Match Reports

 

Saturday 21st September 2013
Horley 63 Shoreham 7

On a mild autumn afternoon Horley welcomed Shoreham for their first home fixture of the season.

After a scrappy and uninspired opening ten minutes of play from which both teams struggled to put consistent phases of play together, it was Horley who struck first.

Horley’s pack created the perfect platform for the score with a dominate scrum at their own 22. Scrum half Jack Pellen zipped the ball to fly half Jon Daniels taking it pace and delivered a perfect miss pass to outside centre Andy Watson. With an individual piece of brilliance, Watson side stepped the rushing defence to break the gainline and offloaded to his full back and brother Mark Watson, who in turn flicked the ball to flying winger Ade Corcoran to finish a well worked try.

Horley scored their second try shortly after the restart from a beautiful set move off a scrum. Inside centre Jake Sheldon drew two opposition defenders with a masterful dummy run, leaving Daniels space to pop the ball to striding full back Watson who thundered to the line.

Despite going behind, Shoreham refused to give in and continued to attack with vigour. Fortunately Horley were well matched to the task. After some excellent defensive work by Lock Simon Trevaskis and blindside flanker Richard Barnes, Horley were rewarded with a penalty. With accurate use of the boot, Daniels kicked to touch for a 60 yard territory gain.  

Throwing in at the Shoreham 22 on the ensuing line-out, Hooker and pack leader Wayne Davies expertly picked out flanker Jon Chitty and set up a driving maul. With Prop forwards Gabor Agardi and Chris Maguire providing the muscle, Horley showed their power and bulldozed their way to line. With 5 metres to go, number 8 Steve Parsons broke away, shrugged off two tacklers and placed the ball over the line for the Griffins third try.     

After injuries to Agardi and Parsons, newcomers to the club Chris Ryan and Jake Richardson stepped in to bolster the Griffins, which continued to set the tone by collecting ball and relentlessly smashing into the opposition defence.

Not to be out done, the Horley Backs sliced through the Shoreham defence with slick passing and surging runs.  With minutes left to go in the first half, Andy Watson added his name to the score sheet after receiving a pass from Daniels and sprinted to the line for a breakaway try to close out the first half.

Halftime; Horley 28 - Shoreham 0

After brief discussion at the half, Horley made some subtle changes that saw Jon Dall come onto the wing and Zack Richardson make his debt for the 1st XV.

Picking up where they left off after the first 40 minutes of play, Horley were on the offensive from the whistle. Simon Trevaskis collected the ball from the kick off and battered his way his way to midfield, supported by fellow forwards Bryant, Maguire and Davies, who took it in turns to take the ball on and put Shoreham on the back foot.  

With the defense blitzing in an attempt to slow the furious pace of the Horley attack, winger Owen Wadey spotted the open space and executed a clever kick to the try line, putting Centre Sheldon in foot race with his opposite man and dove on the loose ball for Horleys 5th try of the game and the delight of the home crowd.

With their spirits high, Horley allowed complacency to creep in for a brief period, giving Shoreham the opportunity to counter attack from the restart. After isolating the Griffins in their own 22, Shoreham forced Horley into committing a penalty and used the momentum to set up some well worked phases of play and scored to the right of the posts. 

Disappointed with their temporary lapse in defense, Horley were determined not to let Shoreham back into the match and increased the pressure.

With Jon Chitty and Richard Barnes a presence at seemingly every breakdown snaffling ball, and Jake Richardson fearless in defense putting hit after bone jarring hit, the Griffins did not have to wait long until they were once again on the charge.  

After scooping up a loose ball and linking up with front rowers Maguire and Davies, Zack Richardson powered his way through the opposition defense for a 40 yard gain, finally wrestled to the ground by 3 Shoreham defenders. With the space created out wide, scrum half Pellen fizzed a pass out to the backs allowing Jake Sheldon to score his 2nd of the match.       

With the game coming to a close, Horley added to their tally with another try from Mark Watson to complete the hat trick and Wayne Davies rounded off the superb team performance with a final try under the posts.  Andy Watson neatly converted, bringing his total to 9 conversions on the day.  

Horley travel to Hove next week and look to continue their bright start to the campaign.

Final Score; Horley 63 - Shoreham 7.

