Inclement weather forces rugby match...to carry on completely as normal
Match Report by Nathan Jervis
Horsham RUFC's new AGP (artificial grass pitch) truly earned it's keep on Saturday as Horsham's 1st XV took on Charlton Park in appalling conditions. Following on from an excellently covered away win last week; hopes were high. However, it would require more than hope if Horsham were to secure the win, a win that they had not been able to achieve against Charlton Park in the four years since promotion to London 2 South East.
An impressive display of grim determination, grit, and resilience was evident all around the new AGP. The supporter's, including this reporter, would truly have their metal tested as the downpour did it's very best to dampen spirits, and dilute beers. This grit would also be demonstrated on the field by the players who, arguably, had a tougher 80 minutes to come than the spectators. This reporter, however, would argue that juggling a pint and an umbrella, as well as keeping rolling papers dry, is no mean feat and should be appropriately recognised.
Some significant changes to the team that fielded against Beckenham would bring a different dynamic to Horsham. Both Richard and Michael Tredgett were present, bringing with them a physicality which some viewers have, on occasion, found distressing. In the conditions however solid ball carrying would prove key, and it was this physicality which contributed to it's successful implementation.
The first five minutes of the game were tough, and hard to watch. The conditions really were very trying, and this reporter's decision to wear denim was proving fatal, as well only spending £4.99 on a petrol garage bought umbrella. The situation was exasperated by a Charlton Park try, although thankfully not converted. The next 10 minutes would consist of muffled cries, robust language, and true British grit, both on and off the pitch, as the players fought to gain ground in the conditions, and this reporter's umbrella finally fully inverted.17 minutes later this display of grit was rewarded as Michael Tredgett was able to power over the line for Horsham's 1st try. Tom Johnson converts into the wind to edge Horsham ahead.
The fine quality of the new AGP has created, in more ways than one, the most level of playing fields. This was particularly highlighted Saturday as the pitch quite evidently would not be affected by the inclement weather, instead both teams would be subjected to identical conditions through the entire 80 minutes. It would therefore be a stalemate at times as both sides fought for consistency in their ball handling, kicking not being a safe option, consistency which often could not be found. At the 26 minute mark Charlton Park were able to find Horsham's line again, and again were unable to convert. 7 - 10, Horsham trailing. Shortly after, Charlton Park received a yellow to take the game into half time.
This reporter will now admit that, at this point, and to his shame, he was driven inside by the cold and the rain. He would like to say that his commitment to Horsham rugby club is unbreakable, as well as immeasurable. However, it has now proved to be very much measurable, as it took exactly 40 minutes in those conditions to prove sufficient to break this reporter's resolve. "I need to watch Horsham play the second half!" he bellowed into the blackened clouds, but he was dragged inside by a concerned Amanda Kelland, former 1st team physio and healthcare professional, to whom he had to relent on this occasion. Interestingly enough, the excitement of the first half had worked up quite the thirst in this reporter, refreshment would be warmly welcomed.
This reporter's sources assured him that the second half was as hard fought as the first, and Horsham were ultimately rewarded with the win. However, not before Charlton Park were able to put a last minute try over the line to bring the final score to 24 - 20 to Horsham, and secure Charlton Park 2 bonus points.
This reporter was able to interrupt Nick Stocker, 1st team head coach, while talking to the room at large about the need for more DVD players for the clubhouse for some thoughts on the match:
"A physically tough game played in challenging conditions which meant fluency for both sides was lacking. Charlton Parks ball carriers were dangerous but well shackled defensively preventing any real try scoring opportunities against. Tries were conceded as a result of clever kicks or penalties leading to field position and set piece pressure which we could not withstand on every occasion. This eventually lead to Parks final try gifting them a bonus point which was disappointing.
Our attack was more threatening but conditions were such we were probably guilty of trying to throw the ball around too much and we only saw glimpses of the potential through the game. We carried effectively lead by the Tredgett brothers with Michael being awarded the man of the match shading it from skipper Richard. Their efforts, along with a vibrant back row saw ground made and 4 good tries scored. The front row had a tough day but as the game wore on, they managed to solve the problems of earlier in the game and settled into the physicality of the fixture.
In the backs, Chris Double followed up last weeks hat trick with a well taken try, Joe Wilde made telling contributions from 15 and Tom Johnson relished in the physicality all day. Young scrum half Aaron Lindfield is a real live wire and Marcus Condon scored a fine try on debut which will certainly aid his development at this level.
All in all pleased with the bonus point result against one of the leagues contenders particularly when considering that we started the game with three 18 year olds on the pitch and finished with 5. A true test of character that they stood up to very well indeed."
A solid win for Horsham this week, a game where all involved were tested. Horsham passed this test, and on this occasion Charlton Park did not. Nor did, to his shame, this reporter. Normal service will resume next week with all 80 minutes properly observed.