Bognor leave themselves with too much to do at Reigate

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Old Reigatians 43 Bognor 17

London two south west

In many ways, this was a disappointing carbon-copy of last month’s encounter between these two sides, Reigatians again building a big first-half lead and leaving Bognor to chase the game in the second half.

The home team threw the ball around for the first 40 minutes and scored five tries to Bognor’s two but, in the second half, there was a reversal of territory and possession with Bognor camped on the opposition line for long periods.

Unfortunately for the visitors they were unable to turn their dominance into points and the second half ended one try apiece.

Injury and illness meant Karl Flinn and Luke Rokotakala replaced by Tim Stickland and Stuart Pearce. Despite the presence of one or two veterans, this was the youngest side Bognor have fielded all season – as illustrated by the presence of two 19-year-olds in the second row.

Bognor were caught napping at the first scrum when they conceded a penalty, converted by the Reigatians centre.

The visitors had to defend hard for several phases before breaking away and gaining 70m through fine passing between forwards and backs. Dave Sweeney kicked well to set up a lineout five metres from the home line and Jack Tompkins offered himself well during the onslaught.

Eventually Rob Parry scored a try to put his side into the lead.

Sweeney made a clean break, chipping and gathering himself before passing to his support, but the pass was not taken. For the next 20 minutes, Bognor gave away soft tries down both flanks when there seemed no danger. On one occasion the defence seemed to freeze while Reigatians carried on in slow motion to touch down in the corner.

Graham Broome, on for Armandus Morgan, grabbed a try back but the home side’s tails were up.

Pearce was unlucky not to be awarded a try by an unsighted referee and Reigatians rubbed salt in the wound by scoring their fifth after a move that contained two forward passes.

At 36-10 down there seemed no way back for Bognor, especially when they conceded another try early in the second half.

But instead of collapsing and losing by a cricket score, they showed great character to dominate the rest of the match. Jonny Lang had an outstanding game and there is no doubt the youngsters benefited hugely from his leadership and direction.

Dan Brock had a fine game and was Bognor’s man of the match while Tompkins again demonstrated his huge potential with his all-round display.

Joe Burns worked hard and fully deserved his try as Bognor hammered away at the line. Reigatians had two players yellow-carded for killing the ball in front of their own posts and they spent the last half-hour defending desperately.

Despite their efforts, Bognor lacked a little imagination and were unable to capitalise further on their numerical and territorial advantage.

The game petered out to its inevitable conclusion but the performance of the youngsters was enough to provide optimism for the future. This Saturday Bognor entertain East Grinstead, a side who have invested heavily in playing resources this year, in the semi-final of the Sussex Trophy (2.30pm).

BOGNOR: Brock, Stevens, Pearce, Burgess, Archer, Sweeney(C), Parry, Morgan, Ben Burns, Joe Burns, Harding, Tompkins, O’Connor, Lang, Stickland. Reps: Broome, Dove, Wolf.