 

League Championship for Horley – 24/3/12

Horley secured their second league championship and promotion in two years on Saturday with an emphatic win over a Bognor side that were determined to put an end to the Griffins’ superb season. Horley have lost just one game in the last 12 months, including friendly fixtures against teams two leagues above them, and were determined to end their season as champions.

Bognor were well prepared for the fixture and wanted to play a physical game from the first whistle, but Horley’s strength at adapting to other team’s gameplay soon proved too much for the home side to contend with. From the first whistle, Horley attacked hard, winning quick ball and spinning it wide to ensure that Bognor’s forwards couldn’t snaffle the ball in the tackle, and Horley’s faster and more physical backs soon cut through the defence for their first score courtesy of winger Ade Corcoran. However, it was Horley’s forwards that laid the platform and, despite Bognor’s reputation for their physical presence and forward play, the Horley forwards dominated in all areas. After 15 minutes, a perfect catch and drive from the lineout saw Horley march the opposition 30 metres up the pitch, allowing flanker Richard Barnes to finish the move by crashing over the line.

Horley were in front from the start and the first half just saw them accrue a comfortable cushion and play some mesmerising rugby, with a fantastic interception try from centre Jack Pellen, a trademark blindside crash from hooker Wayne Davies, and a perfect sprint to the line from Kent Tristram. 

There was a brief moment that allowed Bognor into the Horley half and eventually score in the corner through a well-worked move and relentless pressure, but Horley returned to form immediately after and prevented any further scores. At half time, Horley held a comfortable 31-7 lead and you could sense the desire for success throughout the team.

The second half was a tighter affair and remained scoreless for 30 minutes thanks to the defensive strength of both teams. As the game entered the last 10 minutes though, it was Horley that had the stamina to seal their victory. First of all, a well worked backs move saw fly half Jon Daniels release full back Mark Watson on a trademark striding run, offloading to Kent Tristram to score in the corner. Then, as the final minutes ticked away, Horley launched numerous superb phases of plays preventing Bognor from having any possession and slowly worked their way up the pitch. An inside pass to Wayne Davies saw the hooker break through two tacklers and sprint away, committing the full back and offloading to Kent Tristram who stepped one way to avoid the winger, then the other way to side step the covering flanker and score under the posts with a victorious cry to celebrate his hatrick.

At the final whistle, Horley were the winners by 43-7 and league champions of Sussex 2.

Regardless of what happens in their final fixture, at home to Norfolk Arms next week, Horley have finished a near perfect season with another emphatic win and collect the silverware to join their previous Championship trophy. Whilst the team are determined to finish the season with another win next week, the club is already looking towards next season and a new challenge in the Sussex Intermediate league, with a firm intention to compete for another title.

Horley Rugby Club have gone from strength to strength and their second team also enjoyed a superb win at the weekend showing the strength in depth throughout. Horley RFC have superb facilities and welcome all newcomers regardless of experience or age. Please get in touch if you are interested in joining one of the friendliest and most successful clubs in the South East. .

Horley Undefeated at Season Halfway Point – 17/12/11

Horley's promotion dream is still well and truly alive, as the Griffins continue their unbeaten run in the league and remain top of Sussex 2. The last time the Griffins tasted defeat was back in March when they lost to the Bulgarian National side whilst on tour in Sofia. Since then, the team have brushed aside opposition in their own league as well as teams competing in higher leagues during friendly fixtures.

This week, Horley travelled away to Norfolk Arms in Steyning with spirits high and a determination not to stumble in the pursuit of a second league championship. The last time the two teams met in 2008, Norfolk Arms dominated the young Griffins and racked up more than 50 points. Horley knew it would be a difficult game having seen some of Norfolk Arms' other results, but you don't win championships by being afraid of opposition teams.

Norfolk Arms kicked off straight down the throat of captain Steve Parsons, who promptly showed them their mistake. With body low and shoulders formed into battering rams, Parsons strode up the pitch, bouncing would be tacklers away. The ball was recycled from the ruck and another drive led by prop Simon Trevaskis gained yet more ground. After several phases of forwards ball, scrum half Andy Watson sent the ball out to Jon Daniels at fly-half who unleashed the awesome Horley backs. Centre Jack Pellen cut the defence in two and off-loaded to Ian Husband on the wing who was unlucky not to round his opposite man for the first score. He was unfortunately tackled intot touch and Norfolk Arms had the opportunity to clear their lines. The clearance kick did not gain them much ground and Horley remianed in attack in the oppostion half.

