Horsham's Cup runneth over
Horsham through to Bob Rogers Cup semi-final where they face Haywards Heath
Match Report by Nathan Jervis
Grey clouds gathered at Coolhurst on Saturday. While the rain thankfully abated, the cold temperatures did not. Bravely, this reporter stood firm in wool and fleece and prepared to brace against the elements for the Cup fixture against Brighton that was about to unfold. Expectations were fair to middling, unlike the weather, and a sense of pensive trepidation befell the home spectators. The players evidently did not feel this same sense, and entered The Field of 4G in confident fashion. There was no sign of Tim Smith this weekend, but there had however been sightings of him at The Stoop in Twickenham, accompanied by a number of Under 17 girls. The relevant authorities were naturally informed.
The whistle blows, and the game begins. Horsham kick off and Brighton gather, immediately moving forward with intent. A grubber is attempted but is safely gathered by Declan Nwachukwu who in turns attempts a chip and run. A period of kicking ensues which gives neither side much of an advantage, but did help in keeping this reporters neck muscles warm. With the aid of their generously proportioned number 16, Brighton eventually drive into Horsham's 22. Horsham find themselves in possession and counter, however the ball is spilled by Emmet O'Rahilly. Iain Fisher was pitch side to provide some thoughtful reflection: "Sometimes you need to make mistakes, in order to learn from them". Poignant stuff there from the former Horsham hooker. With 15 minutes gone play is a dead-heat.
It was beginning to look like this would be a game of fine margins, and an even finer non-alcoholic beverage in the form of Becks blue for this reporter. During dry January he has become quite partial to the stuff, but must note that he is in no way affiliated with Becks and does not formally endorse their product. At the 17 minute mark the stalemate was broken. Declan gathers a Brighton clearance and is able to find Mathieu Pecharman out wide, Mathieu runs an excellent line and is joined on the wing by Joe Wilde who provides options. Mathieu checks one player, dummies, and runs the ball smoothly over the line for Horsham's first. Smooth stuff from the Frenchman, but not as smooth as Becks Blue, the thinking man's lager alternative, available at your local Waitrose. Tom "consistent conversion kicker" Johnson somewhat awkwardly misses his first, but he must have heard Iain Fisher's words of wisdom over the wind as this would be his last missed kick of the game.
The reset sees Brighton on the offensive. However, in their gusto to even out the scores discipline falters and they give away a penalty which Tom Johnson comfortably slots between the posts. With 21 minutes on the clock Horsham find themselves 8-0 up. A hard fought first quarter, with the 8 points not being given away lightly. 3 minutes later Mathieu would be in the limelight once again as he is given the ball out wide and glides past the Brighton defence to score his, and Horsham's, second of the day. Johnson, now warmed up, comfortably kicks the extras to put Horsham 15 points ahead.
Brighton again reset, compose, and hit back at Horsham. Moving the ball well they gain ground and - Interception! Joe Wilde darts through the line with what is fast becoming his trademark move. Appropriate nickname suggestions are now being received, although "The Interceptor" is currently the front runner. Although "Sticky Fingers" is also in the mix, this may not be related to rugby. Johnson converts to bring Horsham's number to 22, as yet un-answered, points. Horsham display technical prowess all over the park, but particularly in the scrums and are rewarded as a result with a penalty in Brighton's 22. Johnson kicks, 25-0.
Excellent ball carrying and physicality from Tom "still trying to shed the weight from that cruise 3 years ago" Johnson puts a brace of Brighton defenders on their backs. An advantage is not gained however and Brighton win a line out. Horsham win the ball and Nick Bell attempts some rarely seen flare in the form of a reverse backwards pass. It doesn't work, but bloody well done for trying, Nick. This may be becoming weekly, but this reporter has an admission to make: he left in search of refreshment at the 40 minute mark (Becks Blue, the refreshing lager alternative) and missed the Kyle Fairs try. In an attempt to salvage journalistic integrity he tried to gleam details from other spectators. The accounts were so varied however that it can only be described as follows: Brighton were moving the ball well (either in their own 22 or Horsham's, depending on who you speak to), at which point Kyle "Year of the Pig" Fairs does a "Joe Wilde" out of position and intercepts the ball. According to one source he then lumbered over the remaining 3 yards to sore. According to another source he sprinted 60 yards with 5 Brighton players simply unable to keep up with his massive speed. Either way, along with Johnson adding the extras, this put Horsham 32-0 up at half time.
