Horsham secured their first win in London 1 South after a nail-biting 32-22 home victory over Beckenham on Saturday.
The Green and Whites set the early pace, in front of a large home crowd of 200 in warm and sunny conditions, creating a seemingly unassailable 21 point lead, only for Beckenham to make a remarkable comeback.
The visitors then dominated the middle part of the game scoring 22 points without reply before Horsham finished strongly with a converted try from Jordan Bell and a penalty to seal the victory.
Beckenham completed the double over Horsham last season on the way to securing the London 2 South East title. Memories were still fresh of the drubbing the Green and Whites encountered in the corresponding fixture when Eb Ikediashi and KK Orelaja ran amok.
This time, with both players missing and on the back of a strong finish against Chichester last week, Horsham entered the field of play full of confidence and belief that if they played to their potential the win was there for the taking.
Horsham started quickly. Following good phases in defence the ball was turned over and moved into attack which saw a penalty awarded at the breakdown after a high tackle from Josh Smith which was slotted by Tom Johnson.
From the kick-off, after several phases, Jamie Redmayne made a break and chip kicked through and Marcus Condon gathered to finish under the posts which was converted by Johnson.
A great exit play saw the ball secured following a good chase. From a good set piece Aaron Lindfield broke from the base, darted through the gap to score a very well taken try, converted by Johnson.
Horsham conceded a penalty at the breakdown which was kicked by Louis Richards. After one missed opportunity from Declan Nwachukwu, the Green and Whites secured a good field position through clever kicking.
The following lineout was turned over by Horsham and from several carries by Ciaran Preston and Jack Osgood, the ball was moved via Redmayne who put Nwachukwu in to score in the corner. The try was well converted from wide out by Johnson, and after 20 minutes Horsham led 24-3.
With no further scores added both sides went into the half-time break and it was Beckenham who exploded into life adding three tries in 12 minutes from James Cleverly, Will Berry and Andrew Knowles, two of which were converted by Richards to narrow the deficit to 24-22.
Horsham were rattled and it required some great footwork from fly-half Jordan Bell and then the pace to accelerate away from the defence to calm the fraying nerves of the home support.
Although the conversion attempt was uncharacteristically missed by Johnson after ten successful consecutive kicks in the league season to date he made amends minutes later with a thumping penalty from the half way line to secure the win.
An elated Horsham head coach Nick Stocker reflected on the win: “It was great to get the five points in a league where every point will be precious this season.
"Our first half was very good with our set piece, kicking game and continuity all working well.
“That said, the 15 minutes immediately after half time were poor where we compounded our mistakes with rash decisions to allow Beckenham back into the game conceding three soft tries.
“We were pleased that we arrested this slide and with our bonus point try on 58 minutes went back to the first half and controlled the game from then on.
“We still need to be more clinical when we have fashioned try scoring opportunities as we left four clear opportunities out there, one of which was a fine last ditch tackle on Declan Nwachukwu whilst in full flight and would normally result in a try.”
The Green and Whites travel to HAC on Saturday.
Horsham: Watts; Nwachukwu, Wilde, Johnson, Condon (Squires); J Bell, Linfield; Barber, Preston, N Bell (Cass); Goward, Osgood; Redmayne, Everitt (Smith), Hillicks.