Horsham returned to winning ways against Dulwich-based Old Alleynians, and if they win their game in hand against Crowborough on January 2 will climb to third in the table.
In the first known meeting between the two clubs on Saturday, Declan Nwachukwu stole the show with four tries added to by scores from Josh Mills and Mike Watts in their 38-25.
Horsham head coach Nick Stocker said: “We have always known that Declan has raw finishing power but I was particularly pleased that five of our six tries came from our back three.
“Declan will take the headlines for his four tries but my man of the match goes to Will Bell, for setting up one of Declan’s tries, upon his return to the back three, and for his all round attacking play and defensive work.
“Having scored four tries by the break, I was disappointed that our performance levels dropped off in the second half and we took our foot off the gas. It was however important to get back to winning ways.”
With good possession from first phase scrum ball, Matt McCabe engineered a miss move in the centres to send Will Bell through the opposition defence only to be hauled down just short of the tryline.
When the ball was recycled Mills showed quick thinking to dive over the prostrate bodies to score from two yards.
When Horsham were penalised for not rolling away at the breakdown, Fred Parker calmly slotted the kick for Old Alleynians.
On 27 minutes, after Old Alleynians had kicked upfield deep into Horsham’s half, Bell and Mills combined to find Nwachukwu who ran 70 yards to score a superb solo counter attack try, which was converted by Bell.
Bell then put the pace on the attack and with one man to beat he passed to the supporting Nwachukwu to score his second try under the posts.
With time running out to take the conversion once it was realised that Bell had been winded in the tackle, McCabe stepped up to take the points.
Parker narrowed the deficit to 19-6, while the Green and Whites scored their fourth and bonus-point try on the stroke of half-time as Watts eased past a couple of defenders to score. The try was converted by Bell for a 26-6 lead at the break.
Old Alleynians almost scored a try when they outflanked the defence, requiring Johnson and Nwachukwu to tackle the attacking player into the corner flag, but Tom Unwin made no mistake moments later from a run from the side of a ruck.
Aled Price made a great tackle when Old Alleynians looked likely to score but from the next phase with the Horsham defence stretched, the ball was passed wide for prop Hiren Sharma to cross the line for an easy score.
Old Alleynians had narrowed the deficit to 26-18 after 60 minutes, but Nwachukwu, completed his hat-trick by running in to score from inside his own half.
Michael Tredgett was yellow carded after an aggressive tackle and Horsham were obliged to play out the game with 14 men.
Old Alleynians’ Ali Henderson scored unchallenged, and after the conversion by Parker the lead had narrowed to 31-25 with four minutes remaining.
Horsham then sealed the win when McCabe fired out a long pass to Nwachukwu to put some gloss on proceedings to cross for his fourth try.
Horsham: Bell, Watts, Ordidge (A.Price), Johnson, Nwachukwu, McCabe, Mills, Barber, Grantham-Hill, Brady, Harcus, Whiting, S.Price, Thompson (Smith), Tredgett (Gaynor).
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