Horsham's 1st XV are enjoying their promotion to London 1 South and playing at the highest level of league rugby that they have achieved in the last 25 years; judging by this result they will be staying around. Like Cobham, they play on a new artificial grass pitch, so they welcomed the opportunity to show their skills at the Memorial Grounds on Saturday (11 January).
When the teams played at Horsham earlier in the season, the Green & Whites led from the start and finished up winning 36-26. However, this return fixture really was a game of two halves with Cobham leading for much of the game, only to lose control in the second half and allow the visitors back into the game. It was the visitors who left victorious by 26-33.
The game started slowly but with Cobham enjoying better territory and possession, two penalties by the visitors within range allowed stand off Ant Braithwaite to establish a 6-0 advantage. Horsham then missed their own penalty opportunity and although confident to run the ball from their own territory, Cobham couldn’t achieve the breakthrough they threatened. Against the run of play, Horsham broke tackles down the wing and Christian Squire scored in the corner (6-5).
Shaken by this score, Cobham put together one of their best attacking moves of the game which saw the ball cross the field through the back line and Max MacDonald touching down in the corner for an unconverted try (11-5).
The Green & Whites came back strongly and although full back Rory Penfold saved what looked like a certain try, the sustained pressure from the visitors eventually resulted in second row Jack Osgood piling over. The two extra points from the conversion put Horsham in front for the first time (11-12).
Once again it took a score to fire Cobham into action. In the closing minutes of the first half, Tiernan White went over in the corner before hooker Theo Buffini ran half the length of the pitch to score. Both tries were unconverted, but Cobham led 21-12 at the break. Cobham went looking for a bonus point try and found it soon after half-time when captain and scrum half Ryan Saunders chipped the ball over the defence, which Ali Porter collected for the score (26-12).
Having achieved the same points total as they did in the first fixture, unfortunately Cobham took their foot off the accelerator while Horsham took their opportunities and chances. They scored three unanswered converted tries; the first from a lineout, then an attack from midfield and the third down the wing, which secured an unlikely victory.
This was the first defeat since the end of October for Cobham, who travel to second placed Havant this Saturday (18 January) looking to restore their winning ways.
“I have to be totally honest that was a real shock,” said Director of Rugby, Steve Pope. “We were not at the races today and that game should have been put to bed at 26-12. But we unfortunately didn't perform with the control, composure and edge that we have shown against other sides.”
“We really let them into the game as opposed to them creating any well worked chances. That was so far off the level of performance and desire shown in recent weeks, and by far the worst performance we have put in since we played Horsham away. Some individuals went well but collectively we were very much below par as a team. We will have a good look at training and selection this week, and work to fix some simple things.”
“All credit to Horsham; a wins a win and we wish them the best for the reminder of the season. We will dust ourselves down and go again as we have some big games ahead. It’s very flattering that Havant sent someone along to watch us play today, although I'm sure they will not be too concerned by what they saw. However, we will look to address the key areas that need working on. After all, one bad performance doesn’t make you a bad side. The last few weeks have been great and hopefully the boys will take lots from this disappointing performance.”
“As you can tell, I'm gutted by the result and more importantly the performance, but we will stick at it."
Cobham 1st XV Squad
1. Luke Bliss
2. Theo Buffini
3. Mario Zakakiotis
4. Louis Porter
5. Joe Goddard
6. Ali Porter
7. Olly Fox
8. Jake McQuade
9. Ryan Saunders (Capt.)
10. Ant Braithwaite
11. Max MacDonald
12. Luke Flower
13. James MacDonald
14. Tiernan White
15. Rory Penfold
16. Sam Mathcham
17. James Mitchell
18. Johnny Holmes
Tries: Max MacDonald, Tiernan White, Theo Buffini, Ali Porter
Penalties: Ant Braithwaite (2)
Saturday’s Other Senior Results:
Cobham 2nd XV 28-34 Horsham 2nd XV
Cobham Allstars 45-17 Old Cranleighans