Counties Two Hampshire rugby: New Milton clinch narrow top-of-the-table win against Bognor
Counties Two Hampshire
New Milton RFC 15
Bognor RFC 12
NEW Milton returned to winning ways at the perfect time, sealing a narrow victory over second-placed Bognor to go six points clear at the top.
Milton had suffered back-to-back losses for the first time this season, but they battled back from conceding two early tries to win 15-12.
The visitors started the game superbly, creating sustained pressure in the New Milton 22-metre area before last-ditch defence resulted in the ball being held up behind the line. However, Bognor were quickly back in the hosts' faces, going over for the game's first try.
Bognor showed no signs of letting up, and after a scrum on the halfway line, they put together a good attack before touching down for a converted try.
The hosts refused to let their heads drop, and they hit back with a try of their own to narrow the half-time scores to 12-5. Milton made an excellent attack move, shifting the ball out of each tackle as they progressed towards the try-line, with Jude Payne taking the final pass and breaking through to touch down in the corner.
After the restart, New Milton were quickly into action, but a poor kick for touch fell short, allowing Bognor to clear their lines. However, the ball was caught and promptly given to the backs, who fed Charlie Jewiss. The centre used his pace to evade tackle attempts and get his side's second try.
New Milton had the wind in their sails, and they put together decent attacks before the ball was spun out to Alex Everett-Jackson. The back released Chris Conacher with a delicate kick ahead which was collected and touched down, giving the hosts the lead for the first time.
The remaining 12 minutes of action took place inside the Milton 22 as the determined Bognor worked hard for a try while the hosts worked held firm.
Both sets of players showed tremendous commitment, with the onlooking supporters held in suspense.
The referee raised his arm, sending the Bognor backers wild until they realised it wasn't for a try to their side, but a penalty for Milton, sparking a roar from the home support.
New Milton's player-of-the-match award went to Dan Mallard.
Milton will look to maintain their grip on the top spot when they face second-bottom Alresford away on Saturday.
New Milton: E. Hynd, J. Lines, H. Chung, B. Steers, J. Corbett, L. Thomas, J. Payne, S. Bew, A. Lavis, C. Brown, A. Everett-Jackson, C. Conacher, C. Jewiss, J. Eldridge, D.Thomas. Subs: L. Waugh, C. Wood, D. Mallard.