Bognor hammered the Isle of Wight 113-0 in Hampshire League division one on a momentous day in the club’s history.
Lee Balchin was leading his men out for the last time at Hampshire Avenue after announcing he is stepping down as captain at the end of the season.
The home side were full of emotion and young starlet Paddy Burnett opened the scoring within 30 seconds, the speedy winger being fed the ball by full-back Joshua Riggall. Sean Power converted.
Every single Bognor player carried like a train. Venci Angelov and James Barlow looked particularly fired up and linked well throughout the game, the latter clearing every ruck in sight with the Bulgarian making light work of the contact area.
Jack Hornibrook on the wing looked deadly with ball in hand alongside Sam Newcombe, the two using their blistering speed and silky hands to full effect.
George Castleton and Balchin, either side of the Bognor scrum, delighted the crowd and brutal defence and hard-running lines proved why they are two of the most important and inspirational players to ever play for the first team.
The game was very largely one-way traffic, though IoW had a very small spell in the Bognor half. But the home side defended like Spartans, relentlessly forcing the away side back.
Huge hits were flying in from Balchin and Joshua Burgess, the No8 loving his new-found position.
Billy Toone was enjoying his game at nine, the experienced scrum-half using his kicking game to pin IoW back and serving up star passes for youngster Power to play with.
It was no shock that Pat Gains was in among it throughout – the northerner has been one of Bognor’s best operators this season; his intelligent chat and savage skill set bring an extra fire to the Bognor RFC belly.
Chris Webb used his brute strength to make yards and revealed a more dainty side with his dancing footwork and beautiful handling skills.
Bognor continued to dominate in every aspect and at half-time Tom James was replaced by Riley Chute in what looks to be the Fijian’s last match for Bognor, who wish him all the best for the future.
Jeremy Newton Young was brought on for player-coach Toone with Darren Bidwell replacing James Barlow.
Bidwell made an instant impact, bursting through the opposition’s defence before feeding fellow substitute Newton-Young, who danced his way over the line. Power converted again and Bognor were now out of sight.
Newcombe made light work of his opposite man, as he has done so often this season. The No13 sure can defend as well and IoW didn’t know what to do.
Balchin was having the game of his life and his ferocious carrying and defence made the crowd and his team-mates roar. The home side continued to rack up the points.
Power slotted 13 out of 17 kicks and the young fly-half has 87 per cent kick success this season. Balchin said: “This is what it is all about, I love this team and we go again next Saturday at Overton. Thank-you to all the boys that have played for me.”
Bognor: Webb, Angelov, James, Barlow, Knight, Balchin, Castleton, Burgess, Toone, Power, Burnett, Gains, Newcombe, Hornibrook, Riggall, Chute, Newton-Young, Bidwell.