Horsham Babas 22 vs 12 Crawley Bulldogs
Today was the day for the home leg of our local Derby, with 3 home games and 3 full teams all was to play for and the Babas were well up for the challenge! We had a squad of 21, with strength and depth on the bench and were looking for a win to keep our undefeated campaign to track.
The conditions were biblical, with heavy rain we went out to warm up 30 minutes before starting in an attempt to avoid getting too wet before K.O.
Crawley won the toss and elected to play down hill in the 1st half in the hope of capitalising on the Roadside pitches slope, the initial exchanges were focused in the centre of the pitch with both teams keen to get the ball in hand. This was made very tricky by the rain and the ball was coughed up in contact by both teams in the opening 10 minutes. Lee Maguire was carrying well as captain for Horsham and the lads were beginning to put some phases together, debutant Tom Greet held on to some difficult balls proving worthy of his starting place.
Crawley were no shrinking violets and played their way in with some solid phase play making their way in to the Horsham half, despite this period of Crawley position Horsham scored 1st through a great Mike Drew run fed by Nick White and took the mental advantage going uphill. Matt Brown made the conversion in front of the posts to put Horsham 7-0.
Crawley rallied well and started to make headway with the downhill slope, a continued period of pressure resulted in a well worked try, converted making the score Horsham 7 Crawley 7. In the last 10 minutes Horsham began to feel the uphill slope and dropped off a little, allowing Crawley to score a soft try and to go in to half time 5 points ahead.
The 2nd half bought a raft of changes, with Rob Clegg, Michael Fisher and Neal Holden taking the pitch, Ewan Boyle and Guy Young had already entered the game in the back end of the 1st half. With fresh legs, the downhill advantage and a reshuffle in the backs Horsham began to put some phases together and play some rugby. 5 minutes played Horsham suffered a yellow card and were down to 14, at this point things could have come unstuck but the lads pulled together, after a number of pick and goes by Kev Whitlock and Ewan Boyle Ed Cresswell passed to Michael Fisher who dived for the line to even the score at 12 all.
Shortly after the score Horsham were back to 15 men and started to play simple pick and go phase rugby, recycling well and gaining yards. Horsham’s backs were looking to create space and exploit Crawley but the conditions were making this hard and a few balls didn’t quite go to hand. Undeterred the Babas spirit of positivity shone through and the game began to swing in Horsham’s favour with strong running from Neal Holden, the next 10 minutes saw Horsham keep the majority of possession while defending strongly when needed.
Horsham were on the front foot with ball in hand, the forwards were now offering a secure platform for Sam Lunn to feed the backs allowing Guy Young to break through and offload for Sergio Bebiano go over in the left-hand corner. A great finish bearing in mind the frustrating conditions, Horsham’s tails were up and ahead 17- 12.
Crawley came back from the kick off and were looking to get back in to the game, Horsham had different ideas with Gordon Sharp and Rob Clegg in particular putting in big hits and pressurising the Crawley ball.
In the final 5 minutes Horsham were camped out in the Crawley half and continued to pressure the visitors, Mike Drew throwing well and collecting his own ball in a pre-planned move made yards towards the line; phase after phase Horsham kept their discipline in the face of fierce Crawley counter rucking. This commitment and desire culminated in a final score as Matt Brown powered over from 5 yards in the corner for the final play of the game to make the score 22 -12.
Horsham deserved this result and worked hard for it in terrible conditions, the game was played in good spirits and Crawley presented themselves well and the Babas will need to be on their game in the return fixture.
This is the 3rd win in a row for the Babas and showed the spirit that the team is built upon, it was an honour to play in such a contest and I want to thank everyone involved with making this win possible!!
Special mention to Gordon Sharp and Rob Clegg for their 1st game in a few years, good to have you back gents!
1 Nick White, 2 Mike Drew, 3 Kev Whitlock, 4 Gordon Sharp, 5 Lee Maguire (C), 6 Jordan Crowe, 7 Ed Cresswell, 8 Ciaran Fitzgerald, 9 Sam Lunn, 10 Matt Brown, 11 Chris Marsh, 12 Dan Kelly, 13 Tom Greets, 14 Sergio Bebiano, 15 Simon Parker
Michael Fisher, Ewan Boyle, Rob Clegg, Guy Young, Paul Birch, Neal Holden
Alan Fisher - Many Thanks!