Farnham 12 Horsham 50: FARNHAM welcomed both Horsham’s first and second XV to Monkton Lane on Saturday (April 9) for the firsts’ last home fixture of the season.
It was Horsham who ran out convincing winners in both games – but the post-match party in the clubhouse confirmed the underlying friendship and respect between the two clubs.
Farnham’s first XV line-up was somewhat disrupted by the fact the club captain had taken the skipper, pack leader and a couple of other senior players away for his stag weekend.
Furthermore, talisman Toby Salmon was away raising money for charity by kayaking the length of Lake Malawi.
While some old timers grumbled, it must be remembered these boys pay for the privilege of playing in the black and white and do so for fun.
Following words spoken at lunch about the sad loss in battle of Ukraine’s former skipper Oleksi Tsibko and to cancer of Scotland and Lions prop Tom Smith, it was a timely reminder there is more to life than rugby.
Nevertheless, with a large squad of senior players, Farnham were confident of plugging the gaps and making a close game of it.
As it transpired, the gaps appeared on the pitch for Horsham who had plenty of pace out wide, especially in the form of multiple try scorer Declan Nwachukwu.
He struck in the first 30 seconds of the game when, from the kick-off, Oscar Henderson made ground and when Farnham knocked on, Horsham’s lightning quick Aaron Linfield picked up the loose ball and released Nwachukwu who skinned the defence to go in out wide.
Soon after, at a scrum the Farnham defence switched off and left a huge gap on the left through which Linfield darted and sprinted for the line to dot down under the posts. Joe Blake made simple work of the conversion to go 12-0 ahead.
Farnham scrum half Harry West had a good game, spinning the ball out left and right with a few well timed snipes from behind a pack that evenly matched their opposite numbers.
Props Conner Haynes and Ben Edwards often gave Farnham the nudge at the set piece with Jamie Low and Harrison Horner adding their weight both in the row and with some hard carries in open play.
On the flanks, Ben Brown tackled way above his weight and Sam Woodhams harried at the breakdown and made good yards with ball in hand.
From West’s interception, Farnes spotted the gap behind the Horsham defence and sent a booming punt downfield. Henderson followed up at pace and charged down the retreating winger’s kick, regathered and, showing great pace, outran the full back to score out wide. Tim Salmon’s conversion fell just short but as 12-5, Farnham were back in the game.
However, Horsham were quick to recover and a couple of punches from the forwards at a maul sucked in the defence. When the ball came out, a delicate chip over the Farnham defence set up Nwachukwu to collect and dot down.
Following a lineout Farnham cleared to their 22-metre line, but Linfield broke through and offloaded Will Bell who went over on the right to put his side 22-5 ahead at the interval.
The second half started as poorly for the home side as the first did. Horsham were soon in the Farnham 22 where penalties were conceded as the visitors chose to tap and go.
In a repeat of an earlier try, Horsham set the maul, sent a couple of forwards punching in to suck in the defence and then released Oli Chennel for an easy trot in under the posts. The conversion was good as Horsham went 29-5 ahead.
The game then ebbed and flowed with Farnham showing that, despite the score, they were a match for the visitors.
The Salmon brothers, Tim at centre and Mike at full back, had got their gander up and were making hard yards in attack. Mike had a good game, collecting a number of high kicks with fearless alacrity before putting his team back on the front foot.
Reece Stennett on the wing was forever dangerous with the ball in hand but they could not break through.
Farnes’ attempted pass to Stennett in the Horsham 22 was picked off by Bell who sprinted the length of the field to go in under the posts.
Five minutes later Horsham kicked for the corner where they simply employed a combination of good technique and their heavyweights to drive the maul over for the try. A good conversion from out wide moved the score to 43-5.
Many teams would have thrown in the towel but not Farnham, not in front of their loyal home crowd.
The Horsham defence was tiring and Farnham’s runners drove into the Horsham 22.
Farnes spotted a potential overlap on his right and fired the pass across the face of the defenders – but this, too, was picked off and Nwachukwu was off and under the posts once more to make it 50-5.
As the match drew to its close Farnham played their best rugby. The tight five won a scrum penalty in the Horsham 22 from which Tim Salmon took a quick penalty and Farnham went forward through the phases to eventually allow Harrison Horner to rumble over for the consolation score.
The final whistle went with Tim Salmon’s successful conversion.
Farnham firsts’ next game is at KCS Old Boys to fulfil the fixture postponed by Covid. The match will be played under lights at their New Malden ground next Tuesday (April 19) at 7.30pm.
Report: Mark Weeks
Photos: Julian Frost and Mark Weeks