Victory over Pumas is a big Bognor bonus

Graham Broome touches down for Bognor / Picture by Tommy McMillan
Graham Broome touches down for Bognor / Picture by Tommy McMillan
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Bognor won their game in hand 36-18 away to Locks Heath Pumas and claimed a bonus point to put the pressure on Hampshire League division one leaders Millbrook.

The game was staged at Gosport with Locks Heath shifted from their home ground because of the imminent cricket season.

Locks Heath were already relegated but had a point to prove to their new coaching staff.

Bognor received and the fast, open and wide style soon paid off, with a sweeping move stretching the Pumas defence and resulting in a superb try out wide for the flying Irish outside centre Pat Gibbs, which went unconverted.

From the restart, quick ball through the backs caused panic in the Pumas defensive line and after four or five phases a pick and go was not handled very well by the close defence and Bulgarian powerhouse Venci Angelou made 15m before crashing over under the posts for a try converted by Calton.

Pumas’ old heads cleverly slowed ruck ball down and their tactics were deemed okay by the referee , and anything Bognor tried was deemed a penalty.

It was a hard-fought affair, but the five points gained in search of promotion are everything.

As the penalty count mounted, frustration was beginning to show. Pumas kicked a penalty, and followed it with a breakaway try for the hosts.

Bognor looked disjointed and it got worse when No8 Lee Balchin was injured and scrum-half Liam Newcombe pulled up with a hamstring problem.

Bognor had to shuffle the dominant pack and rearrange the whole back line, introducing full-back Josh Riggall and Welshman Grant Thomas.

The referee disallowed a fantastic try by Burgess, the final offload deemed forward, and this was followed by a questionable foot in touch which surprised everyone. Pumas carried on spoiling, Bognor carried on getting penalised.

At half-time Bognor’s coaches told the players to play their own game and stay away from the ‘arm-wrestle’.

The second half started with a good Bognor response and after a supreme passage of play, Jack Hornibrook, the flying winger, and Clare, the elusive centre, added to the tally with fine tries, converted by Calton.

Then captain and outstanding player Jack Tompkins was lost to a bang on the head, obviously concussed.

Another reshuffle was needed as hooker Broome was introduced, but Pumas plugged away and as a blatant knock-on was missed and the Bognor defence watched in disbelief the Pumas’ No7 waltzed over for a five-pointer.

Hard yards were made and on the occasion quick ball was produced rewards came, Broome being in the right place to receive a missed pass to crash over from ten metres, standing the ball on its end and celebrating more in relief than joy.

Prop Angelou was removed after a hand injury, leaving Bognor with 14 men.

Locks Heath got a third and Irishman Gibbs got his second.

It was a hard-fought affair, but the five points gained in search of promotion are everything. This week Bognor travel to Fareham Heathens in a second v third clash that could make or break either side’s season.

Bognor are equal on points with Millbrook, who have a superior points difference, and Fareham are one point behind in third.

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