A wet and windy Saturday at Hampshire Avenue saw Bognor RFC dominate Eastleigh seconds throughout to win 48-5 in the Hampshire premier – despite awful conditions and a major injury to one of their newest talents.
Josh Burgess, Lee Balchin and Paul Briant all made significant impacts but had contrasting finishes to the game.
Burgess was first to score for the home side after a dominant Bognor scrum, with Chris Webb, Darren Bidwell and Harry Stubbs making mincemeat of the opposition early on. Dave Sweeney converted.
Jeremy Newton-Young was in good form and dealt with early pressure well, clearing his lines to give Bognor important territory. The resulting Eastleigh line-out ended with a Bognor turnover and swift hands from Sweeney and Nathan Archer, with Archer feeding the flyer Sam Newcombe for the second score of the match. .
A Bognor scrum on their own five-metre line saw a turnover for the home side and a gorgeous 70m break from the impressive Briant and Burgess, linking up excellently in midfield. But the scrum-half then suffered a horrific leg and ankle injury and was taken to St Richard’s Hospital. All at Bognor wish him a swift recovery.
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Ex-skipper and man of the match Balchin darted over a lazy Eastleigh breakdown and showed classic footwork. The back row got the offload away to Sweeney who fed a forward pass.
George Castleton and Tom Orchard were dangerous with ball in hand, the away side struggling in defence. Next try scorer was the captain again, Burgess scoring from the base of the scrum to make it 19-0.
Wingers Will Cullen and Paddy Burnett fetched a considerable amount of attacking ball and were making yards with every run. Debutant Chris Hay was edging his way into it in a difficult environment for a young scrum-half.
Carry after carry from loosehead Webb meant there was surely going to be a try from something he created. Orchard supported the big prop who offloaded magically out of the left hand for him to finish in the corner.
Castleton finished the half with a typical poacher’s try, the No6 stealing the opposition lineout and dotting down with ease – 31-0.
In the second half captain Burgess scored his hat-trick thanks to a scrum pushover try. Easy pickings for the No8 who was enjoying every minute of this home encounter.
Darren Bidwell and Harry Stubbs were a nuisance at the ruck area – phase after phase the youngsters alongside Balchin smashed the opposition backwards.
The penultimate score came from Burgess. Great hands saw the big man go over again and make the score 43-0, Sweeney kicked the extras.
Burgess and Tom James were taken off at 55 minutes for James Barlow and Matt Cox, the two substitutes making very good impacts in defence and attack.
The only slip from the home side all day saw Eastleigh break through the back line and finish in style over the try line.
But the game wouldn’t have felt complete without a try from expert finisher Burnett, and he obliged by sprinting past his opposite man after some lovely hands in the midfield.
Savage defensive efforts from Balchin, Webb and Archer saw the home side close the tie with a turnover on the try line.
This weekend the men in green travel to take on Tottonian twos.
Bognor: Webb, Stubbs, James, Bidwell, Orchard, Castleton, Balchin, Burgess, Briant, Sweeney, Burnett, Archer, Newcombe, Cullen,
Newton-Young, Cox, Barlow, Hay.