Horsham emerged with the honours from a hard-fought local derby at home to newly promoted Pulborough.
The Green and Whites’ 31-8 win saw them top the league table on points difference from Folkestone, after inflicting Pulborough with their first league defeat for two seasons.
They played with a confidence borne by a habit of winning and should they repeat this level of intensity will have little difficulty in consolidating their position in London 3 South East.
Horsham started the quicker of the two sides. Scrum-half Ben Rush dummied to create a gap and made a great break but was tackled five yards short of the line, and then moments later Ben Pirt nearly scored from a charge down.
The home side were gaining the ascendancy in the scrums and following some pressure after ten minutes Tom Johnson slotted a penalty.
Pulborough responded following a poor kick and chase when Fraser Oliphant-Hope sliced through the home defence to create the position for a penalty to level the scores.
On 14 minutes, the Pulborough defence appeared to switch off following Tom Johnson’s long kick to let the ball roll out of play when Jamie Gibbs came speeding out of nowhere to dive on the ball for a hotly contested try which Johnson converted from the touchline.
Both sides missed penalty attempts at goal and then Michael Tredgett was yellow carded for over-zealous use of the boot when trying to force the release of the ball by a Pulborough player on the ground.
There was a lack of fluency in Horsham’s back play summed up when with half time beckoning Arun Thompson squandered a clear try scoring opportunity for Horsham when, rather than use the overlap, he put out a wide pass which was not held and the ball went out of play.
Horsham went into the break with a 10-3 lead which did not reflect their dominance of the game.
In the second half, Horsham tried to play enterprising rugby and twice were to forego straightforward penalty attempts at goal and instead kick for the corner with the intent to score tries but without success.
On 55 minutes, Gibbs made a great break out wide and then after several phases a direct run by captain Paul Talbot saw him score under the posts.
Pulborough responded with a controversial try from Dan Bullock which he appeared to have knocked on to narrow the deficit to 17-8.
Sean Tuhakaraina made a sprint up the left wing shrugging off tackles to gain ground.
And then, with time running out for Horsham to achieve a bonus-point win, and only four minutes remaining, Jonny Whiting broke through the middle with a 50-yard surge.
When the ball was recycled from a penalty move, he went over to score which Johnson converted from the touch line.
Two minutes later, Richard Tredgett broke from the back of the scrum and following an incisive break from Tuhakaraina and fine handling from Gibbs and Thompson, Nick Bell crossed the line for the fourth try to seal the bonus point win.
Horsham next week travel to newly-promoted Bromley-based side Park House, while Pulborough host Lewes.