Despite surging runs from the backs, Horley were unable to break the lines until a well-drilled move sent the ball through the backs hands to full back Mark Watson who carved a wonderful line through the defence, committed the last man before popping the ball to Ade Corcoran on the wing. Corcoran cut back inside to avoid the covering tackles and crashed over the line for the first points. Daniels converted and Horley had the lead.

Having worked so hard for their first try, Horley could tell that Norfolk Arms weren't going to be a pushover and found themselves immediately defending against an invigoured opposition. Horley were continually clearing their lines and could not formulate another opportunity to attack and break. A long kick from Daniels put the ball all the way down the pitch on the Norfolk Arms 5 metre line but their spritely full back chose to run the ball back. He evaded the two Horley defenders chasing the kick down and cantered up the park, weaving around tacklers. Horley closed him down and he eventually popped a pass out to his centre, who saw the Horley defenders closing him down and threw a wild pass to his outside man. From nowhere, scrum half Andy Watson tore threw the line, intercepted the ball in mid-air and sprinted off. Norfolk Arms' players tried to grab him, but Watson's speed and nimble movement meant that they were all left grabbing at thin air and he raced all the way down the pitch to score under the posts. Daniels again converted to give Horley a 14-0 lead.

The remainder of the first half was spent battling it out in the middle of the park, with neither team able to break through.

The second half began in a similar fashion, with both sets of forwards trying to bash through the opposition. The game was deadlocked until the powerful Norfolk Arms flanker broke a Horley tackle and managed to crash over the Horley line for their first score. The try went unconverted, but Norfolk Arms now had the bit between their teeths and could sense that the game was still in their grasp.

After a long period of play in the centre of the park, Norfolk Arms continued to move forward inch by inch. Horley remained superb in defence and would not let them through but at the same time could not secure possession for themselves. Another crash ball and missed tackle gave Norfolk Arms the opportunity to place more pressure on Horley and after numerous phases, they found a big overlap and scored their second try. Again it was unconverted but brought them within a single try,

Realising that they had let the game slip away, Horley found renewed determination and lifted their game. The forwards were awesome at driving up the pitch and presenting clean ball, working as a unit to ensure ball retention. Just inside the Norfolk Arms half, Andy Watson whipped a quick ball out to Daniels, who ran a dummy move with centre Matt Clark and popped the ball to Mark Watson, sprinting into the line from full back. Watson crashed through two players before passing the ball back to Daniels who finished off with a sprint to the try line, diving over with desperate Nofolk Arms defenders hanging off him.

The final minutes ticked away and as the final whistle blew, Horley had won the game 19-10 and continued their undefeated run. Horley now take a break for Christmas but resume their campaign on the 7th January when the return fixtures begin.

Unbeaten Horley Make it 5 out of 5 – 22/10/11

After a superb start to the season, Horley continued their quest for promotion with another resounding win over tough opposition on Saturday. It was a long road trip to Chichester for the Griffins, with a lot of nervous energy in the team having lost the same fixture last season against a Chichester side who have an exemplary record at home. However, Horley have become stronger and fitter, brushing aside many good sides in their relentless pursuit of excellence and had no intentions of losing for the first time this season.

Horley kicked off the first half heading down a dramatic slope and immediately put Chichester under pressure with superb tackling, rucking and mauling from the forwards. After five minutes of pressure in which Chichester were unable to escape from their own half, Horley got the scoring under way with a superb foundation from the forwards, delivering excellent ball to the backs who ran a pitch perfect move to send full back Mark Watson soaring over the line. The first try was quickly followed by two more courtesy of captain Steve Parsons and scrum half Andy Watson, who made another trademark solo break, all converted by fly half Jon Daniels to give Horley a 21-0 lead. With a rout on the cards, Horley allowed complacency to creep in for a brief period and gave Chichester the opportunity to attack back. Horley’s defence stayed strong but they gave away a penalty in front of their posts and, with little else to give, Chichester elected to kick for points. The kick went wide but Chichester came back from the 22 re-start through a darting run from their outside centre, who eluded numerous Horley tackles and managed to score a try. The try went unconverted and Horley went straight back with renewed vigour. A series of good phases from Chichester saw them back in the Horley half again they were awarded a penalty in front of the Horley posts. This time, the kick was good and the referee blew for half time, with Horley holding a 21-8 lead.

