Match Report by Tony Lewis
Horsham Colts travelled to Brighton RFC hoping to defend their unbeaten record in the Sussex Colts Premier League. The weather was perfect for rugby and both teams were lucky enough to be playing on the Brighton First Team pitch in front of the clubhouse.
It was clear from the outset that Brighton fully intended to be the first team this season in the league to claim the scalp of Horsham. They played with fire and intensity from the word go and the two teams were evenly matched. After a hard fought opening ten minutes Horsham managed to establish some territorial advantage and spent some time camped in the opposition 22. Following a few phases of play the ball was spun left and fly half Joe Blake threaded a perfect grubber kick through for wing Max Paterson to collect and cross the line. A tricky conversion was missed and Horsham had established a 5-0 lead.
Horsham continued to dominate in the first half but struggled to turn possession into points. Brighton tackled strongly and their forwards were most competitive at the breakdown. Following a short break in play and some strong words from the coaching team the Horsham forwards became more aggressive at the breakdown and were able to produce some quicker ball for the backs. This work at the breakdown was led by Sam Jewell, Vince Everitt and Max Elliott. Horsham’s second try did in fact come through a mistake by Brighton. A Brighton player dropped the ball on the 22 which was pounced upon by Horsham centre Alfie Burchfield. Having picked up the loose ball Alfie sped through a gap in the Brighton line and scored under the posts. The conversion from Joe Blake was successful and Horsham had established a 12-0 lead.
The rest of the half continued with the same pattern, with Horsham being dominant but unable to score. Right on half time one of Brighton’s centres was penalised for a high tackle on Max Patterson and was given a yellow card under the new high tackle laws in place this year. Skipper Ollie Lewis checked with the ref that there was enough time to kick for touch and from the resulting lineout Vince Everitt was able to power over. Again, Blake was successful with the conversion and at half time Horsham had established a 19-0 lead.
In the second half it is fair to say that Brighton came back very strongly. Their forwards started to dominate at the breakdown and Horsham became frustrated. The match was not helped by the fact that there seemed to be a penalty awarded to one side or the other every two minutes and it was difficult for either team to get into a decent flow. Horsham utilised their whole bench and significant contributions off the bench were made by Harrison Gould, Ben Murphy and Dale Connellan.
Towards the end Ollie Lewis made a fine break down the centre of the pitch and having carried the ball into the opposition 22, threw out a long pass to Dale on the wing. Dale took the ball 10 metres from a gaping Brighton try line but unfortunately overbalanced and fell over before reaching the line. He kept his wits about him however and did not release the ball and Horsham were able to recycle. The ball was passed left and after a few phases of play Tyrick Gonzaque, better known as Facebook, crashed over from 10 metres out. This was the bonus point try that Horsham were seeking and following another successful conversion the score was 26-0.
Brighton kept playing hard and got their just reward with the last move of the game by scoring an unconverted try. This meant that the final score was 26-5 to Horsham.
Whilst there were elements of play that need to be improved, such as work at the breakdown and some of the decision making, the Horsham coaches were very pleased with their team’s efforts. Brighton are a decent side and definitely upped their game against the league leaders, yet we still achieved a bonus point win. Head Coach Tony Jones commented “I could not be more pleased. The effort the boys put in was tremendous. I thought Sam Jewel had his best game to date and I was really pleased with the impact that all seven replacements made. In two weeks’ time we play Chichester in the league and they are currently second and only one point behind us. It really will be the crunch match of the season and we will be working very hard in training over the next two weeks.”
Next week Horsham travel to Maidenhead in the next round of the National Plate Cup Competition and the following week all roads lead to Coolhurst for the crunch league game against Chichester.