CUP SUCCESS FOR BOGNOR RFC 3's
Win 3 - 15
The Sussex Vase Final is scheduled to take place on March 30 and will be against either Crowborough 3s or Uckfield 2’s
Following what might politely be described as a chaotic build up, Bognor Thirds secured victory in the West Sussex RFU Vase Final against a very good and determined Littlehampton RFC.
The build up to the game had seen the game be on, off and then on again once a playable pitch had been found at Chichester College.
All this toing and froing resulted in a number of players having to disappoint wives and girlfriends and cancel newly made plans to visit Tesco, B&Q and mother in laws, to take up the call to arms. If anyone needs, I know lots of divorce lawyers
Following the last minute changes due to people finding something better to do on a Saturday, the squad that finally assembled for the match was an excellent combination of experience and youth.
Considering we were missing players of the calibre of Nigel, PB, Jake, Nama, Seve, Danny, Lee, Rimbo, the cup tied Mr Cox and others, the squad was still strong and more than capable of securing a win against a good team from the league above.
It was particularly useful that Mr Stubbs worked out he hadn’t played many games for the ones this year and was eligible to play. Whether Stubbsy made this complex calculation on his own or had help from a back is not clear.
Bognor kicked off against the wind but were soon on the attack, with the forwards making some fantastic carries and the backs, again marshalled fantastically by the young Frankie Jolly looking to make ground whenever possible (i.e. when Littlehampton weren’t so far offside that they were standing next to Dave at 10).
The first 15 minutes set the tone for much of the match with both sides attackers being met by equally determined defenders, with Bognor’s flankers Ben Wilkinson and Russ Wickham bringing down much larger Littlehampton players time and again. Bognor’s scrum was also performing stongly, with props TJ and George Hutchinson giving us a very stable platform. Eventually Bognor secured their first try when self-styled “best number 8 the club has ever had” Karl Flinn went over in the corner after some excellent work by the forwards. No conversion but the early lead was most welcome.
Littlehampton really came back strong, and with their excellent scrum half bringing some of their big runners in to play they spent a good amount of time in the Bognor half. Fortunately Bognor’s first up and cover tackling was spot on, with Marc Voigt making some huge hits and turning possession over on more than one occasion when we were really under the pump (Point of Note: Marc tells me that apparently South Africa DO play rugby).
Despite the pressure, Littlehampton’s only reward was a penalty, which had to be retaken after the first attempt was missed allegedly due to the fact that Lee Russell was moving when the penalty was kicked. If he was, it was about he most he moved all day – but as I always say “the referee is ALWAYS right”.
More strong attacks from both sides were snuffed out by excellent defence, but after some concerted pressure, a line out found its way into the hands of Mr Flinn, about 5m from the Littlehampton try line. Head down, Flinny charged in to the Littlehampton winger and scrum half, knocking them out he way to touch down to give us a 10 -3 lead. Again no conversion.
Half time saw the introduction of some fresh legs, with Big Tom Davis who had another barnstorming game replaced due to injury and Kai enter the battle to replace Sam who had made some lovely runs in the first half, but had picked up a knock.
The second half followed a very similar pattern to the first, with both sides attacking strongly through forwards and backs, but unable to turn that pressure into points. Gradually Bognor began to make more and more pressure through the strong running of Mike Reed and Jon Robbins in the centres and Harry Edwards at lock but still the killer try wouldn’t come.
A couple of wayward shots at goal did nothing to calm the nerves of the Bognor supporters and coaches.
More fresh legs saw the better Greenslade enter the action at prop, to pack down alongside the slightly younger Mike Teague and Stubbsy, whose combined ages fell some way short of Joe’s, but show that Bognor’s front row in the future is in good hands.
With about 15 minutes to go, Bognor introduced debutant Harry Oliver on the left wing and brought Harry Edwards back on for the tireless Russ, to give us a bit more bulk to withstand the expected final Littlehampton onslaught.
Finally with only a few minutes left on the clock some lovely handling and support lines saw Harry Oliver twist his way to the line to secure Bognor’s third try and put the score up to 15 – 3, which is how it stayed until the end, when the referee finally got a decision right and worked out that 80 minutes were up!!!! (only joking sir).
Overall a very tough game against a well drilled side who had us under pressure for long periods of the game. Much as it pains me, our Man of the Match has to go to Mr Flinn, who alongside his two tries made a huge amounts of hard yards and tackled ferociously, but to be honest everyone put in a performance to be proud of, with one or two catching the eye of watching first ream coach Mr Billy Toone.
Big shout out to Littlehampton too who certainly can be proud of their performance and who have a good crop of young players coming through their future looks bright too.
Thanks also to the large number of Bognor supporters who travelled to the game ,the noise near the end when we secured a penalty was unbelievable and gave the players a big lift.
The Sussex Vase Final is scheduled to take place on March 30 and will be against either Crowborough 3s or Uckfield 2’s, neither of whom we should fear. Our next home game is this Saturday against Brighton Sea Serpents.
With five league games left the equation appears simple – win all five games and we should secure the league.