Buoyant Bognor too hot for Alton

Shane Stevens bursts through for Bognor   Picture by Tommy McMillan
Shane Stevens bursts through for Bognor Picture by Tommy McMillan

Bognor’s comprehensive 65-0 victory over Alton ensured they retained their solid second place in the Hampshire League first-division table, despite third-placed Millbrook pushing league leaders US Portsmouth to within five points and gaining two losing bonus points in the process.

The Hampshire Avenue troops scored 11 tries and played some of their best rugby of the season in the first half.

Alton, bottom of the league, were not at their best and Bognor could have had a handful of further scores had poor concentration and handling not let them down.

The game started in just the manner Bognor hoped for with Harry Dyer claiming the kick-off and some bruising short phases following from the forwards. Jack Tompkins made a half-break and offloaded to Nathan Archer who rampaged down the pitch. Quick ball from Jack Hornibrook fed the backs and prop Luke Calleja bounced his way over for his first try of the season.

In the first 20 minutes, Bognor played the game at a high tempo and whippersnapper Hornibrook was next on the scoresheet after Chris Clare made a dazzling break down the touchline.

He found part-time model Josh Riggall in support and he offloaded to Tompkins, in turn giving Hornibrook the scoring pass.

Alton tried to slow the game but referee Ciaran Treloar penalised several illegal attempts at the breakdown and allowed the game to flow by rewarding positive play for both sides.

Bognor kicked for the corner and Mark Ubsdell threw to the unusually-athletic Jàmes Barlow. Mike Page broke from the maul but was held up illegally just short of the line.

Bognor again kicked to the corner from the penalty. This time Hornibrook fizzed a pass from the maul to Riggall and the fly-half organised a delightful move allowing Josh Burgess, like a human locomotive, to power under the posts.

With three tries under their belt, Bognor took their foot off the gas, much to the frustration of coaches of Outen and Broome.

The half-time whistle came and Dan Harding was introduced for the second half. Bognor quickly grabbed the bonus-point try they desired. After some big carries from Venci Angelov and his front-row colleagues, Hornibrook grabbed his second by selling a dummy from the base of the ruck and scampering over the line.

Shane Stevens was next over the whitewash. Jacob Masters soared to take clean ball at the lineout and the hefty Josh Burgess barged his way through his opposite number. A short pop pass to Stevens and the ex-gymnast let his pace do the rest.

Bognor looked as though they were going to score every time they got the ball, but the second half began to fragment after silly knock-ons and poor decision-making.

After a period of sustained pressure in the Alton 22, Hornibrook jockeyed his way over two tackles and offloaded beautifully to veteran Tom Watson, clearly inspired by his cousin Anthony’s performance against Wales.

Alton were ready for the final whistle, but Page grabbed an opportunist try from a charged-down kick. Another try followed for Calleja after a length of the field team effort.

Bognor ran in the rest of their tries through Nathan Archer finishing off a long-range burst from Stevens, Page grabbing his second off of a powerful scrum and Chris Clare outsprinting his opposite number to score in the corner.

This week Bognor go to Hellingly in the Sussex Cup and all support is welcome for the long trip to East Sussex.

BOGNOR: Calleja, Ubsdell, Angelov, J Barlow, Masters, Tompkins, Dyer, Page, Hornibrook, Riggall, Burgess, N Archer, Stevens, Clare, Watson, Langridge, Harding, Newcombe.