The last time these two sides met was in March 2013 at the Mote when Maidstone thrashed Horsham 95-12 on the way to becoming London 3 South East champions. The Kent club had an exceptional side at the time which secured back to back promotions into London 1 South and Intermediate Cup success at Twickenham.
Following Maidstone’s relegation last season, both clubs find themselves in London 2 South East not knowing what to expect in the lead up to this fixture, having not faced each other for six seasons, with the hosts looking to immediately bounce back into London 1 South and Horsham seeking to build on successive fifth and fourth place finishes.
With the exception of a scintillating try by Declan Nwachukwu, Maidstone dominated territory for first 30 minutes, but lacked the ability to breakdown a resilient Horsham defence and there was little sign of the rampage the visitors were about to commence.
Maidstone had some early pressure but Euan Caborn missed a kick at goal when Horsham were penalised at the breakdown which they were to soon regret when the ball was spun wide to Nwachukwu who rounded his man and accelerated away for a score in the corner after Michael Tredgett had run hard at the home defence. This was an isolated break-out as Maidstone continued to attack but were profligate in their finishing when Vince Everitt ripped the ball off his opponent over the try line to prevent a certain score.
The home side pegged Horsham back with a penalty from Caborn but it was a yellow card on the half hour mark for preventing a quick penalty that opened the flood-gates for the Green and Whites. Michael Tredgett scored with a back-row peel off a five-yard scrum supported by Jamie Redmayne. Maidstone came back with a penalty from Caborn but then the four try bonus point was secured with two tries in three minutes. Nwachukwu sliced through the home defence to run in from the half-way line. Johnson slotted a superb conversion from the touch-line and then Rich Tredgett finished off a flowing move in the opposite corner as Horsham went in to the half-time break with a 24-6 lead.
With the story of the first half being Horsham the more clinical of the two sides the pattern continued after the break when Johnny Ordidge intercepted a loose pass deep in Green and White territory, and with the supporting Everitt there was an inter-change of passes through a broken defence for Everitt to finish off the try under the posts.
Maidstone came back with a well-worked try by centre Ollie Newton in the corner, and then the result was secured with two tries in quick succession when the ball was spun wide after a dominant scrum for Jordan Bell to score in the corner. Nwachukwu then secured his hat-trick with a try in the corner following a length of the field handling move. Horsham led 43-11 after 60 minutes.
Maidstone came back with a try from Ryan Murphy and then Joe Blake in response scored his first try for the 1st XV on debut dummied his man to dart through under the posts.
There was still time for Maidstone to add some gloss to the score-line with a fine try by Newton in the final minute.
Assistant Coach Richard Bell said: “You have to be pleased with a bonus point win away from home from against a side in London 1 last season! I was even more pleased with the quality we showed across the pitch, clinical finishing, good shape and structure in both attack and defence and scoring 8 tries!
Five players making their debut Jamie Redmayne, Joe Reid, Ted Powell, Chris Double and 18 year old Joe Blake all made a big impact with Blake rounding of a very good performance at 10 with a try!
Our scrum was very powerful and line outs improved as the game went on. The backs looked very dangerous with Johnson and Ordidge giving power and experience in midfield for the speedsters to play off and Joe (Blake), Dec (Nwachukwu), Jord (Bell)and Chris showed great pace, footwork and finishing all fed by the excellent 9 Millsy (Josh Mills)!
In the pack the ball carrying skills and power of Rich Tredgett, Reid and Jonny Goward along with the outstanding back row of, impressive 18 year old Vince Everitt, Michael Tredgett and Redmayne!
We gave away too many penalties which we will address during the week and left 15 points out there today! I’m very pleased with today. It’s a great start and the end result of having 40+ training every Tuesday and Thursday for the last 8 weeks! We will look to improve every week but a fantastic start to the league campaign.”
Horsham continue their league campaign on Saturday at home to Beckenham.
Horsham: Bell J; Nwachukwu, Ordidge, Johnson, Double; Blake, Mills; Reid, Bell N, Powell; Goward, Tredgett R (capt); Redmayne, Everitt, Tredgett M