Bognor struggle early - but come on strong to beat Purley

Rob Parry in possession during the win over Purley John Fisher  Picture by Louise Adams
Rob Parry in possession during the win over Purley John Fisher Picture by Louise Adams

Bognor put on a stirring display when they fought back after trailing 17-3 to win 28-20 against Purley John Fisher - who had lost just once in the league this season.

The performance was the most encouraging to date and the four points gained in this, their second win, moved them further away from the bottom of London three south west.

Still stricken by injuries, Bognor were forced to recall veterans Paul Mitchell, Steve Dove and Karl Flinn to the starting line-up, the latter two putting aside coaching duties to step out of retirement.

All three had storming games, Mitchell throwing in with his usual unerring accuracy, Dove bringing his immense bulk and experience to the front five and Flinn capping a controlled performance with a crucial try.

The match began with a minute’s silence for Dave Maconachie, a life member of the club and stalwart of the Sussex Referees’ Society. Dave refereed thousands of matches all over the world and did much to promote the development of the game in Sussex. He will be sorely missed.

Purley kicked off and Bognor conceded a try within seconds in identical circumstances to the previous league match against Old Blues. The opposition were allowed to claim the kick for themselves and they waltzed through a dozing midfield defence, albeit after a knock-on which the referee failed to spot.

Bognor were starting to win some set-piece ball when an offside in midfield allowed Purley to stretch their lead to ten points, courtesy of a penalty from 35 metres.

Rob Parry replied with a penalty of his own but after 20 minutes, Purley scored a great try from deep inside their own 22. Bognor were pressing hard only to concede a turnover and, in the blink of an eye, the ball was transferred through several pairs of hands and touched down 80 metres later under the home posts.

A heavy defeat looked a realistic possibility unless Bognor could score next. Parry decided the situation demanded an unorthodox solution and found winger Shane Stevens with a deft overhead chip. Stevens looked a yard or two offside but the try was awarded, which balanced out the earlier refereeing error.

Bognor took heart from the score and a late tackle on full-back Josh Burgess allowed them to set up an attacking lineout ten metres out. Basic accuracy again let them down and the visitors cleared their line.

Jack Tompkins kept the pressure on by taking a great catch against the throw and a grubber kick by Parry was carried over. The visitors conceded another penalty which Parry converted from 35m to narrow the gap to six points.

Bognor kicked off for the second half in confident mood.

Parry’s long drop-out provided Bognor with a strong attacking position and they didn’t waste it. Following a good interchange of passes Flinn crashed over near the posts and Parry’s conversion edged the home side into a narrow lead.

A chance for a third try was squandered and Bognor were lucky to escape when the referee awarded a forward pass against Purley when a try seemed certain.

Parry nudged Bognor further ahead with his third penalty and, when a Purley player was sin-binned for a trip, Bognor sensed this was their chance to put the result beyond doubt.

The final try went to man-of-the-match Parry, who had been instrumental in just about every positive piece of play.

The veteran fly-half, unable to train all week because of business commitments, intercepted a pass deep inside his half and set off on a long run for the opposition line. After covering 70 metres and with the cover defence closing in on him he dived the last five metres to touch down just inside the corner flag.

He proceeded to kick his own conversion.

There were to be no further lapses in defence and Bognor comfortably saw the game.

The challenge is to build on this performance when they travel to Old Mid-Whitgiftians on Saturday.

BOGNOR: Burgess, Stevens, Brock, Goddard, Riggall, Parry, Legge, Morgan, Mitchell, Ubsdell, Tompkins(C), Dove, , Costelloe, Dyer, Flinn. Reps: Eastment, Balchin.