When Cobham travelled to Horsham last October they enjoyed a high scoring draw (32-32) and following on from some strong performances this year, expectations were high that they could leapfrog their sixth placed opponents.
Unfortunately, Horsham had different ideas and for the first time this in 2022 Cobham faltered in their efforts to play the expansive rugby they have shown to be very capable of and were only able to achieve two scoring opportunities all afternoon.
Horsham, fresh from an emphatic win last week over their Sussex rivals Chichester (their first in twenty five years!) took to the pitch with renewed confidence. After an initial period of play which saw both sides probing each other's defences, Horsham got the better of the Cobham line by putting winger Declan Nwachukwu over in the corner for an unconverted try (0-5). They followed this with what is fast becoming a trademark try per game from back row Jack Osgood as he powered over to score (0-10).
Cobham recognised that they had to get themselves onto the scoreboard next and there followed a passage of play which saw evasive running from full back Fin Savill and wingers Dan Allchurch and Rory Penfold. Number 8 Jake McQuade was persistent in driving forward at every opportunity and after several phases of play in the Horsham twenty-two, the hosts were awarded a penalty that centre Tom Farrelly converted (3-10).
Horsham responded strongly and took play back into the Cobham half but following a superb relieving kick from Farrelly, which took play back into Horsham's half, the visitors lost second row Richard Tredgett to the first of three yellow cards. Taking advantage of their extra man, McQuade squeezed over in the corner for a try that Farrelly was unable to convert (8-10).
Cobham started to look dangerous when they had the ball in hand but recognised that the visitors were tenacious in looking to turnover possession at every opportunity. Indeed, Horsham started to put daylight between the two sides on the scoreboard, firstly with a penalty from centre Ollie Chennell (8-13) before a well worked try by number 8 Michael Tredgett just before half-time, which Chennell converted to give the away side a two-score lead at the break (8-20).
The hosts came out for the second half determined and were immediately had the benefit of a second yellow card for Horsham. Despite the efforts from Goddard in the lineout, McQuade in the loose and skilful running from the whole back line, Cobham were unable to convert pressure into points. Horsham took advantage, with a further penalty putting them 8-23 ahead.
Reflecting the intensity of the rugby being played at the Memorial Grounds, there were several injuries to players on both sides with Cobham losing both centre Luke Flower and back row Ben Keast to leg injuries. In a further period of penalties awarded against both sides, Captain Ryan Saunders was sin-bin before Horsham scored their fourth, bonus point try with winger Henry Warwick racing over that made the final score (8-28).
Cobham will have been disappointed and will be looking to recalibrate this weekend (19 February) in their home fixture against London Irish Wild Geese.
Director of Rugby, Steve Pope said: “Unfortunately today we were not at the races. Against a very physical and direct opponent, we have to hold our hands up and have a good look at our individual and our collective performances. We were just not where we have been the last few weeks and for large parts of the match we didn't look like the Cobham sides of recent matches. I thought Horsham were very good value for the win today, as they managed the referee and the game far better than we did.”
“I/we will look at the match footage and look to address a very lackluster performance as that was way off of what we are working towards. We are a much better group than the very average performance we gave today. I hold my hand up and I may well of got a number of selections wrong this week. We will work hard on this at training and look forward to the visit of London Irish next weekend. We wish Horsham the very best for the remainder of the season. On a more positive note, it was great to see a number of players returning to action in the 2nd XV today.”
The 2nd XV lost a closely fought game against Horsham 19-24.
Cobham 1st XV Squad:
1. Ryan Aujla
2. Andrew Murphy
3. Ben Joyce
4. Wesley Der Ploeg
5. Joe Goddard
6. Nathan Spratt
7. Ben Keast
8. Jake McQuade
9. Ryan Saunders (Capt.)
10. Ant Briathwaite
11. Rory Penfold
12. Luke Flower
13. Tom Farrelly
14. Dan Allchurch
15. Fin Savill
16. Chris Lippiatt
17. Ollie Fox
18. Tiernan White