Horsham advance in the cup on the road to Twickenham
Winning run extends to six
INTERMEDIATE CUP – ROUND TWO
Saturday 10th November 2018
Hammersmith & Fulham 21-53 Horsham
Report by Nathan Jervis
A lively trip down to Hammersmith and Fulham preceded what would be an afternoon of intense drama, questionable decisions, unequivocal bravery, and ultimately a New Zealand win. Before that, however, Horsham 1st XV had some business to attend to. Unsure of what to expect from the London based opposition, Horsham were nonetheless in confident spirits on the coach - minus DVD player - to Hammersmith and Fulham's ground.
What happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object would be a somewhat over-dramatic way to describe the first 5 minutes of the match. However the sentiment is true that Horsham's strong start was equally matched by Fulham's. Lackadaisical Horsham defence nearly saw Fulham capitalise early on, however their player spilled the ball to see the threat temporarily dissipate. Horsham managed to gain ground and find Fulham's 22, ultimately earning the scrum. From this the ball was spun out wide by Jake Fisher, on to Jamie Redmayne, and finally to Will Johnson who was able to put the ball down in the corner for a try. Tom Johnson started what would be a sterling performance and deftly converted to put Horsham 7-0 at the 6 minute mark. This reporter was able to take copious notes from Saturday's game, so settle in, this might get lengthy.
Sung with spunk "Anything you can do I can do better!" was the name of the game for the next few minutes after the re-set as both teams exchanged kicks deep into each others halves. Fulham were rewarded with a scrum. Horsham piled on the pressure which led to the ball going in to touch for a Fulham line out, however Horsham were able to force Fulham back and were awarded a scrum themselves. Fulham managed to turn the ball over and kick to touch. The ball was passed out to Vince Everitt who showed impressive power, beating multiple Fulham tacklers and gained considerable ground, before laying the ball off to Joe Wilde who scored convincingly. Tom Johnson again converted to put Horsham ahead 14-0 after 15 minutes. Undoubtedly then, this was turning into a game of rugby.
Fulham displayed a relentless intent throughout the game, never once letting their heads drop. Indeed, the score at this stage did not fully reflect the feel of the game. Fulham were scrummaging extremely well, as well as employing some tricks and manoeuvres that were difficult for Horsham to deal with efficiently. A good number of southern hemisphere accents detected in the Fulham team almost certainly contributed to this added flair, but ultimately did not prove consistent enough to gain a significant advantage.
This perseverance bore juicy fruit in the form of a try for Fulham 23 minutes in. Persistent attacking and multiple phases broke down Horsham's defence finally to see points on the board for the home team. The successful conversion brought the score to 14-7. A further 7 minutes of rugby happened before the next score came in the form of a penalty given Horsham's way which was comfortably kicked over the posts by Tom Johnson. Fulham bore down on Horsham from the re-set and immediately started to get comfortable in their 22. Not too comfortable however as Declan Nwachukwu, who had clearly had at least 4 Weetabix for breakfast that morning, intercepted the ball and ran from deep in Horsham's half to score. A couple of tackles were attempted, and chase was given, but a fully-fuelled Declan is, fortunately, unchaseable. Tom Johnson converted to bring the score to 24-7. 33 minutes gone.
The ref allowed 4 minutes to be played past the 40 minute-mark, to Horsham's detriment, After winning a line out Fulham were able to move the ball well and dive through Horsham's line for their second try which they also converted. 24-14 at half time. It would be no exaggeration if this reporter described the first half as thrilling, in fact he will, in fact he has. The first half was a thrilling half of rugby.
Kyle Fairs was brought off at half time to be, briefly, replaced by Dan Cass. Cass was under strict instruction to throw some large tackles around to further wear out the now struggling Fulham players. Dan Cass did this, but unfortunately was far too Cassy about the situation and was yellowed immediately for a perceived high tackle. The tackled player appeared to have slipped before contact meaning Cass was unable to adjust last minute, either way the end result was that he was Tackled, with a capital T.
