Horsham and Cranleigh rugby clubs’ first XVs warmed up for the new season with a well contested friendly on Saturday.
Cranleigh had lot of first-team regulars still to return there was ample opportunity for others to stake a claim. Horsham are well established in London 3 and from the outset they looked keen to play a fast and direct game.
Cranleigh fell off a few first time tackles as they started the game and Horsham scored the game’s first try after five minutes as their powerful centre partnership broke the defensive line and quick ball was produced for a try near the posts.
Cranleigh’s response was immediate as full back Curtis Beecroft entered the line to excellent effect, broke through a couple of tackles and powered over for a terrific individual score. This sparked Horsham into life and they began to make headway with their offloading game causing Cranleigh all manner of problems. Though Cranleigh’s scramble defence was good Horsham looked threatening with ball in hand. Horsham fluffed a couple of chances before adding a penalty but Cranleigh showed good resolve and a great break by centre Ben Lines took Cranleigh deep into Horsham’s 22 were a penalty was conceded by the home team and Beecroft converted.
The hot weather made tempers short and a quick flurry of fisticuffs saw both teams reduced to 14 for ten minutes.
A disallowed try frustrated Horsham but they continued to threaten. Their well drilled forwards dominated the breakdown but Cranleigh managed to hold them out til half time. Cranleigh winger Ben Smith made a surging run into the Horsham 22 but a torn hamstring then cruelly ended his afternoon.
In the second half Cranleigh added two further penalties through Beecroft to make the score 16-14 but in the last twenty minutes Horsham’s superior fitness and ability to make the most of turnover ball saw Cranleigh concede a flurry of late points as Horsham ran in further tries.
This match certainly showed Cranleigh where they need to improve but the commitment couldn’t be faulted and with the new league season beginning there is a healthy competition for places all through the team.