Horsham’s good form continued in atrocious conditions with a hard-fought 22-7 win away at Ashford to keep the Green and Whites third in the table.
In an error-strewn match any passages of fluent handling rugby were at a premium in the driving rain and it was Horsham who exerted the greater control however it was not until the 75th minute that they were able to score their fourth and bonus-point try.
Horsham head coach Nick Stoker said: “It was a tough day at the office for us in awful conditions. I am however delighted that we came away with our objective of a four try bonus point win.”
The pattern of play was established with Horsham doing most of the attacking but handling errors in the wet conditions prevented this dominance being reflected.
On 16 minutes, Andy Gray made a strong direct run before passing to Giles Barber who was first in support to score. The conversion attempt was missed and Horsham’s lead was 5-0.
Horsham attacked again and the ball was spun right but Michael Tredgett couldn’t hold the pass in the wet conditions when the Green and Whites were threatening.
The closest Ashford came to scoring was when Rhys Fussell made a run over an attempted tackle but his pass was not held.
With half-time beckoning, Simon Gaynor made a surging run, carried on by Johnny Ordidge who found Arun Thompson in support and he went clear, with the try converted by Will Bell.
In the second half, when Horsham’s backs were penalised for offside, Ashford spilled the pass from the quick tap penalty when a try under the posts looked likely.
On 62 minutes after multi-phase play, Mike Watts did well to gather a James Johnson pass before stepping in off his wing to go on a weaving run and Horsham take a 17-0 lead following a missed conversion.
Jonny Whiting made a powerful run and with time running out to score the bonus point try, Horsham were awarded a five-yard scrum and Michael Tredgett made no mistake from the base of the scrum and powered over.
Matt McCabe’s conversion bounced back off the upright and Horsham lead 22-0. There was still time for Ashford to score a well-worked consolation try by centre Peter Walsh.
Stocker added: “We have closed the gap on Sevenoaks and Tunbridge Wells when we were nowhere near our fluid best. We were dominant at the set-piece and adapted to the injuries we faced during the game.
“If I had a criticism it was that we were guilty of playing too much rugby, spinning the ball from too deep and not playing for territory. Although we never looked like losing, Ashford were able to frustrate and slow our ball down and our ambition got the better if us.”
Horsham: Bell; Watts, Ordidge, McCabe; J Johnson, Mills; Barber, Stone, Talbot (Brady 45); R Tredgett (Whiting 20), Gaynor; Smith, Thompson, Gray (M Tredgett 40).