Bognor edged past Sandown & Shanklin 13-10 but failed to pick up a bonus point, allowing the destiny of the Hampshire League division one title to slip back into the control of rivals Millbrook and Fareham.
Bognor headed to the Isle of Wight for the second time this year but were without the injured Lee Balchin and Venci Angelov. Dan Brock was away.
S&S kicked off and immediately man-of-the-match Nathan Archer made an impact. A big carry from the No7 sent his opposite number flying.
Ben Burns and Jack Tompkins crafted a delightful lineout and Josh Burgess made an incisive break through the middle. The ball was recycled to Tom James who was unlucky to be penalised for holding on.
S&S established territory in the Bognor half. After a period of pressure they were awarded a scrum five metres out from the Bognor try line. S&S gave it a mighty shove and were soon over for a converted score.
Bognor responded almost immediately. Pressure on the catcher from Jacob Masters saw Ben Burns snaffle the loose ball. A further carry from little bit larger brother Joe Burns followed before snazzy fly-half Mike Calton slotted a neat drop goal.
In contrast to the game against Fordingbridge, nothing seemed to be going Bognor’s way and S&S used their knowledge of a difficult home pitch to keep the pressure on Bognor. A missed penalty attempt let Bognor off.
Chris Webb battered his way through and Chris Clare made a dart through the middle of the S&S defence and earned Bognor a penalty. Calton calmly took the points leaving it 7-6 to the hosts at half-time.
The back threesome of Shane Stevens, Tom Watson and Jack Hornibrook all came close to scoring. Bognor established territory and veteran winger Watson was bundled into touch just yards short.
Hornibrook then almost got on the end of a Calton kick but the ball just slid over the dead ball line. Stevens then failed to convert in a two on one situation.
S&S to their credit defended stoutly all afternoon and missed very few up-front tackles. Eventually though Bognor broke the deadlock. Welsh heavyweight Gareth Thomas was introduced at No8 and he fed Irishman Patrick Gibbs.
Gibbs threw a dummy then burst through. He darted round the full-back and stumbled over the line, to Bognor’s delight. Calton converted.
S&S thad a man sent to the sin bin after a fracas broke out. They weathered the Bognor attack again and by the time their man was introduced Bognor had brought on Lee Mason to bolster their scrummage. The excellent Mark Ubsdell took a deserved break.
S&S mounted a final a nerve-racking assault on the Bognor line. Some outstanding defence from Bognor eventually yielded a turnover from Calton. Bognor cleared their lines and there was huge relief for coaches Outen and Broome.
Bognor now enjoy a week off before heading to Locks Heath Pumas in a rearranged fixture. All support is welcome for Bognor’s final and crucial four fixtures.
The league is still with open with Fareham top and Bognor and Millbrook five behind – see the full table on page 112.
BOGNOR: Ubsdell, B Burns, J Burns, James, Webb, N Archer, Masters, Tompkins, Gibbs, Calton, Stevens, Burgess, Clare, Watson, Hornibrook. Mason, Thomas, M Brock.
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