Bognor RFC vs Milbrook RFC (16.12.17)
Hampshire Avenue played host to arguably the biggest game of the season so far for both of the Hampshire 1 outfits.
Lee Balchin and Leighton Thomas once again named a strong Bognor side who they firmly believed would do the business on this cold winter weekend.
The contest started excitingly for both sides, clean line breaks from veterans Jonny Lang and Lee Balchin gave the hosts excellent quick ball for pass master Billy Toone to play with and the boys in Green and Purple started brightly. Defence was looking ropey though from the Bognor boys and a few gaps began to appear in between the ruck areas, a lack of communication from Tom James and two missed tackles in the midfield meant that Milbrook could break without much effort and score first. 0-7 to the reds.
Michael Calton starting at 10 used his centres well after the restart, Sam Newcombe and Josh Burgess were looking fired up in the loose and showed no signs of stepping off the gas during the Xmas period. James Barlow and Adam Knight continued to prove why they deserve to feature in this ever developing Bognor setup with some quite savage ruck play and defensive efforts.
Our very own taxi driver Paddy Burnett was next to score at the best ground on the south coast after some wicked hands from his partners in crime Pat Gains and Jack Hornibrook. The lightning winger dotted down over the white wash and sent the Bognor crowd into raptures. 5-7 conversion missed from Gains.
Unfortunately just before half-time Skipper Lee Balchin was sin binned and the Milbrook kicker slotted over to send the score to 5-10 and the whistle was then blown.
With just 14 men going into the first 5 minutes of the second half, Bognor knew they had to dig deep if they were going to beat their most fierce rivals. Discipline was beginning to let Bognor down, powerful carries from the front row trio of Chris Webb, Joe Burns and Venci Angelov meant that Bognor had excellent go forward Ball; but the Milbrook pack counter rucked immensely and caused the home side issues. Another penalty for the away side was slotted over and took the score to 5-13.
It wasn’t long before BRFC got another score, Pat Gibbs brought on late in the first half for injured Jack Hornibrook showed great pace on the outside and received a magical missed pass from replacement fly-half Joshua Riggall, the versatile bald Gibbs then fed the try hungry Gains who dazzled the luncheon crowd with some great feet and finished over the border to make it 10-13. Game on.
Hunan Trojan horse Chris Webb was next to make inroads in the Milbrook defence just as he has done to all oppositions this season. Back off the sideline Balchin was hitting his rucks with conviction and power, this impressive tight game meant that Bognor earned the right to play wide. Toone and Riggall saw the space before firing the pass out wide to Burgess who assisted the once again magical Gains. The northerner finishing over the try line and bringing Bognor back up to cloud 9. Bognor doing all of this with a man down after Tom James was shown red at the 60 minute mark. 17-13, conversion was good from PG tips.
Milbrook weren’t to lay down easily and showed great bravery in the last 10 mins getting another score of their own after a great line break out wide. Conversion was kicked wide and the score now sat at 17-18. Aaron Cook was introduced for Angelov and proved his worth with some strong carries around the fringes.
The clock was beginning to tick further towards the 80 minute mark and the home side needed a slither of hope. Man of the Match Lang linked up in the Milbrook 22 with back row partners Balchin and Knight, the trio making a combined tackle and turnover effort to grasp a late penalty opportunity for the home side. It was Gains’ chance to become a Bognor hero early into his stint at the club and oh boy did the Yorkshire lad gain his applause. Slotting over a penalty to win the game for Bognor after some patient tight phase play marshalled by scrum half Toone. 20-18 to Bognor.
Lang said after the game “The buzz coming back into this talented first team alongside a bunch of new and old heads is what keeps me going.”
0. Chris Webb
0. Joe Burns
0. Venci Angelov
0. Tom James
0. James Barlow
0. Jonny Lang
0. Adam Knight
0. Lee Balchin
0. Billy Toone
0. Mike Calton
0. Paddy Burnett
0. Sam Newcombe
0. Joshua Burgess
0. Jack Hornibrook
0. Pat Gains
0. Pat Gibbs
0. Joshua Riggall
0. Aaron Cook