Another resounding win for Horsham
Horsham are running into peak form at exactly the right time as they enter a series of games against the leading sides over the next month.
The 56-5 win away to Heathfield & Waldron, who were relegated to London 3 South East last season, was Horsham’s best performance of the year to date, scoring eight tries in the process.
In what is increasingly looking like a three horse race between Horsham, Bromley and Dartfordians at the top of the table, the Green and Whites host Bromley on Saturday in an eagerly awaited fixture and their biggest test of the season so far.
It promises to be an interesting contrast of styles, as Bromley put their unbeaten record on the line, with Horsham being the highest points scorers in the league and their opponents who have the tightest defence.
Horsham made their customary fast start. The Heathfield kick off did not go ten yards and with the referee playing advantage, Tom Johnson kicked through and although Heathfield countered to almost get round the Horsham defence, from the ensuing scrum Michael Tredgett made a good break from the back of the scrum which was carried on by Arun Thompson. When Heathfield were penalised for offside Will Bell slotted a penalty from in front of the posts to take the lead after 3 minutes.
There was no respite for Heathfield when on 7 minutes after a multi phase attack, Ben Rush passed to Paul Talbot who burst through several tackles to score. Will Bell converted as Horsham took a 10-0 lead.
Heathfield countered and Will Bell fielded a high ball under pressure to feed Jerry Downey who made good ground but a knock on brought the attack to a halt.
Horsham were attacking in waves and on 20 minutes the Green and White’s shoved back the opposition pack to enable Tredgett to score a simple try from 5 yards. From the kick–off, Sean Tuhakaraina made a break to pass to Johnny Ordidge in support on his left who brushed aside three tacklers to run in to score from 30 yards.
Experienced prop Giles Barber came off injured and was replaced by 18 year old Liam Brady making his first team debut who swiftly confirmed the high hopes placed in him for the future as Horsham’s scrum dominance continued. This strength in depth will create a real selection dilemma across the front row.
Heathfield never gave up and it required a clearance from Johnson, an outstanding tackle from Whiting and the reading of the game from Tuhakaraina playing as sweeper at times to repel the home attacks. It was whilst absorbing some Heathfield pressure that Johnson was yellow carded for going for the intercept with one hand, however Will Bell slotted smoothly into fly half and with Horsham playing with confidence they were not disrupted by being a player down and indeed won the period of the sin bin when Will Bell added another penalty to take Horsham into a 25-0 half time lead.
Horsham started the second half with the intent to rack up a big score. Turnover ball saw the ball spun wide through several sets of hands for Downey to put Ordidge away for his second try.
A great tackle by open side flanker Nick Bell snuffed out a Heathfield attack then he turned provider to send Johnson through for a try. Rush then made a break and when Johnson kicked on he followed up to nearly score. Moments later following great back play Matt Stone made no mistake to score after 53 minutes to take Horsham into a 42-0 lead.
Heathfield however kept going when other sides might have folded and their left winger Ollie Brown took advantage of a missed tackle to make a great outside break for Ken Hellier to score a consolation try, and shortly afterwards it required Tuhakaraina to tackle Number 8 Ollie Robertshaw to prevent a likely score, Ben Pirt to force a turnover and later a tackle by Whiting on outside centre Hellier who had broken the line to stop another try from the home side.
Horsham coach Nick Stocker had seen enough and brought Tredgett back on following an inter change to put the game out of reach for Heathfield. Thompson made a fine break for Tredgett to score his second try.
Jordan Smith then counter attacked from the kick off, and following another multi phase attack in the final minute Talbot scored his second try under the posts.
Stocker said “They could not cope with our power. The players understood the patterns we have been working on, went through the phases and played the game in opposition territory against a club who have been used to playing higher league rugby over the last few years.
It was difficult to maintain our intensity for the full 80 minutes and Heathfield, who are clearly in a rebuilding phase, forced us into a lull in the middle of the second half, however it was a great result and we beat them convincingly.
We had four or five first choice players on the sidelines who will be available for selection next week and picking the match squad will be quite difficult.
There were a lot of good individual performances. Paul Talbot was outstanding, set the tone for the win and was intensity personified. Nick Bell buzzed around, chopping people down and linking play. Arun Thompson impressed, came back from university expecting to play centre and is now playing back row securing excellent line out ball, linking play and securing turnovers.
Michael Tredgett had another good performance and played really well. He does a lot of the dirty work and when he breaks it takes 3 or 4 players to bring him down. Sean Tuhakaraina had a great game. Will Bell offered control at the back and kicked well.
There were a number of good performances across the pack but my man of the match goes to Liam Brady. He is only 18 making his debut and played for 50 minutes against a prop who until recently had been playing semi professional rugby at Maidstone and dominated him. He also showed his ability around the park and made a number of big hits. Liam is starting to master the dark arts of the front row and I see him as a modern prop with old school bulk.
My only disappointment is that we could not stop them from scoring.
I thought the referee was excellent. He controlled the game well and allowed it to flow. It was nice to see the referee reward dominance in the scrum.
In summary I am very happy with the way we played. We have clearly embedded our structures, exerted our power, used the phases well scoring eight tries against a good mid table team.”
Horsham’s next league game is at home to Bromley on 1st November.
Horsham: Talbot (capt), Stone, Barber (Brady 26); Grover, Jonny Whiting; Thompson, N Bell, Tredgett (Pirt 40); Rush, Johnson; Downey (Smith 60), Tuhakaraina, Ordidge, Taylor; W Bell