The second half saw Horley attacking up the steep slope and it was obvious that Chichester thought that they could get back into the game with the pitch advantage. However, Horley had other ideas and saw the slope as an opportunity to run even more complex moves and lines. It wasn’t long before they were scoring again with another try for Mark Watson, which he followed up three minutes later with his hat-trick. Further scores went to Richard Barnes, Ade Corcoran, Jon Daniels and a second for Steve Parsons. Aside from a couple of lucky tries against the run of play for Chichester, Horley dominated in every area of the game, snubbing out everything the opposition threw at them and seizing every opportunity with vigour. Chichester managed to grab a couple of late tries to make the final scoreline a bit less one sided at 62-25, but Horley left the pitch satisfied with a job well done.

At the end of the match, there were plenty of Horley players on the score sheet, but the win was testament to a team that have grown and developed and fear no team on the pitch. Ferocious tackling, selfless distribution, clever rucking & mauling and well rehearsed moves all combined to give a fantastic display. Newcomer flanker Andy Hough was awesome in the loose, stealing ball from downed opposition time and again to secure possession for Horley. Fellow forwards, Joe Pellen, Rob Houliston, Simon Trevaskis, Chris Maguire and Chris Williams all contributed to every phase and showed a togetherness and team spirit that make them such a force to be reckoned with. Another newcomer, Gabor Agardi had a fantastic game at tight head prop, with smashing carries, solidness in the scrum and determination in the loose, that made his debut for the Horley 1st team a memorable occasion. Centres Jack Pellen, Kent Tristram and Matt Clark also had superb games, constantly breaking the line and setting up opportunities for support runners. Every single player should feel proud of the way they played individually and as part of a formidable team.   

Horley are top of the league, with five wins out of five and a total of eight wins out of eight for the season.

Another Team in League Above Fall to the Griffins - 10/09/11

In their final friendly before the league season commences, Horley had arranged another game with a team in the league above them in order to really test themselves and gauge their ability against teams in higher leagues. This week, it was the turn of St Francis to witness how the Griffins have developed through the Summer.

Horley arrived at St Francis' home in Crawley just as the heavens opened and immediately took to the pitch for a lengthy warm up and final run through moves. Confidence was high prior to kick off and the entire Horley team were prepared for a tough game against a new-look St Francis side, who were relegated last season from Sussex 1 and keen to get themselves back up.

Horley were caught napping at the kick off and allowed St Francis to gain substantial ground through multiple phases of ruck and maul play. It was obvious that St Francis intended to use their enormous front row to bash through Horley, but they didn't count on the unrelenting tackling ability of Horley's forwards. However, they managed to retain ball and finally managed to break the lines, whipping the ball out through the backs and scoring an early try. It was the wake up call Horley needed and from the restart, the pack chased hard and struck back, pinning St Francis down in their own half for most of the remainer of the half. Teams like St Francis don't break easily and despite the repeated attacks, Horley could not find a gap in their opponents defences. The deadlock was finally broken by a phase that involved all 15 players, starting with a superb catch and drive at the lineout before being sent quickly through the backs to attacking full back Mark Watson who crashed over the line in the corner.

With just minutes left of the first half, St Francis came straight back and were awarded a penalty deep in the Horley half. Unable to break the Horley defence, they elected to kick a penalty but missed due to the strong winds. However, Horley were slow to defend fromt he 22 restart and allowed the St Francis forwards to gain momentum and eventually score their second try.

Trailing 10-5 at half time, Horley regrouped and calmly discussed areas to tighten up and improve. The second half saw the Griffins come out with renewed determination and immediately showed their intent with strong carries from the forwards and excellent lines from the backs. After many phases of attack helping them to march up the pitch, centre Ian Husband managed to dive over the whitewash in the far corner with three of the St Francis defenders clinging onto him.

With the scores level at 10-10, Horley dominated most of the second half. In a rare visit to the Horley half, St Francis managed to create an overlap and their centre scored their third try.

Five minutes left and trailing by 5, Horley still kept a cool head. St Francis had been showing signs of tiring and the Griffins knew that they had the energy to find a gap in teh St Francis defence. More phases of attack put Horley on the 5 metre line and winger Ade Corcoran came in off his wing and showed massive strength to crash over the line from the base of a ruck. Drawing 15-15, fly half Daniels had to deal with the strong winds to kick from out wide and put Horley in the lead for the first time. The final minutes ticked away and when the referee blew the whistle, Horley had beaten another side above them in the leagues by the smallest of margins.

