Bognor’s veterans’ XV embarked on their annual weekend tour to Weymouth determined to keep their winning streak of the past few years going – and did so in emphatic style by disposing of Swanage and Wareham 45-20.
Tour captain and organiser for the past 15 years Mike Lewin was speechless and emotional at the end of a thrilling encounter.
Bognor set out their stall with man mountain Lee Williams making inroads to the Dorset side’s defence. Leaving a trail of defenders in this wake, he offloaded to the youthful Tom Spurle to canter under the posts.
The tourists attacked hard, the pack dominating the phases before unleashing their potent backline to attack. Mark Gordon weaved up-field before releasing flying winger Chris Pigden and his perfect pass to the supporting Tony Johnston and a clever offload to Williams secured another great try.
Bognor didn’t have it their own way – Wareham found a weakness at scrum-half where Paul Mitchell had a less successful day. His misunderstanding with stand in No8 Steve Worthington led to all three of Wareham’s first-half tries and Bognor found themselves 15-12 down.
Lewin rang the changes at half-time, replacing Mitchell with older brother Nigel, who showed his brother how it was done with a man-of-the-match performance, along with a host of experienced players utilising the squad of 25.
John Baldwinson dominated the lineout and a perfect catch and drive had the try line begging. Rob Parry, now at scrum-half, added his power to the drive and dived over.
There was no stopping the champagne rugby and ex-marine Gareth Williams’ power and pace split the hosts’ defence before he sidestepped the full-back and cantered between the uprights. This was followed by a perfect training park move, with Gordon in full flight for another team try.
The front row of Joe Greenslade, Lewin and Timmy Dowle had the hosts in trouble in the scrum. From a five-metre scrum they shunted the opponents back at a rate of knots and Worthington fell over the line unopposed.
Ex-Wasps full-back Richard Hay spotted Sargent on the wing and his pinpoint cross-kick had only to be collected, but the giant carpet-fitter stumbled over his own feet and ended up face in the mud.
Bognor saved the best ’til last. Deep in their own in-goal area they spread the ball, Johnston dummied his way past several defenders and great handling along the back-line found Barry Mitchell thundering down the wing.
As he was clattered, his offload was perfect for first-team manager and pensioner Roger Hammond to jog round under the posts for a brilliant try and go down as Bognor’s oldest try-scorer in the club’s 46-year history.
BOGNOR: Lewin, Sargent, Dowle, Greenslade, Johnson, Worthington, Baldwinson, L Williams, G Williams, Gordon, Spurle, Ship, Parry, Pigden, O’Brien, Hay, Hammond, Cullen, Parsons, Brown, Rimmer, O’Connor, B Mitchell,
N Mitchell, P Mitchell.