Horsham opened their league campaign with a comfortable 43-8 win at home to newly promoted Burgess Hill, writes Richard Ordidge.
In front of a large crowd of 130, the Green and Whites sought to carry on the momentum gained from a successful series of friendlies in what is the most anticipated and optimistic season for the club in nearly 20 years.
Head coach Nick Stocker was delighted with the result but was quick to identify areas for improvement. He said: “We will have to be more clinical in the tougher matches to come because we made eleven line breaks and scored only six tries.
“We gave away too may penalties, which was the only way they got into the game. We created a lot of opportunities which we need to finish.”
The pattern of the game was established from the outset when the Burgess Hill kick-off failed to go ten yards and from the ensuing scrum Horsham exerted their forward power but the opportunity was squandered by a knock on in the three quarters.
It was a battle royal at the back of the scrum with Sam Bell and his opposite number snapping at each other’s heels all afternoon. Bell won the first encounter and pounced first on a loose ball to make a break and create the attacking position from where good work by Ben Pirt lead to a penalty try after five minutes which was converted by Price. Burgess Hill then pegged Horsham back with a penalty given for not rolling away at the break down but this relief was short-lived.
Johnson made a great break and perhaps could have gone on to score himself but his pass to Joe Wilde was forward.
Horsham were more clinical with their next attack when a quick tap penalty by Sam Bell followed by good handling from the three quarters lead to Wilde crossing the line to score.
This was shortly followed by a charge down from Nick Bell and the ball was spun wide to Matt Brown to score.
Jonny Ordidge then showed variety to his game with a diagonal grubber kick to the corner in the absence of any other options but chances continued to go begging and the score remained unchanged until half-time at 19-3.
Immediately from the restart Johnson stepped inside his man to score under the posts following good work by Jonathan Whiting and fluent handling along the line, but Burgess Hill showed they still had stomach for the fight with a good try by their left winger.
Fresh legs off the bench helped when Rob Grantham–Hill scored and perhaps the try of the game then followed, and was made in the Bell household, when Will Bell who had also just come off the bench made a scintillating break through the middle and then offloaded to his brother Sam in close support, who skipped several tackles to run in under the posts.
Johnson, whose virtuoso display was keeping the defence occupied on his own made a long clearance kick and his searing pace in the follow up almost created a score out of nothing but the ball was knocked on.
James Whiting also made his mark coming off the bench to score and complete the victory and almost doubled his tally moments later in the final minute with a powerful charge through the middle.
Coach Stocker named Will Johnson his man of the match while also praising Jonathan Whiting and Aled Price. Stocker added: “I am delighted with the team spirit and there is a good balance in the team between forwards and backs however there is still a lot to do.”
Horsham’s next league game is away to Bromley on Saturday September 21.
Horsham: Talbot, Stone (Grantham-Hill 60), Barber; Grover, Jonathan Whiting; N Bell, Smith, Pirt; S Bell, Price; Taylor, Brown, Ordidge (W Bell 50), Wilde (James Whiting 60); Johnson.