Farnham Rugby Club have been knocked off the top of the Regional 2 South East table after crashing to a 43-0 defeat at Horsham on Saturday.
After the opening successful salvo of four wins on the bounce, Farnham’s first team was brought back down to earth in no uncertain manner by a powerful and well drilled Horsham side.
In a post-match analysis conducted by a handful of faithful followers, it was determined that none of the squad had a particularly bad game.
From the pack Vincent and Henderson played their usual, gnarly game with young Fin Anderson giving able support.
When Rory McMichael came on at centre at half time, Farnham found some momentum. The Salmon brothers, Tim and Toby, did well in midfield off relative scraps of possession. Toby was particularly effective kicking penalties out of hand.
On the wings, Chalker made a couple of incisive runs while Stennett made the tackle of the match to halt what would have been yet another breakaway try. Nathan Phillimore at full back caught everything launched at him.
So where did it all go wrong? It is difficult for any side to get into a game when the referee awards nine penalties against them and none against the opposition in the first 22 minutes.
Perhaps being shoved off the ball in the tight and bullied off the ball accounted for the imbalance. Within five minutes Horsham had a lineout five metres out and their powerful pack duly mauled the ball over the line. Five minutes later the performance was repeated, at which time forwards coach James Chisholm implored his charges to sack the jumper.
This was tried, but the referee determined the sack was illegal and Oscar Henderson was carded to go along with yet another penalty to Horsham.
When Farnham did get possession, they put in some eye catching phases but failed to make ground. In fact, Farnham did not get into the “red zone” in the entire first 40 minutes.
Conversely, Horsham gave their electric backs an opportunity and slick handling released their dynamic number 11 to race in from 40 metres out to make it 17-0. With the referee now evening up the penalty count, Farnham did get into the Horsham half, but a pass was intercepted and but for valiant work by the cover defence, a breakaway try would have been scored.
As the half drew to a close, after another raking penalty kick from Toby Salmon, Farnham set an attacking lineout on the Horsham 22, but a miscall saw the ball sail over the jumpers heads to be snaffled by the Horsham scrum half.
At half time, on the scoreboard at least, Farnham were not completely out of it at 17-0.
It perplexed the faithful that although Farnham looked more stable and threatening in the second half, the team managed to ship a further 28 points without scoring themselves.
Perhaps it was that things seemed to be getting better that lead to the downfall.
Twice more an intercepted pass allowed Horsham’s pacemen to burst out from their own 22 through a Farnham team lined up for attack to score under the posts. Farnham still did not get the rub of the green from the referee. Toby Salmon was set for one of his searing runs from deep only to be brought down by a tackle Vinnie Jones would have been proud of. No card was shown.
Whatever their fortune, Farnham were beaten by the better side on the day.
The fact was well illustrated by Horsham’s penultimate score brought about by a silky break through the ten channel after some punishing drives from the forwards. With a two-man overlap, the score was inevitable. However, there was more controversy for Horsham’s final score as a speculative kick bounced down the artificial surface into Farnham’s dead ball area.
The footrace was even, but as defender and attacker both strived to dab the ball down, the referee adjudged the defender to have purposefully slapped the ball away and a penalty try was awarded.
Farnham did not surrender. From the restart, and with seconds left in the game, the Farnham chasers harried the Horsham catcher, brought him to the ground and had hands on the ball. The referee sounded a shrill blast and Horsham had a penalty. Soon afterwards another blast announced the end of the game.
With no league game this Saturday, the club has organised an Oktoberfest social at the clubhouse which is open to all. The Black and Whites will return to action at home against KCS Old Boys on Saturday, October 15, with lessons learned and renewed vigour.
Report: Mark Weeks