Horley kick off their league campaing next Saturday against Bognor. 3pm kick off at ther home ground, the New Defence.

Double Victory Kicks Off Griffins Season - 31/08/11 and 03/09/11

Horley Rugby Club kick started their 2011/12 campaign with two superb wins last week. On Wednesday evening, the Griffins took on an extremely fit and physical side from the army in an exhilarating friendly fixture. The 27th Regiment Royal Logistics Corp arrived from their Aldershot base looking ready to do war with Horley.

As soon as the game got under way, Horley were able to demonstrate their own physical presence with a superb win of the opposition’s scrum followed by a spectacular phase through the backs taking Horley straight into the opposition 22. The forwards moved across the park quickly to create a well-rehearsed ruck, and clean ball from scrum half Andy Watson to fly half Jon Daniels allowed the backs another opportunity to run some mesmerizing lines, culminating in a try out wide for fullback Mark Watson. Daniels slotted the conversion and Horley’s season was under way.

Horley received the restart cleanly and new captain / number 8 Steve Parsons showed great strength as he strode up the park, swatting of would-be tacklers in his wake. When he was finally brought down, his supporting forwards once again stabilised the platform for scrum half Andy Watson to ship to Daniels. A well rehearsed dummy scissors put centre Alex Smith through a gap, who shipped to winger Ade Corcoran before Watson Jnr popped up inside to receive a well-timed pass and dive over the line. Again Daniels added the extras and Horley were 14 points up in the first ten minutes.

Whilst Horley remained dominant for much of the half, the 27th Regiment were never far behind, creating their own opportunities and scoring their own points with flair and passion. At half time, Horley had accumulated a 26-12 lead through further tries from giant second row Ciaran Overall and super-centre Jack Pellen. 

Horley did not relent in the second half, although the pace of the game appeared to take it’s toll on the speed and quality of defence, and continued to add to their tally. Parsons smashed through from the back of a ruck and scored in the corner, both Watsons scored their second try and newcomer Michael Gurton scored his first ever try, adding an over-the-top celebration to the affair. Daniels continued to kick the conversions and Horley ran out 57-24 winners.

On Saturday, Horley played host to a newly promoted Ditchling side who play in the league above the Griffins. However, Horley have ambitions of another promotion themselves and fear no team on the pitch, especially having beaten Ditchling in the same fixture last year.
Ditchling kicked off and immediately hit Horley hard, controlling the ball well through numerous phases of rucks and mauls. A rock solid Horley defence prevented Ditchling from making any serious ground until a testing chip through from the Ditchling fly-half rebounded off two players and their chasing centre managed to hack the ball on and score under the posts.
Brushing away the lucky try, Horley came back with increased ferocity and were soon playing the game deep in the Ditchling 22. Time and again, Horley were camped on the Ditchling try-line but could not cross the whitewash. It took a moment of magic from the entire team, with the forwards crashing it up whilst retaining the ball before releasing to the backs. The ball was shipped through the hands and centre Ian Husband dived over the line on the far corner to score Horley’s first points.
Horley kept up the pressure but it was Ditchling who found the next opportunity and once again scored under the posts five minutes later, stretching their lead to 9 points.
Not the team to accept defeat, Horley came straight back and spent the remainder of the half applying pressure in the Ditchling half. Too many opportunities went begging, but Horley were eventually rewarded for their hard work with a try through captain Steve Parsons, who crashed over the line in the corner. This time, Daniels struck the ball cleanly and picked up the extra points, leaving Horley trailing by 2 at half time.
The second half followed a similar pattern, with Horley applying all of the pressure but unable to add to their points tally. In a rare visit to Horley’s half, Ditchling were able to score under the posts again when the referee found himself on the wrong side of the scrum and blocked two would-be-tacklers.
Trailing by 9, Horley had 10 minutes left to reverse the outcome and immediately attacked the Ditchling half. Although they had many breaks, Horley were playing individually and Ditchling easily stopped the attacks, until a well-worked phase drove Horley towards the try line and flanker Martin Simmonds took a clean ball from scrum half Watson, rounded two players and dived over the line.
With minutes left and still trailing by 4, Horley went straight back up the pitch and worked together as a team to prevent Ditchling from stealing the ball. The united phases were too much for Ditchling to handle and they eventually gave away a penalty 5 metres from their line. Parsons took a quick tap and crashed over the line to score the try in the bottom corner and put Horley in the lead for the first time in the match. The final seconds ticked away and as the final whistle was blown, Horley were triumphant by the smallest of margins – 22-21.
Horley were delighted with the win, although there were areas of their game that they need to work on at training and improve if they wish to pursue another championship title. 

