Seventh straight league win coming at Dover gives Horsham an improved play-off shot

London 2 South East: Horsham v Aylesford Bulls.  Jack Osgood. Pic Steve Robards SR1905879 SUS-190403-141556001
London 2 South East: Horsham v Aylesford Bulls. Jack Osgood. Pic Steve Robards SR1905879 SUS-190403-141556001

Horsham increased their chances of achieving a play-off place for promotion with a comfortable 21-69 win away at Dover.

The Green and Whites made it seven consecutive league wins and were the only side in the top three to win on Saturday.

Whilst Beckenham’s march to the title has slowed in recent weeks they are still overwhelming favourites to win the league despite their defeat at Haywards Heath, however the surprise was Charlton Park losing at Deal & Betteshanger.

Horsham have not won at Dover before, with the Kent side having historically played in higher leagues, and the Green and Whites throwing away a winning position in the closing stages of the game last season.

With both teams missing several of their regular starting line-up due to injury and unavailability, there was an air of anticipation at The Crabble.

An explosive start saw five tries scored in the first 16 minutes without reply, three of which were converted by Joe Wilde.

The kick-off was secured and after several phases left and right, Kyle Fairs hit a line on the burst to score in the first minute.

Pressure play then saw the ball retained and eventually spun to Sam Hampson to finish strongly for his first try.

With Horsham attacking in waves, a fine break by Mike Watts saw the ball recycled and an eventual pick and go by both props was finished by Fairs burrowing in over for his second try.

A good attack from the kick-off and excellent distribution from Jordan Bell saw Watts break and put Mathieu Pecharman away to score, then a length of the field try was completed by Pecharman outstripping the defence from 40 metes out after a good carry and offload by Emmet O’Rahilly.

After a period of pressure from Dover, a penalty was awarded and O’Rahilly quickly tapped to score under the posts and then Vince Everitt crossed the line with a strong carry after a quick tap by Aaron Linfield.

With seven first-half tries, five of which were converted by Wilde, Horsham went into the half-time break leading 45-0 with the result effectively secured.

It was difficult in the second half for Horsham to play with the same intensity as the game became more loose and less disciplined, but the Green and Whites still scored four further tries whilst a spirited Dover team never gave up and scored three good tries of their own.

Strong multi-phase play saw Hampson run in following a good line by Jonny Whiting, then a fine multiple phase attack from a kick return by Watts saw an eventual finish by Whiting.

Jamie Redmayne scored following several attack phases with great support and the scoring was completed when Jack Osgood powered through from 30 metres out following Dan Cass securing turnover ball.

Horsham head coach Nick Stocker said: “We started brightly and killed the game off in the first quarter which meant the challenge to the team was to maintain focus and try to play our patterns. On the whole this was achieved although as expected, we did occasionally become loose given the score line.

“The pace in the team caused problems all day and with the support runners readily available, we managed to keep the ball alive when in attack leading to some excellent team tries.

“The players that stepped up in the absence of regular first team starters all did extremely well.

“Despite several good performances from players like Nick Bell, skipper for the day Jamie Redmayne and Adam Clarkson, man of the match went to converted hooker, Kyle Fairs who hit his lineouts well, carried strongly and helped himself to two great tries to cap off a fine performance.

“With another week off next weekend, we head into the final three matches of the season with a tough home match against Sussex rivals Haywards Heath in a league and cup doubleheader on March 23.”

Horsham: Watts, Pecharman, Wilde, Condon, Hampson, J.Bell, Linfield, N.Bell (Cass), Fairs, Earle, Clarkson, Osgood, Redmayne, Everitt (Whiting), O’Rahilly (Powell).