Newly-promoted Bognor started the London Division Three south west campaign with morale-crushing 52-0 hammering by Eastleigh.
The home side endured a heavy seven-try defeat by the powerful Hampshire outfit at a rain-sodden Hampshire Avenue.
The visitors seemed fitter and stronger than the home side and showed their intent early on despite the wet conditions, which made handling difficult.
Bognor’s only tactic seemed to be sending single big runners around the fringe of the breakdown but it didn’t pay dividends. Eastleigh grew in confidence and showed great stamina and went in and the break leading by 17-0.
Before long it was 24-0 as the hosts huffed and puffed but had no answer to the relentless pressure applied by Eastleigh. Inevitably, Bognor tired and offered little opposition to the strong running of Eastleigh’s fitter players.
The visitors added points at will and it was 45-0 with just minutes remaining thanks to their sixth try, the best of the game, and a conversion. But Eastleigh weren’t finished and had time for one last try, and the conversion, to leave the final score at 0-52.
Bognor’s Doug Millen said: “The game started relatively evenly and the first ten minutes started with most of the play between the 22s.
“In what was a very wet and windy day it made it very hard for either team to secure good line out ball. A bognor side who had a very positive pre season beating Camberley and Haywards Heath were out of sorts and lacking the intensity they usually bring.
“But there were some good individual performances from Sam Newcombe when he switched back to 9. Dan Harding and Chris Webb did well with their fantastic work rate.
“Pat Gibbs with a couple of nice breaks, was unlucky not to score.
On a more positive note a massive congratulations to our first team captain Lee Balchin on his marriage to Lindsey and we offer them best wishes from everyone at the club.”
Next Saturday sees Bognor play US Portsmouth at home. There is a lunch on and all support would be welcomed Meanwhile, Bognor 2nd XV suffered a narrow loss when they went down 17-15 at home to Shoreham in London & SE Division – Sussex Spitfire 1. Bognor 3rd XV took a hiding when they lost 40-0 at home to their Burgess Hill counterparts in a Sussex Shepherd Neame Leagues Division 4 West encounter. Bognor Colts picked up a decent victory with a 34-12 win over Petersfield in a friendly match.