A ‘CONTROLLED’ Horsham made it four wins on the spin with a 22-3 win at Sheppey on Saturday.
It was a professional performance from the visiting Green and Whites and tries from Jamie Gibbs and Matt Brown in the first half and Dan Bourne and Rob Grantham-Hill after the break saw them ease to a bonus point victory.
Coach Nick Stocker said: “It was a very good result and a controlled performance. A lot of people have said it was our best performance of the season because of the way we nullified their strong pack so well.
“They are a well balanced side who know what they want to achieve but we seemed to be in total control throughout. We dominated the scrums and that allowed our backs to use their handling ability to do the damage.”
It was a great start for Horsham, who managed to turn over a strong Sheppey attack from the first whistle and move the ball left and then right before Jamie Gibbs dotted over in the corner for an unconverted try.
From there Horsham pushed their hosts hard, pinning them back onto their own 22m for most of the first half. Mike Penfold, stepping up from the Lions to fill the big boots of top scorer Neil Holden at loosehead prop was a big factor in Horsham’s dominance scrum, allowing the pacy backs to continue to ask questions of the Sheppey defence.
“Mike put in a man of the match performance on Saturday,” Stocker beamed. “He was excellent in the scrum, helping to send the Sheppey pack driving back and giving us a platform to launch our attacks.”
It was from their domination in the scrum that Horsham created their second try on 29 minutes. From a tapped penalty Rob Hoskins was impeded, an infringement which saw the Sheppey player sin binned, and from the scrum it was played to Matt Brown, playing at ten, who threw a dummy before darting in under the posts. Brown then converted his own try to give Horsham a 12-0 half-time lead.
With the wind now against them for the second half, the Horsham coaches spoke about not giving Sheppey a sniff after the break, but the hosts got just that with a penalty straight from the restart which was kicked through the posts.
Horsham then had Joe Clarke sin binned themselves, but straight away from a penalty on their own 22m line, Rob Hoskins saw the chance to tap and go, and after breaking the line he ran hard, drawing the covering defender before offloading to Bourne in support who ran the final ten metres to the line.
Some excellent defending from the visitors withstood some heavy Sheppey pressure despite being a man down and another charge from deep in their own half, this time from James Whiting, saw some of Horsham’s trademark quick ball through the backs before front row Grantham-Hill to score the bonus point try.
Horsham will be hoping to extend their winning run to five away at Bromley this Saturday, before they face a trio of tough fixtures which Stocker believes could define their season. He said: “Firstly we have to beat Bromley, and without looking too far beyond that we then play the top three teams in succession, Crowborough, Medway and Folkestone. If we play with the same confidence there’s no reason why we can’t spring a shock or two.”