Horsham’s season is up and running after they edged out a hotly tipped Tonbridge Wells side on Saturday to record a first win of the new campaign.
It was a far from perfect display from an under strength Horsham, but a late Jonny Ordidge try was enough to hand them victory on their first home match of the year.
“It was a much better performance and the response I wanted, although still not a perfect performance by a long stretch of the imagination,” coach Nick Stocker said.
“We were playing a strong Tonbridge Wells side relegated from the league above who took Pulborough apart last week. So we knew we’d have to play at a much higher level, and although there were again a lot of mistakes the performance was a lot better.”
Among a number of enforced changes saw veteran Rob Clegg come in at seven, and Ordidge move from the centre to eight.
The hosts enjoyed the best of the opening 15 minutes, although Tonbridge Wells missed a very kickable penalty in front of the posts.
Mark Brandon showed the visitors how it’s done with a successful kick, but a poor defensive kick and a series of errors saw Tonbridge Wells score the first try of the game from a quickly tapped penalty.
It went unconverted and when good work from Jonny Whiting forced another penalty which Brandon again converted it gave Horsham a 6-5 lead at the break.
Tonbridge Wells had missed another kick in front of the posts before half-time, but after the break Horsham began to use their dominance in the scrum as a real weapon, the Horsham pack forcing their opposite numbers deep into their own 22, and after a number of infringements the umpire finally awarded the hosts a penalty try which Brandon slotted over for a 13-5 lead.
Both sides missed a couple of penalties before the Tonbridge kicked finally slotted one over, and with two minutes left the visitors thought they had snatched a point when their winger scored out wide to level things up at 13-13.
But straight from the kick off, excellent work from Sam Rice saw Horsham reclaim possession, and when it was shipped to Ordidge he threw a dummy to slip between two defenders and dived over for the winning score.
Stocker reserved special praise for youngster Joe Wilde, who came on at half time and gave an assured kicking display from the centre which settled the hosts down.