BOGNOR 53pts GOSPORT & FAREHAM II 3pts
Bognor’s eight-try romp in the Hampshire Avenue sunshine moved them up to joint second in the table, alongside Sandown & Shanklin who had an off-day against pace-setters Basingstoke. Head Coach Billy Toone knows that next week’s game at Sandown will be a much tougher test but he was delighted with the overall performance of his young side.
In front of a large crowd, many of whom had enjoyed another successful luncheon, Bognor’s forwards began strongly, winning a penalty at the first scrum. The dominance of the front row of Chris Webb, Harry Stubbs and Matt Cox was the start of a pattern that was to continue for the rest of the match, the referee rewarding their superiority with several more penalties for deliberate collapsing of the scrum.
Fly-half David Sweeney enjoyed the front-foot ball and used all his experience to create time for his outside backs. The veteran playmaker was held up over the line but, after observing his team-mates squander some early opportunities, he decided to accept an easy penalty in front of the posts.
Gosport were defending well but, midway through the half, the pressure told when Paddy Burnett made the first of many powerful runs and handed on to Webb. There was no stopping the in-form loose-head as he crashed over near the posts for Bognor’s first try. Sweeney added the conversion points and went on to amass 13 points in a faultless display of place-kicking, before stepping aside for Jeremy Newton-Young late in the second half.
Ten minutes later Sweeney chased his own chip and tackled the full-back in possession before the ball was moved to the supporting Webb who touched down for an easy second try.
On the stroke of half-time scrum-half Jack Hornibrook made up for a couple of wayward passes by dummying to kick and then sprinting through the gap to score a cheeky individual try.
With the score at 24-0 Bognor were determined to increase the pressure on the tiring Hampshire side by moving the ball at every opportunity. In fact, though, it was Gosport who started the second half more strongly and their determination brought them the reward of a penalty to put their first points on the board.
Bognor hit back immediately through some elusive running from Shane Stevens and Dan Robinson. After messing up an overlap on the left, they quickly made amends when skipper Josh Burgess put Webb through for his hat-trick with a sublime pass. Man-of-the-match Burgess grew stronger as the game went on and the big No.8 created havoc with his immense ball-carrying.
Centre Will Cullen was next on the scoresheet as he finished off sustained home pressure with some copybook straight running. Copybook passing along the line then saw Burnett get his just reward by scoring Bognor’s sixth try in the corner, before the promising Harry Stubbs and the all-action Paul Briant completed an entertaining afternoon with well-taken tries.
Bognor return to Hampshire Avenue on Saturday, 3rd November when they play Portsmouth, but before then they have to make the long trek to the Isle of Wight in order to tackle high-flying Sandown & Shanklin.
Team: Robinson, Stevens, Cullen, Riggall, Burnett, Sweeney, Hornibrook, Webb, Stubbs, Cox, Orchard, Smith, Castleton, Briant, Burge (Capt).
Replacements: Voigt, Bidwell, Newton-Young