There were explosions both on and off the field as Horsham convincingly beat Sheppey 53-3 ahead of the club’s spectacular bonfire and fireworks night, as every member of the front row union scored tries.
The win put Horsham back on top of the table after rivals Folkestone suffered a surprise defeat, and the two sides meet on Saturday in a real test of the Green and White’s title credentials.
A delighted coach Nick Stocker said: “We needed to maintain the pressure on the teams at the top. Our first target today was to win, and then to get the bonus point, and then to score as many points as possible because it is tight at the top end of the table and it might come down to points difference.
“I am happy that we achieved our objectives, and particularly that we stopped them crossing our line. To be fair to Sheppey they have a good set of forwards who gave us more trouble than most sides we have played this season.
“From our point of view it was a far more balanced team performance from the forwards and backs, we controlled most phases of the game and our cohesion was better than we have seen in recent weeks.”
An inauspicious start saw Jonny Goward prevent an early Sheppey try before Rob Grantham-Hill continued his run of try scoring after five minutes, before Sheppey pegged the Green and Whites back with a penalty.
The game was rather disjointed and affected by the howling gale until, on 19 minutes Lee Taylor outflanked the Sheppey defence to run in from the halfway line.
Three minutes later, a quick pass from Ben Rush followed by a break from Will Bell sliced open the Sheppey defence and good hands from the outside backs lead to Matt Goodsir crossing the line to score, which Bell converted from the touchline.
Jonny Ordidge then made a break which lead to a penalty in front of the posts which Will Bell slotted, followed by the try of the match. Lee Taylor straightened the line to pierce the defence and then great inter passing, both inside and outside, lead to the supporting Nick Bell scoring.
Nick Bell was then yellow carded for a late tackle, and it required Taylor to prevent a certain try as he got his body underneath the ball in tackling to prevent it being grounded after Sheppey had gone through several phases on the stroke of half time as Horsham turned around 27-3 up.
In the second half Horsham carried on where they had left off as Will Bell made another break for prop Giles Barber to storm in under the posts, and then fellow prop Adam Day showed a burst of speed to run in from 25 yards.
As Sheppey’s heads started to drop Will Johnson ran in to score on his return from injury after good hands in the three quarters and then Taylor scored a fine solo try to complete the scoring.
As part of the pre match build up, the club also fielded two sides against Aachen from Germany.
Horsham: Day, Grantham-Hill, Barber (Talbot 60); Goward, Whiting; Pirt (Smith 60), N Bell, Ordidge; Rush, W Bell; Rice, Brown, Taylor, Phillip; Goodsir (Johnson 60).