Horsham Colts complete delightful double with cup win

Horsham Colts celebrate their victory over Hove
Horsham Colts celebrate their victory over Hove

This year’s Sussex Colts Cup final was held at Heathfield, and Horsham, in search of completing the double, travelled there in good spirits but knowing a stern test awaited against Hove.

The Horsham coaching team had warned the players against any complacency and assured them that Hove had absolutely nothing to lose, bearing in mind they were playing against the team who had already won the Sussex League and have reached the semi-finals of the National Under-18s Cup.

This proved to be the case from the opening kick-off and for the first 25 minutes Hove were in the ascendants. They were ferocious in defence, strong at the breakdown and put Horsham under immense pressure - although only managed a single unconverted try in this time.

During the final ten minutes of the first half, Horsham started to get on top which resulted in fly-half Joe Blake slotting a penalty to narrow the lead to 5-3 at half-time.

It was clear from the start of the second half that Horsham had taken their coaches words to heart and they proceeded to totally dominate the next 35 minutes.

It still proved extremely difficult to convert pressure into points. However, following a period of sustained pressure and drives from the forwards, prop Eddie Grogan was able to go over in the corner for an 8-5 lead.

The pattern of the second half continued in much the same way. Centre Marcus Condon, whose kicking duties for an injured Blake, then struck over a 35 metre penalty to take Horsham’s lead up to 11-3.

On a rare foray into the Horsham half Hove were awarded a penalty and the three points were taken by their kicker.

There then followed probably Horsham’s finest piece of play involving good hands from centre Alfie Burchfield who passed to prop Josh Earle who was loitering on the wing and had the strength to crash over.

This gave Horsham a ten-point cushion which Hove never really looked to threaten. In the closing moments, Hove conceded a further penalty under their posts and the three points were taken by Condon meaning the final score was 19-8 to Horsham.

Head coach Tony Lewis said: “This is the first league and cup double ever achieved at colts level by Horsham and the boys have every right to be extremely proud.

“We were certainly not at our best, particularly in the first half. While it is something of a cliché, it is true that if a team can play well below 100 per cent, but still win there is a lot to be pleased about. The boys battled extremely hard and there was some very telling contributions from the bench particularly from Tyrick Gonzague and Ian Paku.

“We will definitely need to raise our game next Sunday in the National Cup semi-final at Maidenhead but we know that the boys are more than capable of doing this.”