Bognor RFC ended their mini losing streak in great style when won 27-12 at fourth-placed Fordingbridge with one of the best displays of the season.
The Hampshire League division one victory was all the sweeter because injuries and late withdrawals meant the unfamiliar line-up included a mixture of veteran warriors such as Johnny Lang and Joe Greenslade, together with youngsters Sean Power and Danny Greenslade, both starting for the first time.
For the Greenslade family, it was a proud occasion as, for the first time in the club’s history, father and son played together for the first team.
Bognor began strongly and, despite the conditions, put together several phases of attacking rugby. Josh Burgess looked the part in his new position of No8 and used his considerable bulk to carry strongly into the home defence.
It was no surprise when Bognor opened the scoring, Pat Gibbs touching down following a scintillating break by Sam Newcombe. What was more of a surprise was 17-year old Power calmly stepping up to convert superbly from the touchline into a strong wind.
Despite having the majority of the possession the visitors were unable to add to their score in the first half and Fordingbridge hit back with a try of their own after a period of sustained pressure.
With the benefit of the conditions in the second half Bognor knew the match was in their grasp and player-coach Billy Toone made his expectations absolutely clear in his half-time talk.
Some great running and inter-passing by the Greenslade duo saw the ball moved to Josh Riggall and the big centre crossed for Bognor’s second try. Power converted nonchalantly.
Fordingbridge reduced the lead to just two points with some impressive driving play and, for a short time, it was back in the balance.
The scene was set, then, for Power to enter the fray once more and stroke over two penalties with consummate ease, one from 42 metres and the other from 37 metres. Clearly the young fly-half has the X-factor when it comes to goal-kicking and his man-of-the-match award was well-deserved.
Late replacements Ryan Langridge and Seb Perez worked tirelessly for the team while skipper Lee Balchin put in his usual shift of 100 per cent effort and commitment. Newcombe continued to cause havoc in the home defence with his pace and angles of running.
The icing on the cake came in the final minutes when Chris Webb smashed through a tiring defence to score a great try, an apt reward for his tireless work all afternoon. Needless to say, Power back-heeled over the final conversion to announce, well and truly, his presence on the senior stage.
After all the travelling of recent weeks Bognor look forward to welcoming Ellingham and Ringwood to Hampshire Avenue on Saturday (2.30pm kick-off).
Bognor: Gibbs, Burnett, Newcombe, Riggall, D Greenslade, Power, Toone, J Greenslade, Lang, Webb, Langridge, Barlow, Balchin, Burgess, Knight. Reps: Archer, Perez.
* Bognor Rugby Club are offering a new opportunity for 16 to 18-year-olds.
If you’re 16-18 or finishing Year 11 and looking for your next steps and rugby is your thing, perhaps you’re looking to develop your playing skills while gaining nationally-recognised qualifications such as BTEC diploma in sport.
If so, you’re invited to a trial on February 12 at 6.30pm at Bognor Rugby Club, Hampshire Avenue.
For more information please contact firstname.lastname@example.org