There would be no quarter from Horsham as, immediately after the second half restart, Jonny Whiting makes a series of excellent carries gaining valuable yardage before passing to Jonny Goward who finds himself in possession of the ball mere yards from Brighton's try line. Goward led with his cheek and gathers up the points. Johnson tops them up and Horsham start the second half leading 39-0. Brighton were visibly rattled by now and were starting to make more and more mistakes. However, just enough composure is retained for Brighton to eventually find a gap in Horsham's line and put points on the board for the first time in the game. The number 10 comfortably converts, 39-7.
Joue-Joue rugby was truly on display for the next 10 minutes. Horsham were relaxed now and their style showed this. Fancy hands from the young trio of Marcus Condon, Jordan Bell and Declan Nwachukwu was pure entertainment for the spectators. Not only was this entertaining, but it bore fruit as the ball is again swung out wide to find the one and only Mathieu, alternatively from now on known as "Menage a trois", or simply "Le Trois", who glides down the wing and puts the ball over for his third. Contrary to what was claimed earlier in this report Johnson misses the conversion, I could go back and edit that part out, but this is hard hitting journalism, and to do so would be dishonest.
"Le Trois" had clearly had an effect on the boys as two more tries came in a flurry next equating to three in the course of 5 minutes. The first sees interplay between Marcus Condon and Declan which results in a comfortable run over the line for Declan, Johnson converts. 2 minutes later after the reset Joe Wilde is gifted the ball in space and is able to comfortably run through Brighton's line, cover 30 metres, and score. Johnson converts to put Horsham's total at 58-7. In what could almost be a tale of redemption, Emmet O'Rahilly is able to put himself on the score sheet following his earlier fumble and Iain Fisher's tough words. After further displays of jazzy ball handling from Horsham Emmet is able to collect and find an inviting gap to put the ball over the line. Johnson again converts; 65-7 with 8 minutes left on the clock.
The next try could be described using any number of adjectives; sublime, majestic, glorious, splendid, rapturous - to name but a few. What can be agreed is that it was very, very, extremely, and without question, good. A definitely intentional cross field kick from Jordan Bell finds, absolutely intentionally, Mathieu. After beating one player he chips the ball, a chip that was begging for mayonnaise, up and in to the path of Declan who could not have timed his run any more perfectly. From there it was a mere 10 yard dash for the petrol powered phenom to score Horsham's last. With the extras added by Johnson Horsham finish on 72 points. Brighton are deservedly able to find the try line themselves after the reset, but at the death of game, which sees the final score at 72-14.
Head Coach Nick Stocker had done well to make it back in time for the game from his admin run in Nairobi during the week, but was mysteriously absent from the clubhouse after the game. One onlooker mentioned they had passed Head Coach Nick Stocker high-tailing it north on the A264 between Horsham and Crawley on their way to the club. This could only mean one thing. Once this reporter had parked his car, and asked a few confused pedestrians for directions, he eventually found HMV. Sure enough, there in the blu-ray section he stood. Transfixed, it is unlikely he had ever seen that many DVD's in one place.
"Nick" He said softly, "Nick, it's the reporter, a few words for the report?"
Head Coach Nick Stocker paused, "Aye, lad, a few words" he took a deep breath: "A pleasing result which maintains momentum ahead of a big league match next week away to Charlton Park. We took the opportunity to rest a few players and with the enforced change at 9 due to illness, we adapted very well. Some good performances all round with players putting their hands up for selection in the coming weeks and combined with the Lions beating Crawley 1st team comfortably, the selection quandaries as we approach important games will be interesting. Man of the match was awarded to Mathieu Pecharman for his hat trick and all round performance. In three appearances he has now scored 5 tries and together with Declan Nwachukwu offers real threat out wide which we continue to try to exploit. Next week we have a real test of our season aspirations with a tough away fixture against Charlton Park who lie in second in the league."
Barry's butties will be available in the clubhouse next Saturday morning before game.
In the semi-final of the Bob Rogers Cup Horsham have been drawn at home to Haywards Heath on 23rd February.