LONDON 2 SOUTH EAST
Saturday 9th March 2019
Dover 21-69 Horsham
Report by Richard Ordidge
With Horsham being the only side in the top three to win on Saturday the Green and Whites increased their chances of achieving a play-off place for promotion with a comfortable 21-69 win away at Dover, making it seven consecutive league wins. Whilst Beckenham’s march to the title has slowed in recent weeks they are still overwhelming favourites to win the league despite their defeat at Haywards Heath, however the surprise was Charlton Park losing at Deal & Betteshanger.
The long trip to the East Kent club is always a tough proposition however the London club’s clawing back of two bonus points in the final minutes of the game was significant because it means Horsham’s margin for error has reduced and they still potentially have to win the remaining three games of the season, against Haywards Heath, Old Colfeians and Maidstone, all of which are difficult encounters, to secure second place.
Horsham have not won at Dover before, with the Kent side having historically played in higher leagues, and the Green and Whites throwing away a winning position in the closing stages of the game last season. With both teams missing several of their regular starting line-up due to injury and unavailability there was an air of anticipation at The Crabble with supporters having little idea what to expect.
The fears of the visiting supporters were soon allayed with an explosive start seeing five tries scored in the first 16 minutes without reply, three of which were converted by Joe Wilde. The kick off was secured and after several phases left and right, Kyle Fairs hit a line on the burst to score in the first minute. Pressure play then saw the ball retained and eventually spun to Sam Hampson to finish strongly for his first try. With Horsham attacking in waves, a fine break by Mike Watts saw the ball recycled and an eventual pick and go by both props was finished by Fairs burrowing in over for his second try. A good attack from the kick off and excellent distribution from Jordan Bell saw Watts break and put Mathieu Pecharman away to score, then a length of the field try was completed by Pecharman outstripping the defence from 40 metes out after a good carry and offload by Emmet O’Rahilly.
After a period of pressure from Dover where the Horsham defence held firm, a penalty was awarded and O’Rahilly quickly tapped to score under the posts and then Vince Everitt crossed the line with a strong carry after a quick tap by Aaron Linfield. With seven first half tries, five of which were converted by Wilde, Horsham went into the half-time break leading 45-0 with the result effectively secured.
It was difficult in the second half for Horsham to play with the same intensity as the game became more loose and less disciplined, but the Green and Whites still scored four further tries whilst a spirited Dover team never gave up and scored three good tries of their own.
Strong multi-phase play saw Hampson run in following a good line by Jonny Whiting, then a fine multiple phase attack from a kick return by Watts saw an eventual finish by Whiting. Jamie Redmayne scored following several attack phases with great support and the scoring was completed when Jack Osgood powered through from 30 metres out following Dan Cass securing turnover ball.
Horsham head coach Nick Stocker reflected after the game: “We started brightly and killed the game off in the first quarter which meant the challenge to the team was to maintain focus and try to play our patterns. On the whole this was achieved although as expected, we did occasionally become loose given the score line.
The pace in the team caused problems all day and with the support runners readily available, we managed to keep the ball alive when in attack leading to some excellent team tries.
The players that stepped up in the absence of regular first team starters all did extremely well. Josh Earle, fresh from his Sussex Under 20 exploits had an excellent game at tight head whilst his county team mate, Luke Powell had a strong impact from the bench on his debut. Emmet O’Rahilly and Vince Everitt were a real handful on both sides of the ball with turnovers and strong carries throughout. With positional changes in the back line, Jordan Bell controlled superbly at 10 and Joe Wilde and Marcus Condon in the centres created space for our very dangerous back three.
However, despite several good performances from players like Nick Bell, skipper for the day Jamie Redmayne and Adam Clarkson, man of the match went to converted hooker, Kyle Fairs who hit his lineouts well, carried strongly and helped himself to two great tries to cap off a fine performance.
With another week off next weekend, we head into the final 3 matches of the season with a tough home match against Sussex rivals Hayward’s Heath in a league and cup doubleheader on 23rd March. All support welcome for what will undoubtedly be a great game.”
Horsham: Watts; Pecharman, Wilde, Condon, Hampson; Bell J, Linfield; Bell N (Cass), Fairs, Earle; Clarkson, Osgood; Redmayne (capt), Everitt (Whiting), O’Rahilly (Powell)