Horsham entertained Barking for the first time in their history at Coolhurst on Saturday and had little idea of what to expect, however the Green and Whites came away resounding 88-10 winners after a 14 try romp and climb to third in London 2 South East.
With Horsham Lions also winning this continues the 100% start made by the club’s two senior teams in league and cup competitions this season.
The visitors are going through some lean times following relegation from London 1 North at the end of last season and are now sadly a far cry from when they were playing National League rugby a few years ago.
It has been difficult for Barking to maintain such an elevated league status following high profile coach and player departures, as well as the loss of a financial backer, in a part of London where football is such a predominant sport and it is hoped that they will stabilise and soon find their feet at level 7. They have certainly been proactive in recruiting five Lithuanian nationals working locally to provide power, if inexperience, to the team.
Horsham started strongly and a charge down from a ruck after the kick-off saw Nick Bell pick up and race over the line to score in the corner. 5-0. Straight afterwards Mike Watts jinked through to score the first of his five tries off first phase scrum possession. Tom Johnson converted. 12-0. A poor clearance kick return was spun wide with a miss pass from Johnson, who found Joe Wilde, and the try was well finished by Tom Blewitt. Johnson converted from out wide off the inside of the post. 19-0 after ten minutes.
Barking came back with a brief period of pressure and secured a penalty in front of the posts when Horsham’s back line strayed offside but the kick was missed.
The Green and Whites came back and from a line-out the ball was spun wide, and Wilde saw the onrushing defence and made a perfectly weighted chip and win the race to touch down and score one handed. Johnson converted. 26-0. Watts then made a fine break and passed to the supporting Emmet O’Rahilly but he was hauled down with a desperate high tackle and the Barking player incurred a yellow card. Great interplay between Johnson, Michael Tredgett and Kyle Fairs then saw Adam Clarkson cross the line under the posts. Johnson converted. 33-0.
Barking then registered their first points on the scoreboard which was kicked by Jake Baker when Horsham conceded a penalty at the breakdown. 33-3.
Horsham responded with Bell fielding the kick-off and the ball was moved wide to O’Rahilly who beat his man to score in the corner, followed by an excellent conversion from Johnson. 40-3 after 30 minutes. Scrum-half Josh Mills made a long break, and then patience involving multiple sets of hands saw Watts finish under the posts. Johnson converted. 47-3. A searing break through the middle from Watts saw him finish under the posts. Johnson converted. 54-3. Barking’s No.8 was yellow carded and then a quick tap resulted in Johnny Ordidge unselfishly passing to O’Rahilly to score his second try of the game in the corner. 59-3 at half-time.
Horsham started the second half quickly when the kick-off was received and spun wide for Wilde to race through the middle to score his second try. Johnson converted. 66-3.
Barking however never gave-up and there was a lull in Horsham’s points scoring for 25 minutes as they came off the boil with their attacking play as their three substitutions took time to bed in. Prop Samuel John for the visitors made a barnstorming run, which was carried on by the second row but the attack ended when the ball was thrown forward, and for a while asked questions of their own of the home defence.
As the came neared its conclusion Horsham had a final flourish. O’Rahilly made a great break down the wing before leaving the field with a slight knock then following several phases from a line-out Ordidge scored out wide. 71-3. A fine multiple-hands try with inside and outside passes with Johnson, Watts and Wilde conspicuous was finished by Watts. Johnson converted. 78-3.
There was still time for Barking to score a well worked try. Horsham conceded a penalty which the visitors kicked for touch and from the ensuing driving maul, Vytautas Mudingis powered over and the try was converted by Baker. 78-10.
Horsham responded from a quick pick and go when Jonny Goward stretched his legs to gallop down the left wing and made a good inside pass for Mills in support to run in and score. 83-10. Finally from a box kick by Mills, Watts outpaced the defence to regather to run in and score his fifth try in the corner. Final score 88-10.
A great start to the season for Horsham against a side who are rebuilding after a number of difficult years but there will be far harder games to play.
Horsham head coach Nick Stocker reflected after the game: “We started quickly and maintained tempo in face of physical side which saw us move them about the park effectively. Once in our stride, our pace and execution proved a real handful to the opposition who although Barking maintained a real desire throughout, which is hugely commendable given the circumstances, they did not manage to get a toe hold in the game.
After 41 minutes and at 66-3 we slackened off and did not score again until the 67th minute which is something that we will look at. We now go into a very challenging series of fixtures in the next few weeks but with another five players returning to the fray, the selection decisions will really test the coaching team this week and beyond.
Man of the match was obviously Mike Watts. He is a huge threat in attack and we are really pleased to have him back.”
Horsham next face Beckenham away on 30 September. Whilst Beckenham have lost their last two games in London 2 South East these have been narrow defeats and against sides who are amongst the favourites for promotion. The Green and Whites know they are in for a difficult game having lost the last time the sides met in a great contest.
Horsham: Watts; Ordidge, Blewitt, Wilde, O’Rahilly; Johnson (capt), Mills; Fairs, Fisher (Grantham-Hill), Brady; Clarkson, Goward, (Maguire); Bell, Jenkins, Tredgett (Plumpton)