Horsham in dogged away win at Heathfield & Waldron
Green and Whites remain fourth
Horsham remain in fourth place in London 2 South East after winning 39-24 away at Heathfield & Waldron in a scrappy, error-strewn game. Hove’s defeat at Dartfordians sees the leaders maintain their apparent inexorable march to the title but with only one point separating the next three sides the battle for the runners-up spot is on.
With six changes to last week’s match day squad Horsham took a while to settle but the number of personnel changes was similar for both teams which perhaps affected the quality of the match.
The game started with a moment of individual brilliance from Joe Wilde. With only two minutes on the clock, right wing Dave Barber, receiving the ball just inside the Heathfield & Waldron half and seeing that he was being closed down, kicked long. The kick return was loose and fielded by Joe Wilde who glided past several defenders and some ineffectual tackling to score a solo try from 40 yards which he converted. 0-7.
The game was quite disjointed with mistakes being made by both teams but when Heathfield & Waldron put together some phases of possession they secured a penalty in front of the posts which was slotted by Sean Crozier. 3-7.
When Horsham were awarded with a penalty Mike Watts responded with a quick tap making an elusive break and great yardage. Jordan Bell chipped ahead, Wilde was first to secure the ball on the ground which was recycled and kicked wide, and when the ball went loose Rob Grant was the first to pounce and score. 3-12.
A few minutes later Jordan Bell kicked a penalty into touch ten yards from the try line underneath the clubhouse and after a catch and drive off a line-out captain Nick Bell passed to bustling prop Kyle Fairs running a great line to crash through to score 3-19.
All credit to Heathfield & Waldron however because they refused to buckle and although Horsham looked to be building a winning lead they could never shake-off the redoubtable opposition. The close driving play of the home side saw them gain ground with some attritional play and when they were awarded a penalty, a quick tap from open side flanker Harry Vidler saw him run through and score leaving several defenders in his wake. Crozier converted and the deficit was narrowed to 10-19.
Neither side appeared to be able to build any dominance as they took it turns to score. A Jordan Bell chip over the top caused confusion in the Heathfield & Waldron defence and with the ball again bouncing loose Andy Carvell put Jonny Goward away for the bonus point try. 10-24.
This was immediately answered when the home side answered in kind and Crozier chipped over the onrushing defence and with Henry Ross the first to regather he off-loaded to Crozier, with the suspicion of a forward pass, to score under the posts and convert his own try. Soon after the restart Wilde was yellow-carded for a swinging arm but Heathfield & Waldron were unable to take advantage of the extra man and the score remained unchanged going in to the half-time break.
Soon after the start of the second half Heathfield & Waldron wing Will Tyler was sin-binned for a high tackle, and when the decision was disputed the home side were marched back a further 10 yards, and from the ensuing line-out Horsham took advantage of the extra man when Jonny Whiting made a powerful run to score. 17-31.
Heathfield & Waldron bounced back and again reduced the deficit to seven points when after a period of pressure Horsham were adjudged to have illegally stopped a drive by the hosts and conceded a penalty try. Heathfield & Waldron looked to have the ascendancy so when Horsham won a penalty in front of the posts Wilde kicked the points on offer. 24-34.
Going in to the last quarter Horsham used their bench replacements and Iain Fisher and Adam Clarkson made a real impact against a tiring home side. Horsham now started to shove Heathfield & Waldron back in the scrums and Carvell made a great break out before the ball was thrown forward in the tackle, and too many mistakes were being made to establish any dominance. Dan Cass was then yellow carded for a swinging arm which became a red for querying the decision with the referee and Horsham were obliged to play out the last ten minutes with 14 men.
A great line-out steal by Adam Clarkson stopped an attack 5 yards from the Horsham try line, and then Watts went on an elusive run, followed by a kick to relieve the pressure. When Horsham were awarded a scrum in the final minute of the game, Jordan Bell spotted a misalignment in the Heathfield & Waldron defence and went on an arcing run to out-pace the cover and score a wonderful solo try in the corner. 24-39.
Horsham head coach Nick Stocker reflected after the game: “Given the changes with new combinations in the back three, back row and half backs, the team produced a solid performance which was pleasing. We gave up possession very cheaply as a result of some mis-communication because of the changes and were guilty of playing too much in our half which allowed a resilient team field position from which they scored two simple tries. Cut out our penalties, play field position and we start to look a good squad that is very young and developing rapidly.
All in all a good return from a tough side to travel to.
Particular notes go to Johnny Goward as man of the match with the likes of Jordan Bell, Nick Bell, Mike Watts and Jake Lowe all prominent. The scrum also looked good today against notable opponents.”
Horsham: Watts; Grant (Murphy), Carvell, Wilde, Barber; Bell J, Mills; Fairs, Lowe (Fisher), Bell N (capt); Goward, Maguire (Clarkson); Cass, Smith, Whiting