Bognor snatch dramatic victory at Gosport

Bognor snatched a dramatic late Hampshire premier division victory - 19-17 - at the home of  second-placed Gosport & Fareham to put behind them a narrow defeat to Havant the week previous and right the wrongs of the first game against this opposition.
Bognor in possession at Gosport / Picture: Jo FooteBognor in possession at Gosport / Picture: Jo Foote
Bognor in possession at Gosport / Picture: Jo Foote

Bognor applied pressure immediately on the opposition. From the kick off, returning Darren Bidwell dominated the aerial contest and regathered possession, his assertiveness in the air a running theme.

Trademark carries from Chris Webb and Jamie Foote created momentum, providing half back partners Jack Hornibrook and Jack Lysaght the platform to spread the ball to the wide channels.

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Met with a resilient defence for much of the first half, Bognor’s attacking efforts were unable to result in points on the score board.

Kicking for glory...  / Picture: Jo FooteKicking for glory...  / Picture: Jo Foote
Kicking for glory... / Picture: Jo Foote

At the breakdown, the over-excited hosts instigated a scuffle resulting in a yellow card for each side. Both down to 14 men, spaces opened up within defences and it was the visitors who capitalised first- Connor Herrington outpacing all Gosport defenders to regather a kick ahead and dot down in the corner. Lysaght missing the extras, 0-5.

Gosport responded with determination and gradually broke down the Bognor defence, a dominant drive from a 5m lineout saw them cross the white wash for the first time. Conversion missed, 5-5.

On the stroke of half-time came a moment of brilliance from the Bognor wide-men, Paddy Burnett bursting through the contact before offloading to Herrington, the speedster dragging would-be tacklers over the line with him as he crossed for his second try of the day. Lysaght, this time, providing the extras, and it was 12-5 at he interval.

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Not wanting to disappoint their supporters, the hosts began the second half with a new lease of life, using a combination of strong ball carries and nippy backs they punished the visitors who seemed to lose focus and, by the 50th minute, they found themselves in the lead at 17-12.

Bognor grab the winner at Gosport / Picture: Jo FooteBognor grab the winner at Gosport / Picture: Jo Foote
Bognor grab the winner at Gosport / Picture: Jo Foote

Concerned this may be a repeat of the first leg, Bognor’s captain Shane Stevens rallied his troops and initiated a gritty response.

Persistence in the battle up front, eagerness to react to the loose ball (particularly from Tom Orchard) and the use of the backs to exploit the wide channels began to frustrate Gosport and again, poor discipline was met with the referees sanctions, the hosts receiving another yellow card.

Gosport became disjointed and Bognor continued to build momentum and apply pressure. A further yellow was given to each team as frustrations mounted.

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Brilliant leadership from Mark Ubsdell and youngster Charlie Jays helped Bognor to maintain composure. They played with confidence and a sense of inevitability that their opportunity would come and with good reason.

Camped deep in the opposition 22, they strung countless phases together, the forward pack put their bodies on the line with barn storming carries and tireless work at the break down, gradually exhausting the admirable defensive efforts of the hosts.

The communication came from wide that an opportunity was apparent and the Bognor back line needed no second invitation, swift hands from Lysaght, Nathan Archer and Herrington unleashed Bognor’s lethal finisher Tyrone Makasi who bundled himself and the opposition into the corner as he placed the ball down for the try.

The conversion would be the final play and flyhalf Lysaght- with ice in the veins, he cooly slotted the ball through the uprights, sealing a brilliant victory on the road.

Bognor and their travelling supporters erupted as the full-time whistle was blown.

Report by Scott Chegg