Bognor were beaten 9-3 in a tight Hampshire premier game at home to Havant’s second XV.
Bognor started well with the likes of Lee Balchin and Chris Webb getting hands on ball within the first five minutes and were using the tip-offs well to exploit the space.
The scrums began well for Bognor but Havant got to grips with the big Bognor front row and the battle commenced. Shane Stevens and Darren Bidwell were working overtime in the lineout and in the loose.
Birthday boy Sam Newcombe was first to make a big break and used his quick feet to get past his opposite number, but the ball was knocked on a few passes later and Bognor had to reset.
Some poor discipline from Bognor meant Havant had the first scoring opportunity of the game with a penalty, which was converted by their skilled kicker.
Billy Toone and Jeremy Newton-Young were in control of the Bognor pack and backs all game, and some brutal forward phases led by Tom Parsons and Josh Burgess gave Bognor real front foot ball. However, Havant were defending well and were a nuisance around the breakdown.
Nathan Archer looked at home at inside centre, in full control of his channel. The back three of Chris Hay, Dan Robinson and Paddy Burnett looked slightly nervy under the high ball.
Havant scored another penalty after more infringements at the breakdown from the home side, but despite the away team’s score advantage they couldn’t get out of their half. Shaun Bailey was dominating the contact area and looked at home at hooker.
Just after half time it was 6-0 and Balchin made a magical break to run in from 50m before being stopped just at the line by ex-Bognor fly half Dave Sweeney, who had copped a few big hits from the back row man. An excellent war was ensuing between both teams.
Luke Inkle was introduced for Balchin for his Bognor debut, the big flanker making an almost immediate impact with a hit on the opposite tight head. He looks a great asset for Bognor.
Webb was in full swing and bundled closer and closer to the try line with the help of Burgess and Co. Robinson was close to scoring after lovely footwork out wide, and both teams were defending well. Bognor managed to claw a score back with Jeremy Newton Young scoring an easy penalty.
The match was always within Bognor’s reach but the away side were defending immensely and Bognor’s own small handling errors were ultimately their downfall.
Will Cullen and Harry Edwards were brought and both enjoyed great carries and did some awesome work in the heat.
The referee gave Havant a penalty after a silly Bognor turnover and the kick was good, making it 9-3.
Bognor: Webb, Bailey, James, Bidwell, Stevens, Balchin, Parsons, Burgess, Toone, Newton Young, Burnett, Archer, Newcombe, Robinson, Hay, Edwards, Cullen, Inkle.