Saxons undone by Battle Hardened Bognor
By Nick Funnell
Saxons Vs Bognor 2's
A trip to Bognor awaited Saxons on Saturday.
Everyone knew that this was the first real test of the season against an unbeaten team, which last season was playing 3 leagues against a developing Saxons team.
Led by Capt Funnel, the Saxons arrived with 20 players, which proves the Hellingly Rugby Club is growing stronger in numbers. However, this was a much changed team from the previous week.
Due to various other commitments, the Saxons had to make a multitude of changes starting in the front row, with full credit going to Mark Nicoll stepping in as a makeshift prop, Tomo Graham moving to prop and Nick Funnell
moving from scrum half to hooker.
This was the determination of a rugby team to play rugby by contesting the scrum, where we could have easily decided to take the penalty point and have gone uncontested.
This meant changes all over the park, with Steve Gower coming in a scrum half, for his first game of the season, Chris Wood, Zac Sutherland Chris Alexander, Mike Searle
, Todd Rainsley all coming in for their first game of the season and for 3 of these their first ever game in a Hellingly Shirt and welcome to Adam Betteley making his first start of the season for the Saxons coming in from playing with the 1sts the previous week.
Bognor we knew were going to be organised, with some of their players still representing their 1sts, and the majority of their pack ex-1st team player with the rest made up from a youthful and skilful crop of youngsters.
From the kick off the Bognor pack put immediate pressure on the Saxon defence, from both the forwards and the backs, as you would expect from a team playing their first home game, in front of a large crowd.
The pressure continued until the 5th min when a good passage of phase ball released the backs and Bognor went over for the first try. Not converted 5 – 0 Bognor.
Saxons hit back straight from the kick off, with pressure coming from the forwards who tried to release the backs, however a slight knock curtailed the attack.
What followed was nothing but bruising for both teams. However, Bognor utilised their vast experience in the scrum to make the Saxons pay, but with full back Tom Manketlow covering he was able to touch down for a 22 drop out.
The First major change, in the Saxon already much changed pack then occurred, with Adam Betteley making a huge hit, however this resulting in him injuring his hamstring and being replaced by Dan Puttick for his 2nd ever run out, not that anyone would have noticed.
With the Saxons trying to re-organised Bognor took advantage and went over for the second try of the day which was converted. 12-0 Bognor.
The next change occurred shortly after resulting in another reorg of the pack with Nathan Rainsley
taking a knock to the head and being replaced with Mike Searle
The bruising encounter continued with Bognor taking advantage of the numerous changes in the pack, however every man in the Hellingly shirt defended with heart and blood. This was proven when Chris Sands
was able to get his hand on the ball a touch down for a 22 drop out, truly a try saving moment.
From the resultant drop out the impressive Zan Sutherland regained possession from the kick and Saxon put together a great bit of attack play, only for Bognor to get back in the 22 and clear it up field through a nice run and kick, resulting in a line out in the Saxons 22.
Unfortunately, the throw was stolen and Bognor formed the maul and went over for the try. 17-0 Bognor.
Just before half time a quick break lead to another Bognor try. 22-0 Bognor.
Half time then came.
The second half started with Saxons hitting some good lines and making inroads into the Bognor defence, however, Bognor turned the ball over and quickly worked the ball back down the field and eventually going over for the Try. Converted 29-0 Bognor.
50 min Sub Todd Rainsley on and Chris Woos off.
The pressure continued but the Saxons fought valiantly, which then came at a cost with on 55 min, with Chris Wood going down after hitting the line at pace and injuring himself in the process. Wood off and Chris Alexander on.
58 mins Alexander off, head injury and replaced by Alastair Mann.
Then on 70 mins Funnel had to come off with a rib injury with Steven Piper coming on. This meant uncontested scrum.
Shortly after Chris Sands
had to come off with Nathan Rainsley
coming back on.
All of these changes did not deter the Saxons from getting something from the game and then on 74 mins, suddenly in their own half quick ball out to the backs, the impressive Hum Jones broke the 1st tack then got the ball out wide and Zac Sutherland put the burners on breaking 2 tackles and speeding his way to score for Saxons. This was a try deserved to the Saxon just for the sheer determination and graft they had shown throughout the game. Huw Jones
converted 29-7 Bognor.
Bognor came back strongly and in the final mins they crossed the line twice and converted once resulting in Saxons first defeat of the season 39-7.
Although a defeat, which clearly disappointed all the players, there were positives from the game, first starts for some players and new players gaining valuable experience.
A special mention must again be said of Mark Niccol and Tomo Graham for stepping as props for the day, they played with their heart on their sleeves and did themselves proud.
Saxons Man of the Match went to Huw Jones
The Saxons move on and travel to Burgess Hill on Saturday.