Horsham consolidate their hold on second place with convincing win
The crowd goes Wilde for Joe
Match report by Nathan Jervis
Since 240BC astronomers have been infatuated by a celestial being which appears, visible to the human eye, every 75 years. Spanning across nearly every ancient civilisation, Halley’s comet has been the subject of much speculation. Some saw it as bad omen, indeed, for King Harold in 1066 seeing it burn brightly in the night sky did not turn out too fortuitously for him. For the Norman King William however, the story was somewhat different. Its last appearance was the 9th of February 1986, 33 years ago to the day on which Horsham host Heathfield and Waldron at Horsham HQ. Another celestial being burned brightly on Saturday - and he scored five tries. More on that later though as there is much to get through.
A tentative start by both teams sees middling play for the first 17 minutes. A lack of care is shown with the ball by Horsham which is repeatedly jumped on by Heathfield. A back and forth ensues of attack and counter, turnovers and kicks. Horsham finally manage to gain the advantage with their own counter attack, with Richard Tredgett driving through the middle and laying the ball off to Joe Wilde. A deft dummy and pop pass put debutant Sam Hampson in dangerous territory, and he is able to find the try line for Horsham’s first. Tom Johnson converts well in blustery conditions. 7-0, with 17 minutes gone.
Nick Bell is then able to find himself on the scoresheet, and in the report, as Jonny Whiting gathers the ball from a quickly taken penalty and offloads to Bell who drives over the line to score. Nick Bell is one of Horsham’s most consistent work-horses, and this reporter feels a try a season is deserved recompense for this. Johnson converts - a phrase this reporter is at risk of carpel tunnel syndrome from typing so often! 14-0, 21 minutes gone.
Heathfield’s heads at this point show no sign of dropping. Another hard attack from the reset however is nullified by Aaron Linfield who clears. Heathfield spill the ball for Jonny Whiting to gather and break with power down the wing. A nifty lay off to the young wizard Aaron Linfield puts him in a dangerous position but with work still to do. Linfield excels at hard work however and is able to beat multiple tacklers to score. Johnson, again, converts. The conditions for kicking on Saturday were not at all favourable either. 21-0 with 10 minutes left of the half. Horsham at this point only needed to see out the last 10 and maintain a comfortable three try lead.
Joe Wilde had other ideas. Heathfield again compose themselves well from the reset and initiate a threatening phase of attacking play. What they had not noticed however was the interceptor calculating wind sheer and ball trajectory from a covered position behind the gain line. When the moment presented itself, he struck. A devastating interception for the fourth game in a row. Horsham go in to halftime 28 unanswered points in the lead.
The second half saw a quick-fire tirade of points, led by the bright-burning Joe Wilde. If astronomers had known what was happening at Coolhurst they would have surely re-aligned their telescopes to marvel at it. A strong carry from Sam Hampson kicks off proceedings. Excellent support from Aaron Linfield sees space gained and Joe Wilde with fingers outstretched. Gliding over the line, Wilde puts his name on the sheet for the second time. The wild weather finally un-settles Johnson and the extras are not added. 33-0 only 1 minute in to the half.
Only 4 minutes later Jonny Ordidge finds himself with ball in hand, but with a tackler between him and the line. This issue was dealt with by a drop of the shoulder and simple physics. Jonny Ordidge puts the ball over the line, and the tackler on his behind. Johnson gets his eye back in and is able to convert. 40-0, 5 minutes gone of the second half. A “comedy of errors” ensues from the reset which sees a soft try conceded against. Heathfield demonstrate that, despite the points difference, they will present a threat in open play until the 80th minute. 40-7 at the 47th minute mark.
Another old-hat in the form of Jonny Whiting chisels his name on to the score board 2 minutes later. Horsham react quickly from an overthrown Heathfield line out and shift the ball quickly to Nick Bell who is able to break through the gain line with Whiting in support. Whiting then uses most of his considerable bulk to bounce two tacklers leaving nothing but synthetic grass between him and the try line. The extras are added by Johnson, the score is 47-7. After an excellent game by the young wizard Linfield, a re-shuffle in the pack brings Adam Clarkson in to the fray. On any other day Aaron would have been strong contender for this reporter’s man of the match. However, there was another on this day who simply burned too brightly.
Horsham maintain an untenable momentum which Heathfield were unable to deal with. Impressive promise is shown by Sam Hampson. Blistering runs around the park demonstrate a level of pace, combined with that of Declan Nwachukwu, which will undoubtedly send ripples through the league. Joe Wilde fancied himself another five points at the 53-minute mark. Rob Grant put in a strong performance after a list minute call up and breaks well down the line to see the ball inside to Joe Wilde. Wilde finds a gap and runs comfortably over the line for his third. With the two points added by Johnson, the score sits at 54-7.
Joe Wilde was still thirsty however. The only thing that could shake his thirst on this day was points, and he very nearly drowned himself in them. Another break after confusion in fringe play puts Joe Wilde in space and ball in hand. Only one thing was going to happen. Johnson adds the extras, 61-7. Scrappy play from the reset by Horsham results in another try conceded, deservedly so for Heathfield. Un-converted, 61-12.
Wilde’s lust for points was not satisfied. Four tries, 20 points, and an individual bonus point was apparently not enough. Opportunity knocked on the halfway line and Joe Wilde answered with a laboured run to the line. The crowd was beside themselves; babies were wailing, men were crying, women were offended, although this was likely due to Tim Smith arriving. Johnson converts, 68-12. As testament to Heathfield’s fortitude; at the 78th minute they were able to steal a consolation try. The final score was set at 68-17. A thrilling game – bar the first 17 minutes.
“He’s behind the TV” Nicole said, pouring this reporter a pint of wolf pack pilsner.
“What do you mean behind the TV, what could he possibly be looking for – oh I see” this reporter was slow on the uptake, but went to find head coach Nick Stocker for some thoughts on the game.
“Head coach Nick Stocker” He said gently, “Head coach Nick Stocker, you know we don’t have one”
“I know. I just, I just wanted to check that’s all. I suppose you’ll be wanting some thoughts on the game? Sit down lad, let me tell’thee a yarn for the ages…”
“Given the tightness of the league, it was important to secure a bonus point today. With 5 regular starters missing and a couple of injuries still in recovery, the depth of the squad was tested today with good performances across the team. Whilst the early phases saw parity at the scrum given the wind making a lottery of the lineout, it was the pace and skill set of our offloading game that was the difference between both teams. Across the team we had solid ball carriers who in turn were well supported to keep the game flowing. Noteworthy contributions from the likes of all three Jonny’s - Goward, Whiting and Ordidge together with Rich Tredgett and Nick Bell ensured our backs always had a steady stream of front foot ball to use.
The back three of Sam Hampson on debut, Marcus Condon and Rob Grant who was called up only this afternoon offered threats all afternoon. With Tom Johnson and Aaron Linfield pulling the strings, the result was an excellent attacking performance from both centres with 6 tries scored between them. With a host of strong performances, ably led by Rich Tredgett and with huge carries by Jonny Whiting, it took an exceptional performance from Joe Wilde to earn himself the MOTM award. Scoring 5 tries, ranging from interceptions, outside breaks and loose ball returns, he is a real threat and making it a real competition for leading scorer un Declan Nwachukwu’s absence today.
Next week we have a tough away trip to Deal and Betteshangar who we have never beaten at their place. If we intend to hold on to second spot, we must reverse that trend of recent years.”