Cut Finer Thanet Needed to Be
By Nick Stocker
Double Hatrick helps overcome stubborn Thanet
This week's report courtesy of Reporter Supporter Nathan Jervis
Coming off two defeats, Horsham 1st XV headed cross county to neighbouring Kent for what had every indication of being, and proved to be, a test of both rugby prowess, and team character. After Barry's bacon butties had been warmly welcomed at the club, the 1st team, plus this reporter supporter, set off. The feeling overall was positive, as were Tim's test results, but laced with some trepidation following the preceding two week's double defeat. The player's understandably looked to their leadership for support on these occasions; for composure, security, and direction. "I've brought a DVD for the coach!" Nick Stocker, 1st team head coach, exclaimed holding aloft a rectangular case still covered in it's plastic wrapping. There was no DVD player on the coach. Could anybody obtain a clear answer from Nick as to where he had managed to find a DVD in 2018? This reporter fears it will remain a mystery.
Horsham were greeted to a warm welcome at Thanet, and surrounded by pleasant Kentish vista the players assumed their various pre-match routines. Long gone are the days of tinnies and cigarettes, replaced instead by protein bars and complex carbohydrates. After a brief pre-amble with the warm and welcoming receiving party of Thanet RUFC, as well as a compliment of steak pie and gravy, this reporter made his excuses and left in search of refreshment.
Refreshed, positions were assumed by player and spectator alike for what would prove to be a high octane display of one team throwing a rugby ball to each other, and the other team trying to take that rugby ball off of them, and vice versa.
The whistle blew, the game was afoot.
Two minutes of solid ball retention by Horsham was rewarded with a penalty, deftly slotted between the posts by T. Johnson. This would be the start of a characteristically spotless kicking display by TJ. A heart pounding 9 minutes later was all that was needed for TJ to once again find himself gazing up at that familiar sight, and once again guide over another penalty to increase Horsham's early advantage. The first 20 minutes of the match would arguable prove to be Horsham's most composed, carrying ball well and neutralising probing attacks made by Thanet. This composure bore fruit as, 13 minutes in, a stunning run of play starting with a courageous carry by Jack Osgood, who passes to Nick Bell, who tips to Joe Wilde who was able to, against all the odds, cycle the ball to Chris Double to comfortably score a single under the posts. Converted comfortably, predictably, unsurprisingly, by TJ.
As the first quarter faded away into distant mem - no, wait, 1 minute into the second Q is all that is needed for Jordan Bell to find space and, combined with a chip that nearly had Ian Fisher asking for salt and vinegar, glide home for Horsham's second try. Momentum was gaining and Horsham's shifting inertia was proving un-tenable for Thanet leading up to half time. Just 6 minutes later a coercive effort between TJ and Jack Osgood dismantled Thanet's defensive line to see home Horsham's 3rd. TJ converts. Thanet Rally. Opportunity is given, and it is grasped, in the form of a counter attack by Thanet to a poor Horsham clearance. A score out wide puts Thanet on the scoreboard for the first time. The competent conversion displays a more than capable Thanet fly-half which, for maybe the first time in the game, sends a shiver down Horsham's spine. At which point this reporter made his excuses and left in search of refreshment.
Half time, Horsham lead 27 - 7.
A Chris Double double heralds the start of the second half. Joe Blake with the assist, and once again TJ steps up to convert. A good start. 3 minutes later good multi-play and consistent Horsham pressure sees another penalty awarded, 3 points collected comfortably. A very good start. If this reporter was of a more creative bent, he would describe how an ominous air of malignant intent descended over the Thanet players, and how the sky darkened and gave way to black clouds, accompanied by raven cries and, in the distance, thunder, so as to belay the turn in fortune that was about to befall Horsham. None of this happened, except, alas, the turn in fortune.
Stemming from a penalty kick to the corner, a catch and drive un-does Horsham's defence to see the ball powered over the line clutched in the arms of a Thanet forward. Again, Thanet's fly half proved unflappable as he slides over the conversion. Horsham's lead is reduced, 37-14, at which point this reporter made his excuses and left in search of refreshment. Refreshed, the game was anything but over. 12 minutes after the last, another try was scored by Thanet, and the conversion effortlessly made. Another conceded penalty led to a driving maul which, in a dominating fashion, found it's way over Horsham's line for a Thanet converted try. This reporter was about to make his excuses again when a penalty was awarded and TJ was able to find the posts putting Horsham in a more comfortable position at 40-26. Surely this would be enough, surely 2 converted tries would see this exhilarating game through, and this reporter well refreshed at the behest of Thanet's bar.
A Chris Double treble saw Horsham into the green beyond. A conversion by TJ sees Horsham sitting comfortably with 5 minutes left on the clock. Thanet's heads did not drop however and a converted try at the game's end bought the final score to 47 - 36. A Horsham win.
In one of his increasingly rare lucid moments, I was able to catch up the head coach for a few words: "Young 18 year old half backs Aaron Lindfield and Joe Blake were livewires throughout and on debut...With a steady stream of quick ball, we consistently got over the gain line with Jack Osgood and Jordan Smith particularly impressive. This allowed the space to be attacked cleverly with Tom Johnson and Jordan Bell creating space for Joe Wilde and Chris Double in particular to benefit scoring a hat trick. Amidst a raft of good performances, our Man Of Match went to Jack Osgood who was irrepressible today and shows just how rapidly he is developing as a player. And on the way back we can watch a DVD on the coach"
Overall a great away win, plus the bonus point, following two losses. However, after a strong start building a commanding lead, Horsham took their foot of the gas, which could have had dyer consequences. It was probably cut finer Thanet needed to be.