Horsham Ladies 0 65 Hove Ladies B
Martin Read – Sports Reporter
Although they were beaten by a far more experienced visiting team, there were very encouraging signs from the spirited Horsham Ladies in their well-supported debut match.
The Hove side had been together for several seasons, fielding some players accustomed to a higher level, so it was always going to be a challenging start for Horsham, but the 25 ladies in the Horsham squad, give it their all, gaining much from their competitive first match.
The 80 minute game was played in quarters with regular changes in personnel to ensure participation of the entire squad, developing experience and skills, and Horsham launched an early attack, displaying talent across the forwards and backs. However, when Hove turned the ball over, they spread it rapidly through their backs and scored a breakaway converted try for a 7-0 lead. Horsham responded positively, tough tackling by the forwards enabling them to drive powerfully towards the try line, only for Hove to kick long to relieve the Horsham pressure. Hove were then robbed of possession, Horsham launching a counter attack with pace from the backs, showing impressive straight running down the right wing, followed by a second surge down the left in further possession. However, Hove’s know-how told a few minutes later, increasing their advantage to 12-0, despite determined tackles. Hove then dominated possession, but despite wave after wave of attacks, the Horsham defensive line held firm, often pushing back through sheer physicality, preventing addition to the score. Horsham were refreshed after changes, but Hove used their experience to great effect, moving the ball rapidly from their forwards, getting over the line on four occasions, overcoming robust tackling, which repelled further forays. But, when in possession, Horsham were pinned back by the seasoned Hove defence on the counter attack, with the half time score 34-0. Horsham upped their game after the interval, and, although an early try was conceded, they retained more possession and launched more attacks, with direct running and passing down the line and frequent turnovers achieved, holding the score at 41-0. But, Hove’s experience eventually paid dividends, more rapid moves resulting in running rugby with, in spite of some amazing tackling, a further four tries, one converted. Horsham Ladies may have suffered a heavy defeat, but they benefited enormously from their development and enjoyment, gaining new skills while relishing the camaraderie, as witnessed by the smiles on their faces and fully deserving the rousing applause of the enthusiastic spectators – all of the players, especially novices, learning much, boding well for the many great games that surely beckon.