Horsham Lions sealed the Sussex 2 West league title with a last-gasp victory away at Bognor on Saturday.
Having already secured promotion the week before, the visitors left it until the last play of the final game to regain the lead, with a powerful run from outside centre Jonny Ordidge.
He burst through the middle from 35 yards to crash through several attempted tackles and score the try which crowned a glorious season for Horsham’s second team.
It was a pulsating match where the lead changed hands several times, in balmy, sunny conditions totally unlike those faced in recent months, with both sides attempting to place width on the ball.
Horsham applied the early pressure without troubling the scoreboard. Then on 14 minutes a strong Ordidge break created the position for him to break the deadlock shortly afterwards and storm in from 25 yards.
The returning Matt Goodsir mixed up his game well from fly-half, regathering his own clever chip which almost lead to a further score.
Jake Gates made a fine try-saving tackle but then Bognor responded with two converted tries to swing the game in their favour. On the stroke of half time Alex Ickringnell forced a Bognor error, and he then ran onto his own hack forward to score to leave Horsham trailing 14-10 at half time.
An excellent start to the second half saw Swann score a simple try from a Josh Chalk chip. A feature of Horsham’s play was the powerful tackling and combative rugby of the back row of Tom Gilbert, Jordan Smith and Fisher but Bognor showed the class of their running, handling and support play with two tries from wide positions to take a 24-15 lead.
Horsham still had the stomach for the fight and Gates outstriped the covering defence on the left wing to score under the posts. The conversion was missed, in part due to the lack of a kicking tee, and it left Horsham needing at least a try to win the game.
In the final minutes Fisher and Harman ran penalties to batter down the Bognor defence and with the last throw of the dice Ordidge broke though to turn the match in Horsham’s favour.
Horsham: Jones, Fisher, Freeman; Fitzgerald (Swann 40), C Harman; Gilbert, Smith, A Harman; Chalk, Goodsir; Ickringnell, Henderson, Ordidge, McHale (Hoskins 65); Gates.