Bognor defeat sees GFRFC lose title ground

By Connor Steel

GOSPORT AND FAREHAM RUGBY FOOTBALL CLUB (GFRFC) lost fresh ground on the Hampshire Premier League title race on Saturday afternoon, suffering a late defeat versus third placed Bognor at Dolphin Crescent as they lost 17-19 in a feisty encounter that saw five yellow cards across both sides.

Bognor started the better in terms of territory and control of the aerial play, taking the lead after 15 minutes as Connor Herrington outpaced the defence to a loose ball and he dotted in the corner. However Jack Lysaght missed the conversion as Alex Duncombe saw yellow alongside a Bognor player following a scuffle.

The hosts responded with determination and gained their rewards as Jimmy Wallis ran over the line for five points on 27 minutes, beating the away defence with a dominant drive. Again the conversion was missed by the hooker, his long kick from an angle missing the posts by inches as the scores were level at 5-5 apiece.

But in the final action before the break Bognor took an advantage with another try as away wide-men had a moment of brilliance; Paddy Burnett bursting through the middle and offloading to Herrington who showed fancy footwork to touch down. Lysaght then adding the extras with the boot to give the visitors a 12-5 lead.

GFRFC came out firing after the interval and levelled the scores on 42 minutes as Calum Allardice ran through to dive over the try-line,  Duncombe adding the two points conversion to equalise the score. Another try five minutes later gave the hosts the lead through Robert Mackinnon, but there was no added points from the boot as the kicker missed the conversion.

Bognor quickly responded by making tactical changes and this prevented any space for the home attackers in a very quiet period including substitutions. This led to much frustration which boiled over in the last five minutes, both GFRFC’s Daniel Gamblin and Tim Snowden joining an away player on the sinbin bench after yellow cards for an early shower with seconds left to play.

Faced with a numerical advantage and camped deep in the opposition twenty-two, Bognor played a countless phase of possession that left space behind. And in the 81st minute this was punished as Nathan Archer linked up with Herrington, whose offload found Tyrone Makasi who bundled over; Lysaght adding the match winning conversion to seal a fantastic win on the road for the visitors.

Defeat combined with another Havant IIs victory mean GFRFC remain second in the league after fifteen games played, having received a walkover win after the Alresford postponement and a losing bonus point from their latest game. GFRFC will now have two weeks off before facing the table toppers on February 12, who could be nine points ahead with a win over Alresford this weekend.

PICTURED BY MARTIN BURNETT: GFRFC attacker tries to outpace the Bognor defence in a tight and feisty league encounter at Dolphin Crescent on Saturday afternoon (January 29)