Horsham produce stunning final three minutes to win

Horsham's Tom Johnson put in a near-flawless kicking display. Picture by Steve Robards
Horsham's Tom Johnson put in a near-flawless kicking display. Picture by Steve Robards

Horsham made their first ever trip to play Thurrock and came away with a remarkable 38-34 away win in the final play of the game.

Horsham head coach Nick Stocker said: “A five point win stolen from the jaws of defeat with the last play made for a fantastic outcome.

“However, we were far from fluent today making too many errors both in terms of basic skills and in terms of discipline which allowed Thurrock to build field position and pressure at the right times.

“When we did look after the ball we looked far more dangerous creating some great tries including an 80 metre effort to open the scoring as well as the obvious highlight in the last play.

“Whilst we are pleased to get the win, we know we are much better than today which given this was a tough place to visit puts the result in to perspective.”

Horsham made a blistering start. Thurrock failed to find touch with a penalty and the ball was fielded over his head by Declan Nwachukwu who initiated a great counter attack which saw the ball spun wide for Mike Watts to put Josh Sudder away for an 80 metre opening try in the opposite corner of the field which was well converted from the Tom Johnson.

The kicking was to become one of the differences between the sides as Johnson did not miss a kick all afternoon until his final strike of the match by which time the win had been secured.

Thurrock quickly responded with a try from centre Phil Ellis converted by Stanley after Horsham had conceded too many penalties to grant field position.

Watts left the field with a knee injury to be replaced by Christian Squire as Horsham were forced to make an early substitution.

The hosts then took a 12-7 lead in a game which see-sawed from a first phase scrum when the ball was spun wide to winger Lewis Cross to score after some missed tackles on the inside which was unconverted. Johnson pegged back the lead with a penalty awarded on the ten metre line after a Thurrock player was found to be playing the ball on the ground in the contact area.

Horsham then retook the lead following some great play which saw a good front peel from Jack Osgood who finished well to score. The extras were added by Johnson.

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The visitors advantage was extended by another long-range kick by Johnson from the ten metre line when Thurrock were penalised for offside at the breakdown. 12-20.

Stanley slotted a penalty and Horsham had to absorb a further period of pressure into the half time break and go in leading 15-20 as Vince Everitt was yellow carded for not rolling away.

Horsham battled hard whilst being a man down and won the yellow card period when Johnson kicked a penalty awarded for offside in open play.

Thurrock responded with a try from Tom Pool converted by Stanley to narrow the deficit to 22-23. Horsham then conceded a penalty at the breakdown for not releasing but the kick was missed.

Thurrock then regained the lead when Joss Nunn scored from a turnover kick and the ball was moved wide which was well finished and converted by Stanley.

Johnson clawed back the deficit with a long range penalty kick following a turnover secured by Everitt, but then on 70 minutes Nunn added his second try to take what appeared to be a winning lead of 34-26 into the final ten minutes.

After poor execution in the Thurrock red zone and a series of Horsham errors saw field position lost and the Green and Whites were duly punished.

With three minutes remaining Horsham were eight points behind before Ciaran Preston scored from a front peel which was well converted from the touchline by Johnson, 34-33.

Then on the final play of the game Declan Nwachukwu made a stunning 70 metre break, and when he was stopped great support play saw the ruck cleared and the ball moved open via Jordan Bell, Johnson and Finn Hillicks for Jamie Redmayne to score, win the game and secure the bonus point win.

Horsham host Camberley next week.