalty to the dismay of the crowd.
When Milbrook had the ball, Bognor were savage in defence. Lee Balchin, playing hooker for the first time, looked at home in the loose, partnering the returning cannonball Graham Broome. The pair dominated the collision area and scrum time.
The next score came from birthday boy Shane Stevens. Best mate and captain Josh Burgess carried hard through the centre of the field and supplied Hornibrook with quick ball, the whippet shipping it out to Newcombe who bounced his opposite man and hit Stevens wide.
Sean Power was running the show with Sweeney, the two conjuring up sorcery after hard carrying from back row George Castleton and new addition Paul Briant, who has come from Surrey and made an instant impact at the club.
Both teams had ten minutes of dropped balls and knock-ons plagued the midfield and Millbrook capitalised on a Bognor mistake to pick up a loose ball and counter attack. 10-5.
Bognor re-established some momentum and the phases started to build again, replacement Casim Ali was brought on for Balchin and did well after months out of the game. Paddy Burnett wanted a taste of a meat pie and got his skates on, the rapid winger finishing under the posts. 17-5.
The game saw Barlow and Briant blast rucks to pieces frequently, Webb was as always gobbling up opposition with his footwork and fend. Power slotted a penalty from the left side to make the score 20-5 and it was halftime.
Ex-captain and life long servant Castleton was next to cross the white stuff, the 6 weaving in and out of a few defenders before crashing over. Power converted magically, 27-5.
The try of the game came after some pungent hands from the half backs and centre Sweeney, Hornibrook hit Power who used his dirty dancing to break the line and feed his hero Dave; the 12 then passed out wide to Newcombe who used his blistering pace and power from his new leg tattoo to score in front of an intoxicated Bognor contingency. 32-5.
Adam Knight and Will Cullen entered the fray, Adam was pinged for a big hit out wide that was perfectly legal. Cullen looked sharp even after a long spell away from first team rugby. The final score came once again from the human doodle pad Shane Stevens, the tall winger topping off his birthday with a brilliant score. 39-5.
Burgess said: “I’m happy with how the boys played. It’s not easy facing a big rival early in the season. But we came out on top.”
Bognor: Webb, Balchin, Broome, Barlow, Bidwell, Castleton, Briant, Burgess, Hornibrook, Power, Stevens, Sweeney, Newcombe, Burnett, Robinson, Ali, Cullen, Knight.