With the rugby season coming to a close the Lions had a chance to secure third place and the potential of promotion depending upon whether Midhurst accepted the opportunity in second place to go up. This challenge was bigger due to the recent poor form of the Lions. In contrast Shoreham were heading into the match having only losing one game in eight. Both sides were heading into the match with a chance of promotion, equal on points with Horsham only ahead of Shoreham on points difference.
Shoreham took control of the game early with a penalty goal and a try from their pacey fullback to lead 8-0. After the try the Lions were revitalised with a number of strongly worded sentences being said. Straight from the restart Horsham regained possession and following a number of powerful drives around the rucks by the forwards, and a good show of hands by the team, Joey Walker crashed over for the try. With this score the Shoreham came fighting back with a sweeping attack which saw their left wing go in for the score in the corner.
After this score Horsham took control of the game with a great show of control by going steadily through the phases and also through big line breaks from centre, Dan Crook and number eight Joe Emson. These lead to the Lions second try of the game with prop and captain Mike Penfold scoring in the corner after impressive work by the forwards. The score at half time was 13-10 to Shoreham but this does not show the dominate display by Horsham.
From the beginning of the second half Horsham were hell bent on getting in front on the scoreboard and also to deny Shoreham any chances of scoring with the Lions defence being especially aggressive with Nick Bell, returning from injury being a massive factor in the defence. The Lions third try came from Joey Walker with another pick and drive from the base of a ruck and a powerful leg drive to crash his way over for his second score of the game, James Layzell converted the try from out wide on an indifferent day with the boot. The final score of the game came from massive breaks from Bell and Layzell, with the final phase of the attack being another show of the more accurate passing by the Horsham players with Penfold putting winger Jerry Downey in for the fourth and final try of the game.
Team Manager Andy Layzell, said ‘this game was an impressive display by a strong Lions team against a determined Shoreham and our tight five put in a massive shift against a dominant scrum. Our aggression at the breakdown was some of the best this season and caused Shoreham problems that allowed us to go through the phases and patterns to get the ball wide where we had dominance and scored our tries. There were a number of players who stood out. Mike Penfold as captain, Dan Cass and Joey Emson who were devastating at the breakdown, Dan Crook in attack and defence and James Layzell who moved from 15 to 10 and injected pace into the game, but my man of the match was shared by Joey Walker and Nick Bell who were key to securing this critical win.
This season has been a mixed bag by the Lions who put in some outstanding performances, with a number of players making the move to the first team. Finishing third in our league is a fair reflection of our season and is a good strong position to set us up to target winning the league next season.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank all players who have played for the Lions this season’.