Fareham Heathens send Bognor crashing to first defeat

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Fareham Heathens produced a strong display to win 20-15 at Hampshire one league-leaders Bognor.

It was a first league defeat of the season for the hosts.

Heathens coach Bernie Rhodes was delighted with the battling qualities displayed by his players.

‘I am over the moon with this result and performance,’ said Rhodes.

‘It was honestly the best rugby I have been involved with since being with Heathens.

‘The lads knew it was a one 100-per-cent game and they gave everything they had from start to finish.

‘They knew they couldn’t afford to back off anything and they didn’t.’

‘If we had lost that would have put us out of contention for the title but now we are still in with a chance.’

Heathens opened the scoring after 11 minutes with a try from Jonny Stoppard which was converted by Cam Guthrie.

Bognor hit back to level just before half-time, though Guthrie knocked over a penalty to put Heathens ahead at the break.

‘We had played against the elements in the first half so I was happy,’ said Rhodes.

‘Bognor were flustered and we put them under a lot of pressure both offensively and defensively.’

Heathens stretched their lead to 15-7 early in the second half with Ryan Keary putting Jashan Solanki over in the corner for a try.

It was a physical encounter and Bognor had a player sent off for foul play.

Despite this the Sussex team fought back to level the scores with a try and a penalty.

Heathens kept their nerve and with 10 minutes to play, Matt Smith rounded off a smart move to grab what proved to be the winner.

‘Our defence was unbelievable at the end though all our players were dead on their feet,’ said Rhodes.

‘It was a real gutsy performance.’

Locks Heath Pumas slipped to a 35-18 defeat at Farnborough.

Gosport & Fareham lost 31-7 at London one south high-flyers Guildford which leaves them five points ahead of the relegation zone going into the Christmas break.

The visitors trailed 19-0 at half-time.

In the second half, Gosport’s Wayne Dugan converted his own try.