Bognor get the Blues after another slow start

Once again Bognor started disastrously when they visited Old Blues in London three south west - and they gave themselves a mountain to climb by conceding soft tries early in the game.

Winning the second half with a stirring fightback was scant consolation after Old Blues had scored four tries and were virtually out of sight by half-time. The final score was 29-11.

The Blues kicked off in glorious conditions on a perfect pitch and capitalised on Bognor’s hesitancy by claiming the ball in front of the noses of the visitors’ forwards. Quick recycling, a half-break, a simple pass - and Bognor were a try down after 20 seconds.

Shaken, Bognor lost the first two lineouts on their own throw while both sides struggled to get to grips with the referee’s interpretation of the new scrum engagement laws. Countless free-kicks and penalties were awarded throughout.

Lee Thompson raised spirits with a trademark hit and Jack Tompkins stole the first two of many lineouts to give Bognor a foothold. Good defensive work by Dave Sweeney and some great touchfinders by Josh Burgess steadied the ship.

However, another free-kick against the visitors’ front row for early engagement enabled the Blues to take a quick tap and score the simplest of tries under the posts.

Bognor lost skipper Lee Balchin with a neck injury and the size of their task became apparent. The home forwards were dominating the scrums and the contact area and Bognor were making no progress with the little possession they managed to gain.

Bognor’s strongest facet was the lineout, where Tompkins was starting to reign supreme, but the resulting driving mauls were unconvincing and ended in turnovers, even though the Blues suffered two yellow cards within a 15-minute period.

Dan Brock made the first of several breaks through the midfield and Rob Parry converted the penalty that followed to put his team on the scoreboard.

Unfortunately, more problems at the scrum, together with some weak tackling, enabled the home team to score their bonus point-try before the break.

Bognor began the second half in much more positive fashion and, after their best drive of the match, they earned a penalty which Parry converted.

Another defensive lapse eight minutes into the second half saw the home team score their fifth try - after which Bognor dominated the rest of the game.

Steve Worthington used all his experience to gel the front row into action while Paul Eastment and Graham Broome started to make inroads into the Blues’ defence.

The aggression and cohesion that had been missing was now there for all to see and Bognor were camped in the opposition 22 for long periods. Again, though, inexperience led to a lack of accuracy at the crucial moment and chances went begging.

Finally, pressure told and a great cross-kick by Parry enabled Matt Exall to score on the left wing. It was well-deserved and meant Bognor ended on a positive note.

This Saturday Bognor have a rest from league duty as they entertain Maidstone in the National Senior Vase competition (2.30pm).

BOGNOR: Burgess, Riggall, Brock, Sweeney, Stevens, Parry, Legge, Broome, Eastment, Ubsdell, Masters, Thompson, Balchin, Costelloe, Tompkins. Reps: Worthington, Dyer, Exall.