 Griffins Back to Winning Form - 05/03/11

Horley have had a difficult start to 2011, with several losses against teams that they had beaten earlier in the season. The league losses in January and February saw the Horley team drop from first place in the league to third and out of the promotion zone. On Saturday, the Griffins knew that if they did not improve soon, their hopes of successive promotions were doomed. And it was a game against their old nemesis, Sussex Police, that saw Horley return to form and produce a solid performance that should instil a bit of confidence for the remaining league games.

Horley attacked from the first whistle, with number 8 Steve Parsons collecting the ball and embarking on one of his signature runs, smashing through defenders with the ever-present suppo tof his back row colleagues Martin Simmonds and Joe Pellen. Horley retained possession well through numerous well-rehearsed phases and kept pushing Sussex Police back towards their try-line. For the first 10 minutes, Horley were camped in the opposition 22 and looked certain to open the scoring. However, a foolish penalty gave Sussex Police an opportunity to clear their lines, followed by a good lineout and some clever running, and before Horley knew what was happening, the opposition had scored a try, completely against the run of play, and Horley were somehow losing 5-0.

The try went unconverted and Horley sprinted back to half way, determined to improve quickly. Fly half Jon Daniels kicked the ball deep into opposition territory and the forwards showed great speed and physical presence to isolate the Sussex Police runner and turn the ball over. Scrum half Kent Tristram sent a long ball out to Daniels who spotted a gap in the opposition defence and sprinted through to score a try for Horley. Daniels converted his own try and Horley took the lead, vowing not to lose the advantage again.

Moments later, following some magnificent forward play, rucking and mauling their way towards the try line, number 8 Steve Parsons picked up at the back of a ruck and dived over the line to score with half of the Sussex Police pack on his back.

However, Sussex Police aren't the kind of team to lay down and accept their fate and they came back hard from the restart. Despite Horley's great defensive display, the opposition eventually managed to cross the line and Horley went into the half time break with just a two point lead despite having spent 90% of the first half in Police's half. Horley also had to say goodbye to Parsons at half time, having received a kick to the head in the final play of the half which opened up a long gash over his eye and required immediate hospital attention.

The second half followed a very similar pattern to the first, with Horley dominating both possession and territory but unable to increase the winning margin. A great try from flanker Joe Pellen, stealing the opposition lineout ball and crashing over the line, was cancelled out by a runaway score by the Police, followed by another try which brought them once again within 2 points.

Superb running from full-back Andy Watson all day created numerous opportunities for Horley and wingers Ade Corcoran and Andy Pitcaithly gave great support as well as demonstrating their own attacking prowess on many occassions. However, it was a magnificent solo try by hooker, Stu Stodart that gave Horley the winning margin as he danced around defenders and ran like a winger to score under the posts. At the final whistle, Horley had smashed out a 27-20 win and more importantly stay in contention for promotion.

It was a great team performance where every single player on the park contributed to the performance and win. From front rowers Chris Maguire, Stu Stodart, Rob Houliston and Ash Johnston, through the 2nd row engine room of Ciaran Overall, Chris Williams and Simon Trevaskis, and to the back row of Pellen, Parsons and Simmonds, the forwards dominated the opposition and gained territory all afternoon. Likewise the backs of Tristram, Daniels, Clark, Pellen, Corcoran, Pitcaithly, and Watson played a very physical game, tackling everything and running some intelligent lines.

In the week that Horley collected their team of the year award at the East Surrey & Sussex Sports Awards, morale has been raised again and the Griffins have the scent of success in their nostrils once again.

Horley Take Revenge on Bognor - 08/01/11

After a break of over a month due to the snow and Christmas break, Horley were nervous that such a long gap could have a damaging effect on their return to action and their battle for the league title. With three sides on equal points at the top of the table, the league is wide open and surprise results means that no team can be too confident.

In the away fixture in November, Bognor snuffled out Horley's attacking prowess and managed to secure a 10-7 win over the Griffins. Horley were determined to to seek retribution and the team's mind was set on nothing less than a convincing win.

