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Bognor Vets v Littlhampton

By Paul Brown

Too little, too late.

Saturday afternoon saw Bognor Vets hosting Littlehampton in an end of season friendly fixture.
The weather was set fair, so Bognor were able to assemble a huge squad, with many donning their boots for their once-a-year runout.
Littlehampton arrived at Bognor before the gates were open, looking fresh faced and fit, obviously keen to get going. This can be a cause for concern for an aging Vets side, so the usual plan was formulated when faced with a team of whippets, stuff it up your jumper, don’t let them have the ball.
Once the game began, this proved to be easier said than done, as a mistake in the midfield led to Littlehampton scooping up the ball, spinning it wide and easily running around Bognor’s flagging defence to score in the first two minutes.
With the fear of this becoming a rout, Bognor were then shocked into action. They began to play to their plan, recycling the ball efficiently and using their power to force R. Ocky over the line. However, as Bognor returned to their half for the kick off, they realised the score had been wiped off for an infringement and it was penalty to Littlehampton.
Nevertheless, Bognor had shown what they were capable of and once again went on the attack with their simple but effective strategy, to eventually allow M. Page to score in the corner.
This time it was Littlehampton’s turn to come out fighting. They knew they could not match Bognor’s strength in the front five, despite the belligerent efforts of their massive prop R. Sargeant. With the mobility of a rolled-up carpet, he had no answer to the raw aggression of his Bognor opposite number, so, after another Bognor error, Littlehampton had to use the pace of A. Trent and G. Rowler out wide to, once again, breach the Bognor try line.
The tit-for-tat try scoring continued throughout the rest of the half. Time after time, Littlehampton edged ahead, only to be pegged back by another Bognor try. With the ever-youthful R. Hay at 9 and N. Baker orchestrating at 10, Bognor started to get it together in the backs and were able to utilise what little pace they still possessed for M. (Amarillo) Reed to score. Half-time 19-24.
The half-time team talk was a sombre affair. Bognor knew that their mistakes had cost them in the first-half but this knowledge gave them a focus. Do the basics right and they should come through victorious.
Once again, the best laid plans don’t always come to fruition, as the second half saw history repeating itself. Bognor had rung the changes to bring on their finishing squad, but Littlehampton’s front three, bolstered by the addition of M.P. Stock to aid the floundering Sargeant, began to exert more pressure on Bognor, and the second half started with another Littlehampton try.
But Bognor weren’t finished yet. They came back stronger and managed to eat into the deficit with further scores from Reed, Page and Ocky. Furthermore, with the reintroduction of specialist hooker P. Brown, the Bognor scrum stabilised, and the forwards scored a rumbling try in the far corner. The conversion was missed, which left Bognor leading by one point with five minutes left.
At this point, Bognor initiated their close out strategy. Catch from the kick off, keep the ball in the forwards and run down the clock. Unfortunately, they were not able to stick to this age-old plan and tried to spin the ball wide. At this late stage in the game, the tired legs and thought processes cost them, as their sprightly Littlehampton opponents intercepted and sprinted from their own half to score. The successful conversion left Littlehampton leading by six.
However, there was still time. Rampaging runs and deft handling from Bognor saw them quickly back into Littlehampton’s half, looking for another try to win the game. But it was not to be. The smell of the meat sizzling on the BBQ must have got to the Bognor team. Final passes were dropped, scrums were lost and the final whistle was blown with a heap of bodies just short of Littlehampton’s try line.
On a day when Bognor made too many errors, Littlehampton came out on top. Final score 36-42.

Updated 19:18 - 18 Apr 2019 by Paul Brown

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