Rugby: True grit sees Bognor through at Alton

Luke Calleja on the charge for Bognor at Alton   Picture by Tommy McMillan
Luke Calleja on the charge for Bognor at Alton Picture by Tommy McMillan

Bognor came away from Alton with a bonus-point 34-16 win in division one of the Hampshire League after a performance filled with grit and determination.

They started the slower of the two sides with Alton clearing from kick-off to put the visitors under pressure. Bognordefended well, repelling ten minutes of sustained pressure and earning a penalty when Alton were found to be holding on at the ruck.

Burgess made good distance from the penalty and Jacob Masters created clean ball at the ensuing lineout. The Bognor pack worked hard to create space for the backs, allowing Nathan Archer to surge into space only to be brought five metres from the Alton line. Some clever dummy lines allowed Tompkins to sneak over for their first score. Clare converted.

Bognor continued their resilient defensive effort – Mitch Brock rocked his opposite number with a remarkable one-on-one tackle and a penalty was earned. Bognor established themselves in Alton’s territory and, after a period of pressure, Luke Calleja took the initiative with a quick tap penalty to scoring his first senior try for the club.

From the kick-off Bognor revisited the opponents’ 22, former Bulgarian weightlifter Venci Angelou smashed a hole in the Alton defence allowing rookie scrum-half Sam Newcombe to nudge a delightful kick into the hands of veteran Tom Watson, who scampered under the posts for his first try of the season.

Just before half time, Calleja was sin-binned for a blatant infringement at the ruck. Bognor held their lines with some superb defence only for a missed tackle to allow Alton to score with the last play of the half.

Alton began the second half with vigour and impetous, slotting an easy penalty and scoring a well-worked try to put themselves within striking distance.

Strong words from flanker Dan Harding fired up Bognor and, after good work at the scrum from Ryan Langridge, Burgess found space with a left-footed kick to the Alton 22.

The opposing winger made a hash of the clearance kick and a lovely offload from Nathan Archer, reminiscent of his father, allowed Chris Clare, in his first appearance at fly-half, to tumble over for five points.

The pace in the game began to falter with injuries on both sides affecting play, replacements Reece Goddard and Sean Bailey were introduced. The inspirational Harry Dyer made finished a textbook break in style to score his fourth try of the season.

Bognor continued to dominate in defence with pressure from Barlow and Masters at the lineout forcing a silly mistake from Alton. Bognor sealed the victory with a move straight from the training ground; some slick hands down the blind-side allowing Bailey to put former-sprinter Shane Stevens in the corner.

On Saturday, Bognor entertain Solent University at Hampshire Avenue – with the freshers now settled in and a President’s luncheon, a good crowd is expected and all support is fully welcomed.