It's tribute to the emerging character and belief in the Barbarians and Club that we had three strong looking squads by Wednesday and that on a week when the 1st team had a top of the league encounter, the Lions had the away game against a team that comprehensively beat them at home and the Barbarians had their forth away game in succession against the runaway league leaders who'd put 71 unanswered points on them just two months previously. Whether it was the recent performances buoyed by the impromptu Wabi team building session or January lack of cash keeping the better halves out of the shops giving the lads leave we felt whatever happened we were in a much better place to make a battle of it.
The team arrived in plenty of time for a decent warm up, with the conditions good and the winter sun slung low over the glider club. we won the toss and elected to go down the hill in the first half. Horsham received and a high kick was fielded to plan and the game was on. Pulborough had the edge in the early phases but Horsham were starting to wake up, energized by some steely determined fringe defence the forward runners who'd maybe felt today would be one for them were repeatedly repulsed with interest. A try was conceded by Horsham following a quick tapped penalty. This was Borough's last foray into Horsham's 22 in that half as either the journey left the legs or the self belief continued to rise. Ascendancy was being gained in the scrum and it was Horsham forwards turn to start making the gain line. A series of phases saw the 3/4's break down the blind side, orchestrated by the blend of young and old but with the try line begging requiring only a simple pass to make the score the ball went to ground. Unperturbed another opportunity soon arose. Otto Carlisle playing his first game in many years showcased the famous welsh strength and speed to hold off several defenders before offloading. This created the overlap but sadly the try was disallowed for a forward pass. The next chance was a forward opportunity, some bowling up the middle with forward interchanging saw Gordon Sharp with a glimpse of the line but the try was saved by a last ditch tackle. When the try eventually came it was from the edge that the pack had gained in the scrum. A Pulborough defensive scrum pushed hard forced the perennial scrum half into a hurried box kick. This was charged down and Bryn Griffiths pounced for the second week in succession.
The half time whistle went and the score was 5-5 and with the hill to play it was going to be big ask. The break had come at the wrong time and Horsham couldn't seem to get back into their stride, things seemed to be compounded by decisions seemingly through the Captains desperate eyes not to be going their way.
Being a Horsham match report I am going to gloss over the second half. The scoreline will show Pulborough comprehensively won it. I would put forward the scoreline was helped a little missed incidents which I'm sure we also benefit from over the season and perhaps the effort that the team had put in to get that far had started to show. I whole heartedly believe the scoreline didn't reflect the match and the game ended with another season high for me. Sitting well in their own half with the Referee (Quinten Wilson anyone?) indicating this was the final play, I'm sure 99% of 3rd teams would have put the ball out to get to the bar. This lot of fools? Think again! A rumble up the pitch supported and chased up by everyone which saw more phases put together than many first team I've ever played for. It went between forwards and backs and just when it looked like we'd run out of gas our other Colt of the day came steaming through at pace to dive over the line. This was another highlight in a series of brilliant weeks and one of the best feel good trys of the season. If any of you ever meet my Mum, she'd tell you I always had to have the last word and at that point I couldn't have given a flying duck we'd lost.
If you've ever been to Pulborough, aside from telling you what a hospitable good bunch of lads they are they might mention how much they like it up the Hill. On Saturday Horsham matched their score up the hill despite being separated in the league by 50pts.
Gordon Sharp was our MOTM, closely followed by Kev Whitlock. Stirling work considering they've probably got 100 years between them (only looks like 60 lads!). A great return to the paddock for Ed Jowett - please don't stay away so long, and thanks to the two Colts who had to put up with our old man gurning and huffing around in return for a few beers. Get well soon Ben Trout and Bryn Griffith (plus anyone else I don't know about).
A break this coming week because we rolled around in the Hove swamp a couple of weeks ago. Top work, please come back for the last epic game in this incredible series of 5 away games in a row on the 31st at the Norfolk Arms. Get the date in the diary and bring a friend.