Rugby: Bognor lose but look back with pride

Jack Hornibrook sidesteps his man at Millbrook   Picture by Tommy McMillan

Jack Hornibrook sidesteps his man at Millbrook Picture by Tommy McMillan

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Bognor’s season came to a disappointing end as they lost 40-10 away to second-placed rivals Millbrook.

The result meant they ended March having played four games without picking up a single point.

Despite falling short in their promotion bid in Hampshire League division one, Bognor can take pride in the improvements they have made as a team over the past year under the guidance of coaches Rob Outen and Martin Broome.

BRFC now have a strong and youthful squad – albeit one currently riddled with injury.

Bognor limped into the game still licking their wounds from the game with US Portsmouth and with league positions already settled, both Millbrook and Bognor were playing for bragging rights and pride.

As it kicked off it was clear Bognor were still on the bus. Millbrook dominated the first half without breaking sweat and a host of Bognor players fell off tackles allowing the Millbrook tighthead prop to flop over from close range.

The first XV have extended their thanks to everyone who has supported them through the season and they hope for continued backing in 2015-16.

Bognor set up an assault on the Millbrook liner. Fly-half Josh Riggall soldiered his way into the game despite having suffered a twisted knee just a few weeks ago. The decorator read a Millbrook play perfectly to grab an interception.

Big carries then followed from No8 Mike Page and young prop Doug Lewis, who was sporting a delightful chinstrap beard. Sadly, after a driving maul Page was held up in the corner despite support from fellow back rower Adam Knight.

Millbrook stuck another two tries on Bognor before the half-time break. Riggall was forced to retire after a recurrence of his injury. Rookie Sam Newcombe filled in at fly-half and Jack Hornibrook went to scrum-half. The dangerous Mitch Brock came on at full-back.

The second half began in the same haphazard manner as the first. Captain Jack Tompkins decided to run the ball from his own line. He saw Mark Ubsdell in support but, instead of giving a simple pass to his old chum, he elected to throw the ball on to the ground. Brook capitalised and scored a try a few phases later.

That spurred Bognor into life after an hour of total slumber. Nathan Archer managed to get his hands on the ball after his centre partner Josh Burgess finally picked himself up off the floor having been sent flying by his opposite number.

Archer made a break and looked clean through but Millbrook infringed giving Bognor a penalty. Tompkins atoned for his earlier blunder by tapping quickly and feeding veteran winger Tom Watson.

The finish, for a player of Watson’s experience, was elementary – skipping past two defenders to dot down in the corner.

Millbrook pressed from their kick-off to force an error. A period of intense scrummaging then followed to the great joy of athletic prop Lee Thompson, spurred on by news of a winning tip at Kempton.

Eventually Millbrook grabbed another converted score but Bognor replied quickly after undoubtedly the finest individual moment of the season.

Chris Barlow rocked his opposite number with an enormous tackle and gratefully snaffled the loose ball. He then sold an audacious dummy and the Millbrook defence parted. Barlow hurtled forward with the try line in his sights.

The only bother for Barlow was the 50m of free space ahead. Utterly bewildered by the lack of opponents in front of him, the giant second row got the speed-wobbles and fell, just short of the line.

From the scrum Millbrook looked to break but were again shut down by Barlow. Jamie Archer, introduced for the injured Hornibrook, fed the forwards from scrum-half. Mark Ubsdell bagged his third try of the season after a snipe from short range.

Millbrook scored another try before Bognor had one last attack. Speedsters Chris Clare and Mitch Brock came close to scoring a long rang effort but were halted by some good cover defence.

Vice-captain Josh Burgess said: “It’s been a good season but fair play to Millbrook – we just weren’t top boys today.”

The first XV’s season is now over while Bognor’s second and third teams each have a fixture to come on April 11.

The first XV have extended their thanks to everyone who has supported them through the season and they hope for continued backing in 2015-16.

BOGNOR: Thompson, Ubsdell, Lewis, Masters, C Barlow, Tompkins, Knight, Page, Newcombe, Riggall, Watson, Burgess, N Archer, Clare, Hornbrook. Langridge, Brock, J Archer.