Horsham are the early season pacesetters in London 3 South East after a hard fought 46-28 victory away to Bromley.
The Green and Whites started at a barn-storming pace with five tries in the first half, but were pegged back by a Bromley revival after the break leading to a pulsating finish.
Horsham head coach Nick Stocker joked: “This afternoon has certainly added a few grey hairs to the three coaches! I thought our first half performance was exceptional. We chased well, shut down their options, pressed them into making mistakes and strangled the life out of them. We then showed clinical handling when we had the opportunity and had good control of the game.
“At half time we discussed what we need to do to stop conceding penalties at the contact area and defend their driving maul but we lost shape, they had the momentum playing with their tails up and it was only in the 70th minute that we woke up and ran some phases.”
Horsham made their intentions clear from the outset to run the ball whenever there was an opportunity. Will Johnson got the visitors off the mark when he gathered a loose ball to outstrip the defence and run in from 35 yards, the try converted by Aled Price.
Horsham were wreaking havoc with the Bromley scrum, though the hosts responded and although Price made a try-saving tackle, from the attacking position Bromley fired up a rolling mail for Dave Banfield to score.
Horsham then turned the screw with suffocating pressure in midfield and Matt Brown charged down a clearance to score, and after Price had slotted over a penalty he then raced down the right touchline to score himself.
Despite the Horsham pack driving their opponents back at every scrum this was not being converted in clean ball, though stifling pressure by the centres caused a Bromley mistake from which Jonny Ordidge ran in unopposed.
Bromley came back with a penalty, though Horsham were playing all the rugby and after James Whiting came close to scoring, Sam Bell took a quick tap penalty to cross the line from five yards out on the stroke of half-time to give them a big 36-8 lead.
Bromley though were resurgent in the second half, and using their powerful rolling maul to good effect following a catch and drive from the line-out Banfield scored almost immediately.
The hosts continued to apply the pressure as Horsham failed to clear their lines and Matt Stone was yellow carded as the penalties mounted up. The pendulum was swinging in Bromley’s favour and they slotted another three points before Banfield crossed for his hat-trick in familiar circumstances.
A Price penalty calmed Horsham nerves, though Bromley winger James Powell scored to close the gap to 39-28, before man of the match Bell sealed the Horsham win with a darting run off the back of a long line-out.
Horsham: Talbot, Stone, Barber; Grover, Jonathan Whiting; N Bell (Fisher 65), Smith, Pirt (Taylor 65); S Bell, Price; Taylor, Brown, Ordidge, James Whiting; Johnson (W Bell 60)