Green and Whites delight at fourth consecutive Bob Rogers Cup crown
Horsham lifted the Bob Rogers Cup for the fourth year in succession with a comprehensive win against a weakened Hove side in the final at East Grinstead on Saturday.
The competition is played for by Sussex clubs below National League level.
The two sides had met twice in the league already this season with a win apiece and a victory margin in both games of less than seven points.
Respective final league placings of sixth and seventh, with Hove pipping Horsham in their last game, had increased the expectation of another close game and a further chapter in the story of their ongoing local rivalry.
With Ryan Morlen, Carles Galindo, Ian Saunders and Robin Ward involved in the County Championship final at Twickenham, and Sam Whiting unavailable, Horsham knew that they would be facing an unknown quantity.
Both sides were rusty with the league campaign having finished a remarkable seven weeks earlier.
It was Hove who took an early lead after three minutes with a penalty from scrum-half Rob Biggs following a high tackle in what was to be their only score of the match.
Horsham responded when Rich Tredgett stole the ball at the line-out, spun wide for Jordan Bell and he released Canice Gonzague, who did well to hold a high pass for a try which was converted by Tom Johnson.
Horsham then made no mistake when awarded a five metre scrum. Jonny Whiting picked up from the base but was tackled, Josh Steggles broke again at close quarters and was stopped, but Whiting was in position to drive, supported by Tredgett and their combined strength saw them bulldoze across the line.
Then on 21 minutes, Jordan Bell saw the onrushing defence, kicked to the corner flag and Gonzague used his pace to win the race to touch down for a 19-3 lead.
On 38 minutes the Green and Whites scored a try out wide following multiple-phase play which was finished by Gonzague for a first half hat-trick. It was converted by Johnson and Horsham took a 26-3 lead into the break.
Horsham started the second half with intent and after winning a scrum and several phases of scrappy play, Liam Brady, who replaced the injured Giles Barber at the break, ran a hard line to score.
Jordan Bell again put in a kick over for Palmer to win the race for the touchdown in the corner which was converted by Johnson.
This appeared to be the moment when Hove’s heads dropped as Horsham added a further three tries through Joe Wilden, Jeff Carvell and Johnson in the final 15 minutes, even though the Green and Whites were down to 14 men when Rich Tredgett was yellow carded for bad language.
Horsham head coach Nick Stocker was delighted: “Overall it was a very pleasing performance. Whilst at times scrappy, we played at a tempo that suited us creating many opportunities.
“In the first half we missed a number of opportunities and likewise in the second but the effort and work rate was particularly pleasing throughout. Set piece, particularly scrum was dominant allowing the platform for the backs to operate.
“A number of telling performances - Johnny Goward was excellent along with Giles Barber. Rich Tredgett was his usual physical self and makes things happen whilst his brother Michael proved a real handful.
“Our very young back three were a threat throughout with Canice (Gonzague) scoring three and George (Palmer) threatening throughout, whilst Jordan Bell produced a hugely mature performance for an 18-year-old chipping through to set up two tries and countering with pace and precision.
“Tom (Johnson) at 10 was excellent and kicked beautifully. The bench all played a part and contributed hugely with (Liam) Brady, (Andy) Carvell and (Emmet) O’Rahilly all contributing significantly. However, amongst all these great performances, Jordan Smith stood apart and was simply huge.”
Horsham: J.Bell, Gonzague, A.Carvell, Wilde, Palmer (Crook), T.Johnson, Steggles, Barber (Brady), Grantham-Hill (Stone), N.Bell, R.Tredgett, Goward (Maguire), M.Tredgett (Clarkson), Smith (O’Rahilly), Whiting (J.Carvell).