The Bognor boys Dun good in the cup
Bognor enjoyed a pleasant break from league action with a comprehensive 43-18 defeat of London south east two side Old Dunstonians in the Intermediate Cup.
The Kent side went into the match full of confidence having beaten Brighton a week earlier and thrashed KCS in the first round, a side Bognor had lost to in the league by more than 50 points.
With both regular scrum-halves unavailable coach Karl Flinn decided to gamble by handing the No9 shirt to veteran fly-half Rob Parry and the decision was a master-stroke, the Welshman scoring three tries and collecting the man-of-the-match trophy.
The home side’s confidence did not last long as they dropped the kick-off and were immediately put under pressure by Paul Mitchell and Luke Rokotakala.
Bognor won the resulting five-metre scrum against the head and youngster Lee Shergold, making his first-team debut at fly-half, executed a fine switch with George Castleton. The Dunstonians defence parted and Castleton crossed unopposed for the first try.
Five minutes later Bognor’s forwards again had their opposite numbers in trouble as they drove them back towards their own line. One driving maul was deliberately collapsed by the Dunstonians loose-head prop and he was yellow-carded.
Lee Thompson was about to touch down after another fine forward effort when Parry cheekily decided to take the ball from his own player’s arms and score himself – an unorthodox tactic at any level.
At 14-0 up after five minutes Bognor began to force the pace too much and were attempting to score from every first-phase instead of steadily building the pressure.
The home front row was being given a lesson in scrummaging by Joe Greenslade, Paul Mitchell and Armandus Morgan and the frustration showed when the Dunstonians tight-head butted Greenslade and was red-carded.
Shergold started to enjoy the immaculate service from Parry and began to call the shots. Lee Balchin made 30 metres in one of his trademark tackle-busting runs but the promising move ended when the ball went to ground.
Nathan Archer almost got over but, after three close-range scrums, a third try was inevitable and it came when Parry dummied his way through. Dave Sweeney continued his impressive kicking form by converting all three tries.
Dunstonians suffered another two front-row injuries and the referee mistakenly allowed them to bring on two more replacements while reverting to uncontested scrums for the rest of the match.
Dunstonians, back up to 14 men, raised their game but lacked penetration and were punished further by Steve Dove, who galloped 20 metres through the middle of the home defence.
Just before half-time Balchin again did the early damage before off-loading to Castleton, allowing the father-to-be to cruise over for his second try and give Bognor a seemingly unassailable 28-point lead.
The second half degenerated into farce as Bognor’s one-man advantage was nullified by the uncontested scrums and by the referee’s generosity in not insisting the home side remove a further player.
Dunstonians thrived in the ensuing ‘seven-a-side’ atmosphere and scored three tries and a penalty to narrow the gap to just two scores.
Bognor’s discipline was poor and far too many penalties were conceded. Instead of maintaining their shape they indulged in the free-for-all, structure-less game and played into Dustonians’ hands. Fortunately, when it seemed that the unthinkable might happen, they pulled themselves together and once again played controlled rugby.
First Parry took a quick tap-penalty to scamper over from 20 metres and then sanity was restored when quick hands allowed Josh Burgess to score a try.
The best, however, was saved till last as inspirational skipper Balchin set off on a powerful run from his own ten-metre line. Five would-be tacklers were scattered as the No8 fought his way to the line.
This Saturday Bognor resume their league programme when they entertain Weybridge Vandals at Hampshire Avenue (2.30pm kick-off).
BOGNOR: Sweeney, Archer, Pearce, Castleton, Rokotakala, Shergold, Parry, Greenslade, P Mitchell, Morgan, T Stickland, Dove, Thompson, N Mitchell, Balchin. Reps: Heydon, Robinson, Flinn, Burgess.