Promotion favourites Guildford produced a superb all-round performance and deservedly beat Bognor 19-0 in London two south west, consolidating their position in second place.
Other results again went Bognor’s way so they stay third from the bottom with crucial contests to come, including matches against closest teams Gosport & Fareham and Weybridge Vandals.
Having lost narrowly to Guildford earlier in the season Bognor believed they could win, but they met a side at the top of their game – probably the most complete team that they have played all season.
Ironically Guildford’s only obvious weakness lay in their finishing, poor final passes denying them a bonus-point.
Bognor defended resolutely, sometimes almost heroically, and coach Karl Flinn is upbeat about the youngsters thrown into the deep end this season.
Guildford gave an early indication of their intent by attacking from deep. Their pressure was halted by a great turnover from George Castleton who rubbed salt in the wound by driving the home side backwards with a 50m touchfinder.
Guildford were not deterred for long and, after Rob Parry had missed touch, their winger rounded Shane Stevens and cut inside to link with his support. Four pairs of hands later and Guildford were over for their first try.
Parry, suffering from an ankle injury, struggled to find touch and Bognor, desperate to get their hands on the ball, only put themselves under more pressure. Pat Gibbs battled behind a retreating pack and Dan Harding stood out for the second week running with ferocious tackling.
Neither could do much about the next try which came directly from a heel against the head at a five-metre scrum.
After 20 minutes Bognor were 14-0 down. The fact they conceded a mere five points in the next hour spoke volumes for their team spirit and defensive effort.
Josh Burgess gave his team-mates a boost with a thundering tackle on his opposite number, and desperate defence by Jonny Lang and Lee Thompson helped keep their line intact.
Malfunctioning set-pieces, added to Guildford’s superiority at the tackle area, ensured Bognor rarely touched the ball, a point highlighted by the fact they did not visit the home 22 at all in the first half.
Graham Broome was forced off with a back injury, but old warhorse Joe Greenslade was undeterred and set about his business. Parry came off just after half-time, allowing youthful Tom Watson to make his first-team debut. Steve Dove came on to bulk up the set-pieces but Guildford remained in the driving seat and went further ahead when their fly-half soared through a gap and touched down under the posts.
Burgess, now in his preferred position of centre, hit a great line to make a break and Bognor began to build pressure. Lee Balchin broke from a scrum in his own half and fed Pat Gibbs, who made a good forty metres before being hauled down.
Saving their best until last, Bognor drove to within two metres of the Guildford line but the home defence held firm. An easy three points was rightly ignored by Balchin as his side pressed for a consolation try but it was not their day and they left empty-handed.
This Saturday Bognor entertain Old Reigatians who, despite losing at Twickenham, have been showing consistent form and are fifth in the table.
BOGNOR: Sweeney, Stevens, Castleton, Pearce, Burgess, Parry, Gibbs, Morgan, Mitchell, Broome, Harding, Thompson, Stickland, Lang, Balchin. Reps: Greenslade, Dove, Watson.