Bognor RFC hope their first win of the season – a 27-22 success over Millbrook in London three south west – can be the springboard to further success.
They started well against former Hampshire League rivals Millbrook, playing with clear intent to spin the ball and attack out wide.
But Millbrook drew first blood when captain Lee Balchin put in a monster hit on his man but was deemed to have not rolled away quick enough – and Millbrook kicked the three points to take the lead.
Bognor, undeterred, continued to play expansive rugby and the return of Pat Gibbs brought a spark to the Bognor back line.
Some cracking running rugby saw Gibbs, with a trademark outside arc, beat his man and put winger Will Cullen in the corner. Cullen, still with a lot to do, and finished in style beating four players in limited space to dot down for the first try.
Almost straight from kick-off, a great take from Chris Barlow led to Bognor recycling at pace and running the ball wide, breaking through out wide.
They were delighted to have got the first win – now it’s time to push on and carry on the momentum.
After some fantastic offloading, Sam Newcombe was held up five metres short and then quick recycling led to big Chris Webb running a cracking line, breaking through three would-be tacklers for the try of the season so far for Bognor.
Injury started to hit as full-back Mike McMcurron quite badly dislocated his thumb. A slight reshuffle saw Mike Calton come on at fly-half.
Bognor were now in full flow and playing quick rugby. A good move saw Shane Stevens make a half break through the middle and Lee Balchin sold a great dummy and bounced the winger before putting Ben Burns in the corner for a well-taken try. But Bognor missing nine points from the boot left Millbrook still in the game.
Millbrook got a couple of penalties to gain field position. Captain Balchin was sent to the bin and Millbrook scored. This was well-converted and somehow they found themselves only five points behind at the break.
Bognor, now without Gibbs, knew they needed to close out the game. An early penalty to put them more than a score ahead rattled against the post.
Early field position and good work by the forwards gave Calton space to put a dink in behind and Cullen was through for his second to make it 20-10.
Silly penalties let Millbrook work their way up the pitch and score again. This was not converted so it was 20-15.
With 15 minutes to play it looked like it could go either way even though Bognor were playing all the rugby. Another Bognor yellow made life more difficult. But they came together and some great phase play allowed Nathan Archer to glide through under the posts.
Millbrook again got some cheap penalties and kicked their way up the pit and got over the line and converted. It was 27-22 with three minutes left but Bognor managed to close out the game and George Castleton boomed the ball into touch as Bognor’s win was confirmed.
Bognor will be disappointed with the penalty count that kept Millbrook in the game and missing 14 points from the boot which could have put the game to bed. But they were delighted to have got the first win – now it’s time to push on and carry on the momentum.
They have no game this week but go to Old Tiffinians a week Saturday.
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