Valiant Horsham show their spirit in London Welsh defeat
London Welsh came away from Coolhurst with a 12-19 win to continue their perfect start to the season, and following Chichester’s heavy defeat at Camberley, sit alone at the top of the table as the only team with a 100 per cent record.
Meanwhile Horsham remain winless.
This does not however tell the whole story of the game. The Green and Whites showed tremendous spirit and fight belying their lowly league position and took the game to their world-famous opponents who went into liquidation in 2017 and are now climbing the league pyramid again as an amateur club.
London Welsh were denied a bonus point for the first time this season and their players will have woken up the following morning knowing they have been in a game.
The crowd of 250 was the largest seen at Coolhurst since the promotion play-off against Farnham in 2019, swelled by the massed ranks of London Welsh supporters.
Horsham opened the scoring with an Oli Chennell penalty after two minutes following a turnover secured by Rich Tredgett. London Welsh responded with a try from scrum half Tim Ridler out wide after too many penalties had been conceded.
Austin Emens went on a superb jinking, elusive run, leaving several Welsh defenders in this wake, but Imi Lewis could not hold a difficult pass and a certain try went begging.
The Green and Whites then went down to 14 men when Rich Tredgett was yellow carded and London Welsh soon took advantage of the extra man when Paolo Peschisolido crossed the line which was converted by Osian McAvoy to take a 3-12 lead.
This was to be their last score for 40 minutes as Horsham took the game to the top of the table side and Chennell narrowed the gap to 6-12 will a well taken penalty.
London Welsh have run up large scores in the second half this season as their opposition have started to tire but Horsham didn’t flag.
On 50 minutes after more pressure from the Green and Whites a penalty was awarded and Chennell scored from long range in off the upright but a yellow card to Michael Tredgett halted Horsham’s momentum and Jacob Butler soon crossed the line for a third try for the visitors which was converted by McAvoy.
Chennell narrowed the gap to 12-19 after 66 minutes with his fourth penalty in a faultless kicking display to secure Horsham a losing bonus point in a brave performance.
Horsham head of rugby Nick Stocker said: “A pleasing performance all round from the boys that took the field. Welsh are a well drilled and organised side with a very large pack but despite this we managed to disrupt their flow.
"Defensively we were outstanding with the new patterns suffocating the Welsh attack. Our set piece stood up well and for a side who possess a powerful maul, it was very pleasing to have held them out when using this tool.
"In the first half, our penalty count was too high which granted field position to a dangerous pack with our side struggling to understand the referees interpretation at the breakdown.
"We suffered two yellow cards, one in each half and conceded two tries whilst down to 14 men.
"Without these, many of the supporters felt the game was very much in the balance and the positive sign is that our players, although pleased they’d set a higher bar of performance, were disappointed to have lost.
"There were a number of very good performances from the boys. With all the forwards going well, particular mentions to Charles Newey who put in another monumental shift with 80 minutes in the front row. Rich Tredgett and Johnny Goward in the engine room were strong throughout.
"In the back row, Josh Salisbury was his usual combative self and Mike Tredgett showed his usual strength in tidying up messy ball and getting us on the front foot with his carrying.
"All replacements added bite to proceedings when energy levels sapped, with Jack Osgood and Taylor providing strong carries late on.
"In the backs, again a great collective performance with particular mentions to Aaron Linfield’s excellent kicking game, Oli Chennell kicking perfectly all afternoon and the defensive work of the likes of Imi Lewis and Oli Joel’s.
"However in a game when many stood up, the man of the match as voted by his teammates was Austin Emens, who having moved to 15 showed just how dangerous a runner he can be. As an 18 year old, his potential is enormous and one we are looking forward to seeing develop.
"Although we are yet to get the first win on the board, the performances have improved weekly. With availability also improving now, we are seeing increasingly competitive selection discussions.
"Today a standard of performance was set, and if we replicate this, the wins will follow soon.”
Next week Horsham travel to London Cornish who are also waiting for their first league win.