Bognor not at best - but are united in effort to beat Services

BOGNOR edged a 14-13 Hampshire League division-one victory against US Portsmouth on a bright afternoon as two enthusiastic sides entertained a good gathering of junior and senior supporters at Hawthorn Road.

Many feel there is a great deal more to come from the home side, who will almost certainly give better performances in future games.

After an indifferent start the previous week, the overall performance was creditable and based on excellent commitment and enthusiasm.

The home side can be pleased with both scrum and lineout, even without absent captain Tompkins. Captain for the day Nigel Mitchell’s trademark leadership in these departments deserved better decision-making by others in later stages of the game, when opportunities were missed in broken play.

Bognor started well territorially, visiting the US 22 several times but failing to come away with any reward.

After some failures to directly catch the kick-aheads by US or gather dropouts, a strong break by powerful centre Dan Brock gave Lee Shergold the chance to put Bognor in a commanding position in the corner for a catch and drive lineout. Sadly the finish was flawed, and the game restarted at a halfway lineout.

Shortly afterwards, a penalty opportunity by Shergold was wide of its target, hinting of a frustrating time ahead.

It was 27 minutes before pressure from the home side finally produced the reward. Bognor were awarded a scrum midfield on the US 22 line. The power came through, Lee Balchin picked up at No8, carried well blindside and delivered to Legge, the bludgeoning Burgess and finally to the pacy Satturley, who dotted the ball down in the corner. A splendid conversion followed from Shergold.

Bognor had started the scoring but recognised that Portsmouth were a very decent well-drilled outfit and much much more was needed to secure victory. Defensive efficiency was required and generally, good cover nullified the opposition breakthroughs as US produced extended attacks. One such touchline attack resulted in a successful penalty to Portsmouth, warning the home side to up their game at 7-3 up.

Harry Dyer’s workrate was exemplary until he was forced to leave through injury, as was that of Balchin, whose ball-carrying provided much gainline advantage. Balchin looked to be finished, but later returned and contributed strongly in a poorer second half by the home side.

However, a fine patch just before half-time allowed Shergold to cut his way through the US defence to score tidily under the posts, adding the extras to make it 14-3 at the break.

The second half was an intermittent affair, with injury time, reset scrummages - partially caused by refereeing interpretation - and errors from both sides.

The powerful Morgan had a splendid game as did club-mate Angelou until injury forced him off.

Steve Worthington ably covered, but too often the ball which was driven through midfield by powerful centres Brock and Burgess was unsupported at breakdown and came to little.

US managed a fine try midway through the second half, engineered by fly-half Ieuan Clements, which he duly converted.

At 14-10, victory was possible for either team and Bognor players and supporters were kept very focused when a further penalty to US brought it to 14-13.

But credit goes to the excellent spirit of the home team for holding their lines for the final ten minutes, giving a confidence-boosting victory.

BOGNOR: Morgan, Robinson, Angelou, Harding, Barlow, Balchin, Dyer, Mitchell, Worthington, Legge, Shergold, Riggall, Burgess, Brock, Satturley, Reed.