Revenge was both sweet and brutal for Horsham on Saturday as they ran in 14 tries to heap further pain on local rivals Pulborough to record their highest points tally since returning to London league rugby six years ago.
The comprehensive 84-5 defeat came in front of a large crowd of 200 at Coolhurst, and saw hosts Horsham avenge a 22-15 league defeat to their near neighbours on December 15, the last time Pulborough tasted victory.
The depleted visitors, who were already all but relegated before the match put in a spirited performance and never gave up, and scored a consolation try through Josh Haulkner in the final minute.
Despite the heavy victory Horsham coach Nick Stocker had mixed views about the performance. He said: “I am realistic that the players wanted payback for the defeat in December, but we must get away from the fixation of being up for local derbies and instead raise our game for playing the likes of Maidstone.
“At least four tries went begging and I think at times out handling was poor with passes too high or players having to check their run to take the pass which killed the flow.
“Our appetite was good and we dominated the scrum, line-out and breakdown areas. I think the front row were outstanding as a unit in both the tight and the loose but as a side we need to work harder and be more physical.”
Describing it as “one of the more complete team performances of the season” Stocker praised Paul Talbot for his excellent work-rate, and said referee David Sainsbury was excellent in allowing the game to flow.
Horsham were determined to make a fast start and should have scored in the first minute through Number 8 Jonathan Whiting.
Whiting made no mistake a minute later from a push over scrum to ground the ball himself as the Green and Whites asserted their power, in what was already starting to look like a long afternoon for Pulborough as captain Matt Brown converted.
After seven minutes Jamie Gibbs ran a great line to come off his blind side wing to score under the posts, and Brown against converted for a 14-0 lead.
Pulborough stemmed the tide for a while, and it needed a good clearance kick by Alex Brew to relieve the pressure.
No quarter was given in the forward exchanges as Talbot lead by example with his commitment in the contact area, although Horsham were forced into a substitution when hooker Rob Grantham-Hill went off injured, replaced by Giles Barber.
Horsham were dominating the scrummage exchanges and after 25 minutes Whiting scored another converted try under the posts. The Green and Whites were again disrupted following injury to flanker Matt Redmayne, Rob Clegg his replacement.
A Brew offload to man of the match Sam Bell saw him score his first try of the season with a scintillating break as he stepped past three defenders to glide in from 25 yards. Whiting then should have completed his hat-trick in another pushover scrum but Ryan Grover then added a further try after good work from the forwards.
Great inter-passing between Adam Day, Barber and Clegg lead to Day running in under the posts and then Aitken scored the seventh try of the half after excellent handling in the backs to put Horsham 41-0 up at half-time.
In the second-half kicking duties passed to Wilde as the previous four conversion attempts had been missed, and Horsham carried on in a similar ruthless vein. Aitken sliced through the defence to offload to Bell to score, and then Jonny Ordidge ran in under the posts unopposed.
Bell demonstrated his well-balanced running skills to beat a couple of defenders and offload to Whiting to crash through his man to pass on to Day in support to score under the posts.
Aitken delightfully delayed his pass for Bell to time his run through the gap to score and then a few minutes later Aitken added his second.
Ordidge then added his second try with an outside break to beat his man and run in from 30 yards and Bell completed the scoring with his fourth try with Wilde having slotted four conversions.
Horsham’s final fixture of the season is this Saturday (April 13) as they host Gillingham Anchorians at Coolhurst at 3pm.