Horsham’s thoughts of cup glory at Twickenham were dashed away at Gillingham by a powerful Anchorians side.
With the side disrupted by injuries and unavailability it was always going to be tough, though after a bright start Horsham faded disappointingly to bow out.
Matt Brown missed an early penalty after good work at the breakdown by Matt Goodsir and Ben Pirt, and minutes later he opted to tap and go in front of the posts and Horsham could not find a way through.
A lack of passing precision saw half chances not capitalised upon and on 22 minutes Gillingham outflanked the Horsham defence to score in the corner.
Weak tackling then allowed the Gills No.8 to run in and score from 25 yards and Horsham did not help themselves by failing to kick ten yards from the restart as the pressure was back on again.
Still with Nick Bell covering every blade of grass and tackling himself to a standstill, along with Lee Taylor’s sniping runs, Horsham went into half time still in the game trailing 12-0.
But injuries to Pirt and Jonny Goward unsettled Horsham and Gillingham extended their lead to 17-0 after the restart.
Horsham launched a fight back when, from a rolling maul Paul Talbot was stopped just short of the line and the ball went wide for George Philip to cross after a Brown offload.
Horsham were then sliced open too easily again with another Gills try, though Richard Brooker immediately responded by going over in the corner from Jonny Ordidge’s pass following a break from Goodsir, Brown converting.
The visitors could not maintain the pressure and Anchorians scored again to put the game beyond them.
The sides meet again in the league in two weeks time and Horsham coach Richard Bell said: “I am extremely disappointed and thought today we showed a lack of cohesion. We were good at going through the phases for the first 15 to 20 minutes but then injuries started to take their toll.
“We showed a lack of intensity, missed tackles cost us with individuals not taking responsibility and our line-out didn’t function.
“Four of their five tries were from our own errors and they only created one themselves off a rolling maul.”
Conceding that key injuries hadn’t helped, Bell added: “Overall I am disappointed because I thought we were bullied and not tough enough.”
Ryan Grover was named man of the match.
Horsham: Talbot (capt), Grantham-Hill, Barber (Barber 40); Grover, Goward; Pirt (Smith 29), Bell, Clarke; Rush, Goodsir; Brooker, Brown, Ordidge, Taylor; Philip.