Horsham maintain the pressure on the leaders ahead of titanic clash
The first half is the deepest
Match Report by Nathan Jervis
In this the second game of the year of the Pig, Horsham would face off against a travelling Thanet Wanderers. Coming off a well fought win last week, as well as a win against Thanet in the first leg earlier in the season, high expectations were put upon Horsham to bring home the bacon (year of the pig pun). Would the Green and Whites rise to the challenge? Would Thanet reek bloody revenge from their defeat all those months ago? Would the two sides fight to a draw? Look, Horsham won, but this reporter has a flare for the dramatic and waxing lyrical adds flavour.
The day would see a game of one half, the first. Physicality, devastating runs, excellent ball handling and impressive finishes - and a field day for innuendo. For the obligatory mention of Tim Smith this week this reporter would like to note three transgressions – a threesome if you will. 1) The footwear was marginally more practical than last week, but more suited to a 16 year old boy attempting to buy cigarettes from Tesco’s. 2) Two pints downed prior to the game summed up how well dry January was going for Tim. 3) Eight pints downed by 5pm, see point 2).
Both teams started the game with a similar level of intensity. Michael Tredgett immediately makes an impression with a series of good carries, setting the tone for the rest of the half. Continued pressure from Horsham sees scrum awarded and Tredgett able to pick and drive over the line to score Horsham’s first try. Tom Johnson converts well to put seven points on the board with 10 minutes gone of the game. Due to a history of gambling, Johnson carries with him the nickname “Cashy”. This reporter would like to submit the alternative: “consistent conversion kicker”. Not as snappy, but far more accurate.
The second try demands it’s very own paragraph. The term “Champagne rugby” is batted about altogether too freely in this reporter’s opinion, including by this reporter. However, what was witnessed by the lucky few on the side-line and on the pitch was nothing short of Exquisite. Footage of which will be available to view on the Horsham Rugby Club Facebook page, head coach Nick Stocker will also be making copies on DVD for distribution. Direct from the reset Horsham collect the ball and it is spun out wide to Declan Nwachukwu – quads on fire – who pumps down the wing. Before he is tackled in to touch, a well weighted pass inside to Joe Wilde sees two Thanet tacklers beaten. Wilde is able to check another defenders step and lay off to Marcus Condon who loses no momentum and lays off to Nick Bell. More ground is gained by Bell and the ball is popped up to Johnson who manages to find Aaron Linfield who in turns manages to find the Try line to score. All this happens inside 30 seconds from the ball being gathered after the reset. In the words of Ella Fitzgerald et al, Thanet were left bewitched, bothered and bewildered.
Horsham were building momentum now. Bolstered by the sheer aesthetic value of the last try, they were now playing with confidence and flare. This reporter would be so bold as to say the Green and Whites looked like they were having…fun. Whether or not this is true is debatable, but the net result was another try at the 17 minute mark. Albeit a penalty try. Nwachukwu had managed to find the try line but was subject to a high tackle in the act of doing so. 21 points on the board for Horsham.
A period of 15 minutes of back and forth followed. Multi-phase play from both Horsham and Thanet would see attack and defence on display, and being tested, by both sides. The pendulum eventually swings in Horsham’s favour as it spun wide to Jordan Smith in Thanet’s 22 who is able to power over the line. Some rectification for Smith after last week’s disallowed try. Again, Tom “consistent conversion kicker” Johnson kicks well to see out the first half with Horsham showing 28 unanswered points on the board.
Half time sees Michael Tredgett off for the young, wedge shaped, Vince Everitt.
The second half would be all about sustained Thanet pressure. Arguably at the fault of Horsham, but also taking nothing away from Thanet’s drive. This pressure from Thanet would show some cracks in Horsham, first in the form of a yellow card for Jordan Bell after a tackle from an offside position (in an otherwise flawless performance). As this pressure continued Horsham displayed fine defence in all areas of the pitch. They demonstrated similar composure and discipline defending on their own try line as they did from turnover ball in the oppositions half.
Ultimately though, the relentless nature of Thanet’s attack eventually found reward. Following a series of penalties given against Horsham, Thanet were able to find the try line after a sustained 20 minute period of forward momentum. The try is converted to see Thanet with 7 points on the board for the first time in the game. 21-7 to Horsham with 60 minutes gone.
After some scrappy play Everitt is able to make an impression and beat multiple tacklers before laying off to Declan who manages to capitalise on his position and score. There is no doubt in this reporters mind that the younger contingent emerging through the Horsham ranks will provide dynamism and depth for years to come. The likes of Declan, Vince, Marcus Condon, Aaron Linfield and others shows how bright the prospects for Horsham 1st XV. That is not even to mention the talent being displayed in the colts that has yet to be tapped. Tom “consistent conversion kicker” Johnson (this reporter is determined to make it stick) again converts to put Horsham 35-7 up after 66 minutes.
Wilde would be next to score for Horsham via some sublime positioning. Thanet were moving the ball well, backed up in their own 22, before Wilde reads the movement and intercepts to coast over the line. A gift, but a well-deserved one to be sure. The consistent conversion kicker slots the ball of the posts, again, to see Horsham push up to 42 – 7.
Thanet would not go quietly into that good night however, and were able to steal points as the game drew to its close. A converted try from good pressure put the final score at 42 – 14.
After the game this reporter sought to replenish his supply of Becks blue, and also grab a few words from head coach Nick Stocker. Becks blue was replenished, but no sign of Horsham’s head coach! A small party searched high and low. No sign of him behind the bar, nor in the toilets. Just as this reporter was about to give up and enjoy his Becks Blue, he noticed on the floor by the back door something shiny. As he bent down to see what it was he could see three very faint letters on the strange object: “ray”. Curious. He walked outside and saw another fragment, this time with the letters “blu” faintly visible in the mirrored plastic. It was then that this reporter could see more objects of a similar nature littering the floor, glinting in the moonlight. As he followed them he could hear the faint sound of mariachi music and the smell of werthers originals. He followed the noise, and smell, until he happened across head coach Nick Stocker in his car, breaking up DVD’s and tossing them out the window. Odd behaviour to be sure, but unfortunately not surprising.
“A few thoughts on the game head coach Nick Stocker?” this reporter asked, gently, so as not to startle the man.
“DVD’s break like anything else you know. They are not indestructible, they said DVD’s were indestructible.” Head coach Nick Stocker whispered, his voice shaking. Suddenly he was composed and sitting upright, so quickly that this reporter was only just able to record his stream of comments on the day’s game:
“A fantastic first half with 4 very good tries, the second being one of the best tries seen at Coolhurst for some time. The forwards were excellent with telling contributions from Michael Tredgett, Richard Tredget and Jordan Smith. The physicality was noticeable with the likes of Nick Bell and Dan Cass to the fore whilst Ted Powell grows more assured at hooker each week and Jack Osgood is increasingly influential.
In the backs, the pace creates havoc. The back three of Mattieu, Marcus and Declan were excellent whilst Joe Wilde and TJ in the centres created space all afternoon. Jordan Bell at 10 continues to control play well knowing when to kick and when to put his runners into holes. Aaron Linfield at 9 plays with a maturity beyond his years and continues to improve weekly. With so many good performances, the standout today was that of Jamie Redmayne. His physicality in both attack and defence, combined with his organisation saw a huge contribution to the result.
Next week we play Brighton in the Sussex cup at home whilst our second team play Crawley in the cup. We return to league action with a huge game against Charlton Park and the battle for second place in the league.”
As he walked back to the clubhouse, away from the sound of mariachi music and stench of toffee sweets, this reporter reflected on the mystery of the man. Truly, an enigma, but a puzzle for another day.