BOGNOR’S unbeaten run in 2015 came to an end as they suffered a defeat at Fordingbridge on Saturday.
On a bright and sunny afternoon Bognor travelled through the New Forest to face their old adversaries and a large crowd swelled for the occasion. An afternoon of fine running rugby ensued but Fordingbridge put Bognor to the sword with an impressive second half display.
The visitors elected to play with the wind in the first half and some excellent kicking from Jack Hornibrook, Josh Riggall and Sam Newcombe kept Fordingbridge in their own half.
However, on their first visit to Bognor’s half, Fordingbridge took a three point lead following a converted penalty.
The response from the visitor’s was excellent.
Shane Stevens showed all of the skills gained from his days as an amateur high jumper to cleanly gather the restart.
Hornibrook kicked to the corner after the referee penalized Fordingbridge at the ruck.
Masters soared high to take the lineout and, not for the first time this season, the man mountain Josh Burgess bundled over the try line.
Bridge responded with a score of their own.
A mix up at the back saw the Fordingbridge winger gather the ball and score in the corner.
Chris Clare hit back with a poachers finish, getting on the end of an offload from Riggall to scamper over.
By now, Bognor were under huge pressure at the scrum with the inexperienced prop partnership of Casim Ali and Ryan Langridge having to battle hard against their opposite numbers all afternoon.
From a scrum Bridge exploited the blindside and talisman Harry Dyer was adjudged to have made a high tackle.
The referee sin-binned Dyer, who was replaced by Adam Knight.
Fordingbridge then took full advantage by scoring in the corner to take a 17-14 lead into interval.
Bognor were instructed to cut down on the errors and continue to pressurise Bridge after the break.
However, the home side executed a superb second half game plan; with their fly-half and centre using the tail wind to rain kicks down on Hornibrook.
Fordingbridge scored after taking a lineout deep in Bognor territory and then battling their way over from a short distance out.
Jamie Archer was introduced and immediately made an impression with a clever kick to the corner, which was fumbled by his opposite number.
Chris Clare again showed his killer instinct and pounced to score.
Thereafter Bognor began to falter.
Fly-half Riggall limped off with a knee injury and Dan Harding was introduced in the second row to try and shore up the scrum.
But Fordingbridge began to spin the ball wide and scored a further four tries in what proved to be a rampant finish from Bridge.
A torrid and miserable afternoon was compounded for Bognor when they failed to convert scoring opportunities to grab a bonus-point try, meaning Millbrook now leap-frog them into second place by a point.
Next week Bognor travel to Burgess Hill for the Sussex Shield semi-final.
They will need on an improvement in performance if they are to progress.