Horsham suffered another narrow reverse at home to Gillingham Anchorians, in a game in which they had the upper hand for much of the time, but were continually frustrated by refereeing interpretation at the breakdown.
The defeat dropped Horsham to sixth in the table with a game in hand on the league leaders, and they now have no margin for error if they want to be in the shake-up come the end of the season.
Indeed Coolhurst must be an accommodating ground for visiting teams because all three of Horsham’s league reverses have taken place at home. Horsham started the game at pace looking to erase the disappointment of successive league and cup defeats.
After two minutes a long kick from Matt Goodsir into the corner forced a five yard line-out which Jonny Ordidge stole and from the rolling maul Rob Grantham-Hill crossed the line for his sixth try of the season.
Anchorians replied with a wave of attacks but were kept at bay by strong Horsham tackling and then man of the match Aled Price’s jinking run was stopped just short of the line.
The Green and Whites enjoyed the majority of possession, but were frustrated by conceding a stream of penalties even though they were on the front foot, which allowed Gillingham each time to relieve the pressure.
“In a game of fine margins we are not getting the rub of the green,” frustrated coach Nick Stocker said.
On 26 minutes Anchorians stole possession and forced a turnover to level the scores, though on the stroke of half time Will Bell slotted over a penalty to give the hosts an 8-5 lead into the break.
The positive decision for Horsham to tap and go from a kickable penalty came to nothing, and Ryan O’Gorman was prevented from going clean through as Gillingham’s defence remained solid, and they then took the lead with their second try.
Both side’s kickers had an off day and Horsham failed to trouble the scoreboard in the second half as Gillingham celebrated a narrow 10-8 victory.
Stocker added: “We were strong at the scrum and our line-out worked well. I thought we offered the more potent threat and were better with our first phase play.
“Unfortunately it was a bad day at the office with our kicking and the referee showed a lack of consistency. Aled Price was my man of the match and I thought Adam Day and Iain Fisher also had good games.”
Horsham: Day, Grantham-Hill, Barber; Jonny Whiting, Grover; Smith (Carvell 60), Fisher, Ordidge; Bell, Goodsir; Gibbs, Price, James Whiting, O’Gorman (Palmer 65); Johnson.