Bognor have an off-day and are beaten at Eastleigh

Bognor in action against Eastleigh IIs earlier in the season / Picture by Tommy McMillan
Bognor in action against Eastleigh IIs earlier in the season / Picture by Tommy McMillan

Below-par Bognor were level pegging for much of their visit to face Eastleigh seconds - but they ended on the losing side.

Bognor started off slowly in the Hampshire premier clash and Eastleigh looked a well-oiled outfit compared to the home fixture at the beginning of the season. The home side made the most of an early scrum and crashed over in the midfield after a missed tackle. 7-0.

Tackles were being missed frequently in the Bognor defence but George Castleton and Dave Sweeney made amends with some crunching hits around the fringes and out wide. Unfortunately for the away side, tight-head prop Tom James was shown a yellow - a questionable decision from the referee. 10-0.

Chris Webb and Adam Groome were putting themselves about and hitting breakdowns regularly and powerfully. Frankie Jolley had a lot of work to do on his second first team start, enduring heavy pressure from the Eastleigh counter ruck.

Sweene slotted an easy penalty after some great work at the breakdown by Tom Orchard and Nathan Archer. 3-10. Sam Newcombe looked lively with ball in hand but the whole team struggled to provide any real threat all day, with the exception of Webb. However, Castleton managed to turn over a wayward Eastleigh lineout and dot down for possibly his most bizarre try ever. 10-10 after a great kick by Sweeney.

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Next came a massive blow for the men in green, captain and talisman Josh Burgess forced off with an ankle injury. He watched on nervously throughout as his team struggled to make inroads against an extremely fiery Eastleigh side. Adam Knight was introduced and made an immediate impact with three excellent chop tackles in a row, the back row really staking a claim for a starting spot in the next game.

In the second half Bognor needed a spark from somewhere to get them going. Shane Stevens and Dan Robinson both made weaving runs from deep but didn’t have great support to conjure up anything. Webb was penalised for a high tackle and the home side slotted a pen to make it 13-10.

George Hutchinson was on for Tom James and the youngster was holding his own in the scrum and was getting stuck in to the rucks. James Barlow looked fired up and made a few aggressive tackles that slowed Eastleigh down. Unfortunately for Bognor the penalty count did not stop rising and they conceded again. 16-10.

Darren Bidwell was his ever-savage self in the tackle area and breakdown. He didn’t get his carrying game flowing as usual and Bognor could have done with some of that from the young tree surgeon.

Paddy Burnett had a very rare off day, the flashy winger not getting any ball and didn’t look himself after a game without a try; but he will soon be back with a vengeance and scoring tries with ease. Chris Hay was brought on and quickly into the thick of things, catching a high ball well and carrying low and hard.

One positive for Bognor was Webb’s fight and determination to always make yards for the team, the loose head devouring his opposition and finally being brought down after heavy contact. Archer had a few strong carries at the line but couldn’t free his hands up and Eastleigh carried back after a turnover and managed to win another penalty. 19-10.

Bognor never really got going but still showed heart in what could have been a bigger scoreline for the home side, the team will learn from this and get stronger as a unit.

Bognor: Webb, Groome, James, Barlow, Orchard, Castleton, Bidwell, Burgess, Jolley, Sweeney, Stevens, Archer, Newcombe, Burnett, Robinson, Hutchinson, Knight, Hay.