Horsham eventually won a highly-competitive contest against Heathfield & Waldron which was both a London South East 3 League game and a semi-final in the Bob Rogers Sussex Cup.
The 16-8 victory means the Green and Whites now go on to face either Crowborough or Haywards Heath in the final on May 9, and keep alive the possibility of a league and cup double for the first time in the club’s history.
The victory maintained Horsham’s 19-point lead over third placed Bromley and two more wins from the final six games will ensure promotion.
This was the first of a tricky set of fixtures to be navigated for Horsham where they face a succession of sides in the top half of the table, and Heathfield & Waldron, who were on an eight-match unbeaten run stretching back to November.
When the sides met at Cross in Hand in October, Horsham inflicted a crushing defeat on their opponents but it was a far more sturdy Heathfield & Waldron outfit they faced this time playing with a confidence borne from their long sequence of wins.
The visitors soon had the hosts under pressure and Ken Hellier missed an early penalty attempt at goal, but Heathfield & Waldron kept coming, and after nine minutes, they moved the ball wide for Ollie Brown to score a well-deserved try.
Straight from the restart Arun Thompson made a great break deep into the Heathfield & Waldron half, but the support could not get to him quickly enough. Horsham were making a series of uncharacteristic errors and were finding it difficult to put their normal patterns of play together, with the game being predominantly played in their half, and on 34 minutes Hellier slotted a penalty to extend the visitors’ lead to 8-0.
After some great continuity, Horsham’s Tom Johnson rounded off a flowing move with a fine try under the posts which was unconverted.
There continued to be a lack of precision, unforced errors and too many mistakes in Horsham’s play and the hosts went into the break 8-5 down.
The half-time team talk from Horsham coach Nick Stocker focused on attaining greater control and looking after the ball and in the second half the hosts started to ramp up the pressure.
Johnson missed a kick at goal, but the balance of the game swung in Horsham’s favour. On 49 minutes following a powerful scrum, Josh Mills scored an unconverted try following a great break from Matt Stone, to take the Green and Whites into a 10-8 lead for the first time in the game.
The visitors came close to scoring but were penalised for holding on in an isolated attack, but in the second half the penalty count was in Horsham’s favour as Heathfield & Waldron regularly infringed, and Johnson, who had been having an off day with his kicking so far, notched two vital penalties to secure the win.
Reaction in this week’s paper.