Match Report by Tony Lewis
This year’s Sussex Colts cup final was held at Heathfield RFC and Horsham Colts travelled there in good spirits but knowing a stern test awaited against Hove RFC Colts. The Horsham coaching team had warned the players against any complacency and assured them that Hove had absolutely nothing to lose bearing in mind they were playing against the team who had already won the Sussex League and have reached the semi-finals of the National Under 18’s Cup. Hove would no doubt give it their all.
This certainly proved to be the case from the opening kick-off and for the first 25 minutes Hove were in the ascendants. They were ferocious in defence, strong at the breakdown and put Horsham under immense pressure. The good thing from Horsham’s point of view during this period was that Hove only managed a single score being an unconverted try to lead 5-0.
During the final 10 minutes of the first half Horsham started to get on top. The forwards were playing with more intensity and winning some better quality balls. This enabled scrum half Henry Grayson to give the rest of the backs better quality ball to work with. This Horsham pressure resulted in fly-half Joe Blake slotting a penalty and the half time score was Hove 5 – Horsham 3.
The talk at half time was how much Horsham wanted to win a League and Cup double. The last 10 minutes of the first half had shown the coaches that if Horsham could raise their game another 10% in the second half they could achieve dominance. It was clear from the start of the second half that Horsham had taken their coaches words to heart and they proceeded to totally dominate the next 35 minutes. Despite this it still proved extremely difficult to convert pressure into points. However, following a period of sustained pressure and drives from the forwards prop Eddie Grogan was able to go over in the corner. The try was not converted but Horsham now had an 8-5 lead.
The pattern of the second half continued in much the same way with Horsham camped inside Hove’s half. This resulted in a penalty some 35 meters out and due to a slight injury to fly-half Joe Blake the kicking duties were handed over to centre Marcus Condon. He nervously struck the kick and Horsham’s lead was up to 11-3. On a rare foray into the Horsham half Hove were awarded a penalty and the 3 points were duly taken by their kicker. This meant that despite continued pressure Horsham were only 5 points clear leading into the final 15 minutes of the game.
There then followed probably Horsham’s finest piece of play involving good hands from centre Alfie Burchfield who passed to prop Josh Earle who was loitering on the wing and had the strength to crash over. This gave Horsham a 10 point cushion which Hove never really looked to threaten. In the closing moments Hove conceded a further penalty under their posts and the three points were taken by Marcus Condon meaning the final score was 19-8 to Horsham.
This is the first League and Cup double ever achieved at Colts level by Horsham and the boys have every right to be extremely proud.
Head Coach Tony Lewis said after the game “We were certainly not at our best, particularly in the first half. While it is something of a cliché it is true that if a team can play well below 100% but still win there is a lot to be pleased about. The boys battled extremely hard and there was some very telling contributions from the bench particularly from Tyrick Gonzague and Ian Paku.
We will definitely need to raise our game next Sunday in the National Cup Semi Final at Maidenhead but we know that the boys are more than capable of doing this.”