A Game of Three Halves
By Nick Stocker
Power Surge in the Second Half secures 5th bonus point win on the bounce
Match Report by Nathan Jervis
Spirits were deservedly high going into the game away at Aylesford. Horsham off the back of four wins and a plethora of bonus points, Aylesford on a tentative run so far this season. This reporter travelled up early with two of Horsham's elite tacklers, Jordan Smith and Nick Bell. Tim Smith was absent, but would later be located lingering around the fairground rides at Horsham RUFC's prestigious firework's night. The lack of this distraction meant copious notes were on the cards - refreshment would wait.
The first 10 minutes undoubtedly looked to favour Aylesford. Efficient tackling and more dominant physicality saw Horsham somewhat startled from the off. Aylesford dominated in the centre of the park and Horsham seemed unable to gain ground. Fortuitously, Horsham won a line out deep in Aylesford's 22 which Tom Blewitt was able to capitalise from and put Horsham points on the board first with 11 minutes gone. Joe Wilde converts to see Horsham somehow 7 points ahead in the face of convincing Aylesford play.
Aylesford displayed a consistent level of intensity throughout the first half which saw Horsham never quite able to settle into a rhythm. This lack of control saw a number of penalties which constituted a signification portion of Aylesford's final score. Horsham conceded 2 penalties within 2 minutes of each other, only one of which goes over. Points for Aylesford on the board then at the 20 minute mark, 7-3.
The 3 points appeared to give Aylesford an extra sense of urgency, Horsham were forced to defend desperately against multiple attacks. These attacks bore fruit for Aylesford at the 28 minute mark; the ball is swung out wide to their number 13 who
was able to grubber and collect to put the ball down in the corner. The try is unconverted but puts Aylesford ahead for the first time in the game. The rest of the half would see multiple phases of play in Aylesford's favour. Horsham were unable to gain any ground through the middle, which frustrated the Horsham forwards culminating in another penalty conceded, and kicked, at the death of the half. Half-time score, 7-11, Aylesford ahead.
This reporter noted at the time that Horsham looked as if they needed their fire stoking, fire stoking they wanted, Nick Stocker they got.
Whether by coincidence or not, the return of Horsham's head coach coincided with a faintly detectable change in energy on the field. Horsham start with a very strong scrum, the decision however goes in Aylesford's favour - to the admonishment of Horsham's runner up supporter of the year 2016, Justin. Horsham appeared more urgent this half, and were carrying ball more efficiently and with more physicality. The first 10 minutes would see a shift in inertia which resulted in the momentum finally being gained through solid Horsham work. After 50 minutes Jack Osgood is able to powerfully drive through Aylesford's defence to score Horsham's 2nd. Joe Wilde is able to convert putting Horsham back ahead, and would remain so for the remainder of the game.
The two teams did the rugby thing for another 10 minutes or so before Chris Double was able to put the ball over the line for a "Try". The angle on the "conversion" was tough however and Joe Wilde went wide. At 19-11 Horsham confidence was growing by the second. The tide of play had well and truly turned in their favour and this reporter was able to finally drink his beer in relative peace. Jack Osgood made some excellent carries and displayed impressive rugby intelligence. Adam Halsey displayed his own unique brand of intelligence on the sideline as well, helpfully advising a wayward Aylesford spectator the difference between a neck and an armpit after some accusatory remarks were made concerning a perceived high tackle. The spectator took the impromptu anatomy lesson well, and this reporter suspects he may even have taken some notes.
Back to the game, 64 minutes in would see a Horsham line out won to allow Johnny Whiting to drive the ball into the corner. Joe Wilde by now is up to speed with his kicking and comfortably converts from a difficult angle to see Horsham ahead 26-11.
Securing his position as this reporter's man of the match, Jack Osgood scores in the corner after excellent Horsham movement, Try is converted to put Horsham comfortably ahead at 33-11. At 70 minutes, and with a 3 try difference, this reporter was about to top up his beer when the ball is moved out wide to Declan Nwachuckwu who runs in his own infamous style through Aylesford's line to score. Such was the panache of Dec's try, even the Aylesford's supporters were starting to become enamoured with him as a player.
At 40-11 Ben Pirt would expose Aylesford's backs, and in the process his arse - ripped shorts - but not before running "great chan" and tackling well all game. Dan Cass once again thew his considerable weight around the field, usually horizontally, and usually into the mi-drift of a short-to-be winded Aylesford player. Horsham were out of danger now and and were moving the ball around with ease. 73 minutes in Will Johnson, deserved after a sterling performance, scores in the corner. Wilde goes wide however. 45-11.
Chris Double receives a yellow card for passing the ball, head height and at pace, to an Aylesford player. The last 5 minutes would therefore not include Chris, however a solid display on the day as is becoming a hallmark of the young player. Aylesford's last stand is neutralised by Horsham to see Declan again accelerate away from exasperated Aylesford backs to score, unconverted, to see the final score stand at 50 - 11.
As Nick Stocker was not present for the first half, watching a DVD in his car, he deferred comments on the game this week to Richard Bell:
"Game of two halves, once Horsham got over the game line the momentum shifted in their favour. Jack Osgood undoubtedly man of the match, carried well and tackled with equal gusto. Defence for Horsham ultimately proved untenable for Aylesford."
After a shaky start and a nervous first half, Horsham rallied hard to score 43 un-answered points in the second. The third quarter saw Horsham gaining momentum, the last quarter saw Horsham fully retain control and capitalise to great effect.
On that note, this reporter made his excuses and left, in search of refreshment.
With a break from League action this week, Horsham play away in the RFU Intermediate cup against Hammersmith & Fulham on Saturday 10th November. League action returns with a mouth watering home game against Dover on 17 November at home.