By Richard Ordidge – HRUFC
A try in the final minute of the match saw Horsham RFC crowned the Bob Rogers Sussex Cup winners after they beat Lewes in a dramatic final at Bognor on Sunday.
Horsham battled back from 12-0 down to win 17-12 to lift their first cup trophy for exactly 20 years.
“It was a great day!” said a clearly delighted Horsham coach Nick Stocker. “I thought the better team won on balance. We were slow out of the blocks and struggled to get our patterns going but kept plugging away. The inexperience of the squad showed in handling big occasions, and Lewes who are used to playing at a higher level settled into the game quicker. Their game looked the more crisp and we were both slow to close them down and flat in attack but gradually we settled into the game and showed what we can do.”
Lewes were quick out the blocks, scoring after just 7 minutes from a try by Number 8 Rupert Arbuthnot which was converted by fly half Jon Pitts.
The game was being played in the middle of the pitch with Lewes having the slight upper hand but handling errors from both sides were preventing sufficient continuity to enable a further score.
Then on 36 minutes Lewes added to their lead, winger Gareth Lloyd evaded a few tackles to score in the corner however the conversion attempt was missed.
With half time approaching Horsham badly needed to get back into the game and did so through Jonny Ordidge. Ordidge raced to the corner where he was tackled but was still able to use his reach to ground the ball over the line, and Horsham went into half time 12-5 down.
With it being a cup game there was the ability to bring on seven replacements from the bench and at the start of the second half Horsham had already made four in an attempt to turn the tide.
The power and technique of the front row of Paul Talbot, Matt Stone and Giles Barber was now starting to systematically dismantle the Lewes scrum in an awesome display of forward power. Then, after a succession of scrum penalties on the Lewes try line, referee Iain Mitchell awarded Horsham a penalty try, which Brown duly converted to level the scores with twenty minutes remaining.
With the sides locked at 12-12 and extra-time beckoning Arun Thompson crashed over in the corner in the dying moments of normal time to snatch victory for Horsham and give the club their first cup success since 1994.
Horsham: Talbot (capt), Stone (Fisher 67), Barber (Fairs 75); Goward (Green 40), Grover; Smith (Bell 36), Pirt (Price 28), Jonathan Whiting; Rush, Johnson; Gibbs, Brown, Ordidge (Thompson 40), Taylor (O’Gorman 70); James Whiting.