Horsham kept up their pursuit of a second-placed finish in London 2 South East as they completed the double over Thanet Wanderers at Coolhurst on Saturday.
It was a dominant display from the Green and Whites as tries from Michael Tredgett, Aaron Linfield, Jordan Smith, Declan Nwachukwu, Joe Wilde and a penalty score helped them to a 42-14 success.
The bonus-point win saw them narrow the gap on second-placed Charlton Park to just three points, ahead of the season-defining clash between the two sides in London on January 26.
Head coach Nick Stocker was delighted with the result and said: “It was a fantastic first half with four very good tries, the second being one of the best seen at Coolhurst for some time.
“The forwards were excellent with telling contributions from Michael Tredgett, Richard Tredget and Jordan Smith.
“The physicality was noticeable with the likes of Nick Bell and Dan Cass to the fore whilst Ted Powell grows more assured at hooker each week and Jack Osgood is increasingly influential.
“In the backs, the pace creates havoc. The back three of Mattieu (Pecharman), Marcus (Condon) and Declan (Nwachukwu) were excellent whilst Joe Wilde and TJ (Tom Johnson) in the centres created space all afternoon.
“Jordan Bell at ten continues to control play well, knowing when to kick and when to put his runners into holes. Aaron Linfield at nine plays with a maturity beyond his years and continues to improve weekly.
“With so many good performances, the standout was that of Jamie Redmayne. His physicality in both attack and defence, combined with his organisation saw a huge contribution to the result.”
Both teams started the game with a similar level of intensity and Michael Tredgett immediately made an impression with a series of good carries, setting the tone for the rest of the half. Continued pressure from Horsham saw a scrum awarded and Tredgett was able to pick and drive over the line to score their first try.
Tom Johnson converted well to put seven points on the board with ten minutes gone.
The Green and Whites then scored a sublime try. Direct from the reset, they collect the ball and it was spun wide to Nwachukwu, who pumped down the wing. Before he was tackled in to touch, a well-weighted pass inside to Wilde sees two Thanet tacklers beaten. Wilde checked another defender’s step and lay off to Condon and in turn Bell, who gained more ground and found Johnson. Johnson switched to Linfield, who went over in a 30 second-move from the restart.
Horsham were building momentum and playing with confidence and flare. Another try came at the 17 minute mark when Nwachukwu was subject of a high tackle on the tryline and a penalty try was awarded.
Multi-phase play from both Horsham and Thanet would see attack and defence on display, and being tested, by both sides. The pendulum eventually swung in Horsham’s favour with the ball spun wide to Smith in Thanet’s 22 who powered over the line. Johnson put over the extras for a 28-0 lead at half-time.
The second half was all about sustained Thanet pressure and would show some cracks emerge in the Horsham line-up.
The first was in the form of a yellow card for Jordan Bell after a tackle from an offside position. As the pressure continued, Horsham displayed fine defence in all areas of the pitch.
The relentless nature of Thanet’s attack eventually found reward. Following a series of penalties, they were able to find the try line after a sustained 20-minute period of forward momentum.
The try was converted to see Thanet with seven points on the board for the first time in the game.
After some scrappy play Vince Everitt was able to make an impression and beat multiple tacklers before laying off to Nwachukwu who managed to capitalise on his position and score. Johnson’s extras put Horsham 35-7 ahead.
Wilde would be next to score for Horsham via some sublime positioning as he intercepted and faced over to score another converted try, although Thanet did have the last say with a late converted try to add some more consolation.
Stocker added: “On Saturday, we play Brighton in the Sussex Cup at home whilst our second team play Crawley in the cup.
“We return to league action with a huge game against Charlton Park and the battle for second place in the league.”
Horsham: Cass, T.Powell, N.Bell, Osgood, R.Tredgett, Redmayne, Smith, M.Tredgett, Linfield, J.Bell, Nwachukwu, T.Johnson, Wilde, Pecharman, Condon. Subs: Fairs, Steggles, Everitt.