Off kilter Horsham manage the win
By Richard Ordidge
Horsham in nine try romp but too open defensively
Match report by Nathan Jervis
A depleted Horsham 1st XV trotted out on to the 3G pitch at Coolhurst on Saturday. Injuries, holidays, and prior engagements had forced creativity in team selection. Nevertheless, on paper the team looked strong, young, and - most significantly - quick. A welcome return to the 1st team by Mike Watts combined with Joe Wilde, Declan Nwachukwu, and Sam Hampson would provide devastating pace around the park. However, with Dan Cass out along with both Tredgett’s, as well as both Jordan’s, Horsham’s overall depth would be somewhat shallower than recent weeks. Tim Smith was also in attendance. Although being sober and tuckered out from his well-advertised 10K run that morning, refreshingly subdued.
This reporter would also like to make special mention of the barnstormer – there is no other word - that would play out adjacent to Horsham 1st XV on the field of dreams. Young George Howard making his senior debut at number 8 for the Lions was one notable highlight – undoubtedly an exciting and powerful prospect for the future. Hailing from Wigan, Greater Manchester, Sergio Bebiano was apparently briefly possessed by the spirit of his ancestral homeland, Spain, and successfully executed a chip and chase that had more flare than an angry Real Madrid supporter at the Bernabeu. A final score of 36-32 was truly deserved against a dogged Old Reigatians team. Wholesome stuff.
Facing bottom of the league Aylesford Bulls, Horsham 1st XV would, on paper, have good odds for the win. However, with the players out this week this was by no means guaranteed. A strong start would settle some Horsham nerves and make a necessary statement. A strong start we wanted, a hard prod we got. The dynamic duo of Sam Hampson and Declan Nwachukwu was deployed with dramatic effect. Sam breaking hard with what is becoming a trademark cross field trajectory, utilising sheer speed to run across and around tacklers, before laying off to Declan who engages his petrol-powered pistons pumping purposefully past perplexed players producing points. Tom Johnson kicks the extras. 7-0 after two minutes.
A high degree of expectation was undoubtedly put-upon Sam Hampson prior to his donning of the green and white. Rumours had circulated of his blistering pace and strength in attack. It is becoming clear that these rumours were fully justified. Another scorching break from Sam Hampson gains valuable yardage with Jack Osgood somehow maintaining close distance to receive the ball and put it over the line. Conditions were appalling for kicking, even with the huge talent of TJ the try went unconverted. 12-0, nine minutes gone.
Possibly frustrated by the missed kick, TJ attempts a trademark bosh but unfortunately forgets to engage his arms in the tackle resulting in a straight yellow and smacked bottom.
Coincidentally, three minutes later the ball is turned over and Aylesford manage to find a gap in Horsham’s line to put the ball over the line. Unconverted, but five points on the board against. 12-5, nineteen minutes gone.
After six minutes of unorganised play by Horsham, Aylesford capitalise via a well-judged cross field kick to a player in space who did not need to work nearly hard enough to find the try line. Horsham avoid the even score due to the conversion going wide, but still find themselves within tickling distance of the opposition on the scoreboard. 12-10, twenty-five minutes gone.
If the Israelite Samson had the pace of our own Sam Hampson, he might have been able to duck out of that Philistine temple in time before it fell. Completely his own fault, he demolished a load bearing stud wall. With only 10 metres between him and the line, Sam Hampson found himself ball in hand and with only a paltry two defenders to run around. Run around they were, and the try was scored. The conditions had not relented, and TJ was unable to convert. 17-10, twenty-seven minutes on the clock.
The other half of the dynamic duo, Declan Nwachukwu, chalked his name on the scoreboard for the second time in the game at the thirty minute mark. Following a strong carry by Emmet O’Rahilly, Declan changed gears and finds the line. Unconverted. 22-10. Half time.
Due to a late night the previous evening, this reporter was in search of caffeine and missed the first 5 minutes of the second half. James Johnson, taking a break from rustling horses in Newmarket, however reliably informed that Horsham conceded an unconverted try, followed swiftly by a well worked team try finished well by Nick Bell and converted by the youngest third of the Johnson trio. 29-15 at the 45-minute mark. Will Johnson was also in attendance but had to dash off mid-way through the second half as his sausage dog was getting a bit chilly.
Mike Watts breaks with trademark fluidity from a line out with Declan in support, a deftly weighted pass puts Declan in an open position and, with little resistance from the opposition, finds the line. Tom Johnson would appear to have fully compensated for the windy conditions by this point and is able to convert. 36-15.
This reporter will eventually run out of metaphors for Declan’s playing style. However, he took off like a bolting horse from ten metres out after receiving the ball from a kick return and gallops over the line in convincing fashion. TJ converts to put real daylight between the two teams. Nick Bell again finds himself on the scoresheet two minutes later after well worked multi-phase play from Horsham. Vince Everitt displayed unnatural strength in attack and was constantly a problem for the opposition’s tacklers. Converted, again, by TJ (there must be other ways of saying this, any suggestions welcome). 50-15.
Emmet “dozer” O’Rahilly makes an impact after a good period of possession by Horsham. A display of grit and strength from the dozer leaves the Aylesford tacklers wanting. The ball is thumped over the line for Horsham’s last try of the game. TJ converts, again, to add the extras. 57-15.
Aylesford’s heads do not drop and they are able to steal a try against lack-lustre Horsham defence at the death of the game to put the final score at 57-22.
Head coach Nick Stocker had dashed off to Clapham market, although this reporter could only speculate as to why. Luckily, head coach Nick Stocker was reachable via his Nokia 3310 enabling this reporter to get some thoughts on the game…
“3 for 10 pounds and I’m robbing meself blind, 3 for 10 pound. Blu-ray 2 for 10, can’t go any lower than that.”
“Head coach Nick Stocker? Can you hear me?”
“It’s Bad Boys 2 madam, excellent film if you hav – oh hello there, yes I can lad. You’ll be wanting some thoughts on the game I imagine. I will dictate them to you, please write down exactly what I say”.
“Despite scoring nine tries, we didn’t manage to play with much structure in both attack and defence which saw us get caught occasionally. In attack, our ball carriers and pace caused problems all afternoon with the back three in general and Declan Nwachukwu having a good day and helping himself to four tries. When we played with more discipline, the threat was obvious. However, conceding four tries was not ideal, although Aylesford worked very hard for these and deserved their additional point.
Our numerous changes in the pack and welcoming back both Mike Watts and Jake Lowe for their first games for nearly 12 months were positive signs with the important games ahead over the next month. With competition for places picking up, good performances from Kyle Fairs at hooker, Vince Everitt, Emmet O'Rahilly and Jack Osgood in the back row and Nick Bell at prop all maintain the required standards in the pack. In the backs, Declan was a real handful, Aaron Linfield a real threat and Joe Wilde and Tom Johnson gave direction. With several strong performances, Man of Match went to Sam Hampson, who after 4 months of no matches is now gaining his sharpness back. Setting up 2 tries, scoring 1 and carrying with real pace and threat all afternoon, he demonstrated this, and we look forward to more in the weeks ahead.
Next week we travel to Dover in another important match for our league aspirations.”