With Dan Cass running self-imposed laps around the field in some kind of display of self-flagellation, Fulham came back at Horsham hard and finally found a gap in the defence to put another score on the board. 24-21, 48 minutes gone on the clock. Some nervous looks were now being exchanged among the Horsham supporters. Tim Smith, notably, looked to this reporter for consolation through teary, wrinkly eyes, but before this reporter could speak Jordan Bell would provide all the consolation a whimpering Tim Smith would need in the form of a snapped up interception to dart through Fulham's line and put Horsham, after Tom Johnson's conversion, 31-21 ahead. Nick Bell was also playing well and making some strong tackles. Thought I'd mention that.
53 minutes had passed, plus the extra 4 minutes of the first half, before Joe Wilde made a trademark interception and ran the ball home for another try. Some real breathing space was now being gained by solid Horsham play and consistent pressure. Tom Johnson again converted, sterling performance you see, to put Horsham a comfortable 38-21 ahead. Fulham reset and kicked the ball deep into Horsham's half, Adam Clarkson gathered to pass out to Declan. Either somebody had been sneaking Declan some more Weetabix at half time, or he fibbed about only having 4 for breakfast. The net result was that he beat at least 4 tacklers and ran half of the pitch to put the ball down for his second try of the game. The conversion brought Horsham to 45-21 with 57 minutes gone.
Dan Cass was uncaged and allowed back on the field, much to the detriment of many a Fulham rib, and was contributing effectively to Horsham's game line. Emmet O'Rahilly and Marcus Condon were brought on in place of Will Johnson and Chris Double at the stroke of 66 minutes. Emmet made an immediate impact, after being set up by Joe Wilde, and was able to put points on the board straight away with a well-executed try. Tom Johnson shockingly did not convert, but Horsham were now well in the clear at 50-21, 70 minutes gone.
Jordan Smith was next to make an impact, not with a try - that's not his style - but with a devastating and, to be quite honest, moving run out on the wing. One of Fulham's players who was, and this is no exaggeration whatsoever, 6 feet 10 inches and around 31 stone tried to make a tackle. In the words of Julia Roberts, big mistake, HUGE. That player ended up on his back as Jordan Smith pushed on and over him with barely a "how do you do". Unbelievable stuff, and this reporter's play of the game.
The final 10 minutes was seen comfortably out by Horsham, culminating in a Horsham penalty being given, which Tom Johnson comfortably kicked, to bring the final score to 53-21.
Head coach Nick Stocker split the man of the match between Tom Johnson and Jordan Bell. This reporter would add there a few shining performances alongside these two, most notably Jake Fisher and Declan Nwachukwu. Overall though it was very strong team effort, against an unpredictable and talented Hammersmith and Fulham.
This reporter was able to catch up with Nick Stocker on the coach back. In a bizarre turn of events it was decided to record his thoughts as if this was a hot scoop from the 1960's, this is therefore the transcript of the recording:
Reporter: "Some thoughts on the game head coach Nick Stocker?"
Head coach Nick Stocker: *Over loud cheering* "Well in control for a long time, a long time, however that little bit of arrogance got to us and let Hammersmith back into the game. We decided to start playing a bit later, throw up our hands a bit more and score lots of tries."
Reporter: "Perfect, so, would you agree that we, erm, that we played rugby today?"
Head coach Nick Stocker: *Slurring slightly* "I agree that we played a little bit of rugby today. Not as much rugby as I'd like...but we definitely played rugby"
Reporter: "Would you agree that some people tackled, and some people ran with the ball today? Would you agree with that?"
Head coach Nick Stocker: *Erratic screaming in background* "I agree that some people tackled, some people ran with the ball today, and some people threw the ball backwards."
Hard hitting stuff, I am sure this readership will agree, and a fine conclusion to the day’s events.
Lest we forget.