Win at London Irish comes despite below-par Horsham showing

It is said good teams find a way to win whilst playing poorly, and Horsham’s win away to London Irish was the epitome of this.

Thursday, 21st October 2021, 4:15 pm
Declan Nwachukwu / Picture: Darryl Sears

It is said good teams find a way to win whilst playing poorly, and Horsham’s win away to London Irish was the epitome of this.

Horsham performed well below the standards of which they are capable and coupled with the hosts selecting their strongest line-up so far, the combination was a hard fought win with the hosts understandably disappointed with the outcome.

Horsham fell behind after 30 seconds with a poorly fielded kick-off from which the home No10, who dictated play all afternoon, deftly chipped in behind the defence for the right wing to finish. With the kick unconverted, Horsham found themselves 5-0 down.

Naturally buoyed with this start, Irish continued to press with a combination of Horsham errors in possession and penalties at the breakdown gifting Irish field position.

In the first 15 minutes, Horsham showed only one glimpse of ambition and stretched the Irish defence in a decent counter attack but apart from this, were reliant on their effective defence where several catch and drive opportunities were repulsed before the Irish 10 opted for the posts to secure another 3 points on 13 minutes.

The dour affair continued and the lead was extended further when a penalty was kicked on 28 minutes following yet another penalty conceded at the breakdown. With 30 minutes played and Horsham well below par, the 11-0 score looked bleak.

As Horsham began to string a few phases together, lively scrum half Aaron Lindfield sniped from the ruck and showing his burst of pace beat the full back for a fine individual score.

Although the conversion was pushed wide, Horsham were now on the scoreboard and crucially beginning to see a little more of the ball.

With the changes made at half-time in order to liven up the team, Horsham began the second half in more lively fashion.

Despite this however, they continued to squander possession with ambitious offloads, or failure to execute simple overlaps while Irish continued to threaten through clever field kicking from their 10.

Defensively however, Horsham remained sound and despite a few close calls, managed to score first in the second half through Jack Best’s boot converting a penalty on 59 minutes.

With a quarter of the match to play, Horsham were within three points.

The introduction of Oli Joels at half-time had given Horsham attacking impetus and from a free kick at the scrum, a quickly tapped ball was moved wide. Jack Best delayed his pass for Oli Joels to hit a lovely line and break through. Bearing down on the full-back with Declan Nwachukwu on his shoulder there was only going to be one outcome with Declan finishing the move under the posts. Jack Best’s conversion saw Horsham take the lead for the first time with 15 minutes to play.

The final stages saw the inevitable press from Irish to get the win. Twice being held up over the line saw the new goal line drop out law into effect.

Horsham’s defence remained sound, but the penalty count was mounting and although in open play, Irish were not threatening greatly, offering opportunities to catch and drive gave cause for concern that one of these opportunities might be taken.

With skipper Nick Bell binned for team infringements and Irish still intent on using the driving maul, the game was brought to a close on the Horsham 5m line with a fine steal of the lineout ball by Rich Tredgett and kicked from the field of play by Aaron Linfield.

The coaches’ reflections were one of contentment that the win was secured, but frustration at the performance. It is also said that over the course of a season, these things even themselves out.

If that is the case, Horsham are under no illusions that they got away with the result this time, but a win is a win and makes up for the loss suffered against Battersea Ironsides earlier in the season. London Irish for their part will no doubt trouble several teams at home with a wonderful facility and fiesty team.

This week Horsham entertain Cobham who, like Horsham, have started 2021-22 relatively slowly.