Bognor notched their first London two south west victory of the season - 14-12 - with a passionate and composed performance against Effingham & Leatherhead, a team they have failed to beat for the past two seasons.
After three straight defeats Bognor knew only a victory would do and they rang the changes, with Pat Gibbs moving to an unaccustomed position at centre, Graham Broome to prop, veteran Steve Dove to lock and new Polish import Bogdon Mongu on the bench.
Bognor attacked from kick-off and had the visitors under pressure inside the 22. Hooker Ben Burns found Nigel Mitchell and a well worked move looked to have unlocked the Eagles defence, only for the final pass to go astray.
After Bognor pressure but no score, the Eagles pounced on a mistake and Bognor paid. Great handling by the visitors’ backs released their winger down the left, a great tackle by Dan Brock at full-back prevented the try, but the lineout was driven by the visitors and the try was squeezed in at the corner.
The home side soaked up ten minutes of pressure – their defence was sound and fantastic discipline kept their opposition at bay. Skipper and inspirational leader Lee Balchin led with bone-crunching, try-saving tackles.
A turnover by veteran Nigel Mitchell was spread to Ben Archer and his weaving run bamboozled the defence. His pass released young winger Josh Burgess, who sprinted away and drew the defence to hand off for Brock to race under the post for a wonderful converted try.
Man of the Match Jack Tompkins dominated in the air and plucked a perfect ball for the backs to attack. Rob Legg set the back-line away with precision passing and Gibbs fed Ashley Butt. The youngster picked the ball up inside his own half and his sheer pace beat several defenders for an outstanding individual try to give Bognor a healthy 14-5 half-time lead.
Armundus Morgan’s pace set up a great position. Tompkins and Lee Thompson combined but as a try was beckoning the referee picked up a technical infringement.
The second half saw neither side able to assert themselves.
The Eagles ensured a tense end when a bounce wrong-footed Bognor and the Effingham winger scored a gift-wrapped try.
Bognor ended down to 14 men as Legg dislocated his shoulder.
The Eagles had a late attacking lineout, but Tompkins snatched the ball for the forwards to count the clock out to rapturous applause from the big crowd.
Bognor travel to bottom side Twickenham on Saturday.
BOGNOR: Brock, Butt, Gibbs, Archer, Burgess, Parry, Legg, Flinn, Mitchell, Balchin, Dove, Tomkins, Morgan, Burns, Broome, Mongu, Thompson, Stevens.