Having started the last few games slowly and allowing the opposition to get their heads up, Horley vowed to begin at 100% and did not disappoint. From the kick off, Horley's forwards surged into the Bognor half and forced Bognor to make a rush clearance, gaining very little ground and handing the attack back to Horley. Following much work on the lineout, Joe Pellen found Chris Williams with a great lineout, and the Horley pack formed a brilliant rolling maul towards the try line. Multiple phases showed control and patience on Horley's part as they faced off against Bognor's solid and experienced players. As Horley drove well into the Bognor half, scrum half Tristram released the ball to Jon Daniels who ran a well rehearsed move in the backs and put full back Andy Watson, who had a magnificent game, through the gap to break the Bognor line. However, Watson still had plenty to do and zig-zagged his way through the remaining defenders to score a brilliant try and open Horley's scoring account.

Horley dominated throughout the first half, with the forwards providing the hard-fought groundwork for the backs to show some true flair, speed and lethal execution of moves. Flankers Joe Pellen and Martin Simmonds along with number 8 Steve Parsons crashed and bashed their way through the defence, gaining vital yards and keeping the opposition on the back foot. Second rows Chris Williams and Ciaran Overall demonstrated how their partnership has developed in the first half of the season, reading each other like brothers and showing speed that defies their imposing frames, to haunt the Bognor team. The front row of props Ash Johnston and Jason Davies and hooker Stu Stodart provided an unmovable platform, with Stodart running like a winger when he wasn't smashing up through the forwards.

The backs, who have become renowned for their athleticism, inventiveness and power, found their form again and caused the opposition no end of problems. From scrum half Tristram, through Daniels at fly half, centres Matt Clark and Jack Pellen to wingers Andy Pitcaithly and Ade Corcoran and full back Watson, the defence were left standing and mesmerised by the skill on show.

More tries came quickly through a fifteen man effort and at half time Horley had secured a 31-0 lead through tries from Steve Parsons, Kent Tristram, Stu Stodart a second from Andy Watson plus conversions from Jon Daniels.

The second half was a completely different affair, with Bognor bringing on a barrage of substitutes in an attempt to rescue the game. Horley found themselves defending for long periods, but did so magnificently, snubbing out attack after attack. Rob Houliston, joining the game as a replacement at prop, consistently hit tackles with brilliant technicality and demonstrated pure commitment to the cause. However, Bognor's new team would not give up and managed to score three of their own tries, all of which went unconverted.

Horley refused to lay down and every move from Bognor was met with equal force from the home team. Despite the Bognor onslaught, Horley spent much of the half gainign ground and the half was highlighted with a beautiful solo try from Jack Pellen, who collected a wayward Bognor pass and danced around the opposition before accelerating down the wing to score.

At the final whistle, Horley had muscled out a 38-15 win, keeping them at the top of the league and with serious thoughts of another league championship.

Home Triumph Takes Horley to Top of League - 30/10/10

The position at the top of the league table was the prize on offer to the winner of Horley's fixture with Pulborough on Saturday. Both teams have enjoyed a superb start to the season but only one of them could continue their run after this weekend's match.

There was much talk before the game about tactics, defensive and attacking techniques but as soon as the whistle blew, the talking stopped and Horley let their actions speak for themselves.

As was expected from this fixture, both teams started strong, snubbing out the opposition's attacks with solid defence and close support. Likewise, both teams ran some great attacking lines but just couldn't make the vital break to convert the pressure into points. Horley had the majority of possession and territory for the first 30 minutes, barely stepping foot in their own half, and it was a fitting reward when they finally crossed the white wash to score. A series of tight, recycled balls through the forwards demonstrated how much this team have learned and developed, operating in pods to ensure that the ball carrier always had support to retain possession. Once again, back rowers Steve Parsons, Martin Simmonds and Joe Pellen led the way with both brains and brawn, driving forward at all times. From a superb series of phases involving all of the pack, Number 8 Parsons picked up and smashed his way over to score in the corner.

If there was one slight weakness in Horley's play, it was at the scrum. Pulborough's heavier pack started the game strong and managed to shove Horley backwards in the first few scrums. However, on a day like this, nothing was beyond Horley's capabilities and the pack raised their game to deny Pulborough even the slightest victory one area of the game.

The final five minutes of the first half saw Pulborough's only real threat as they mirrored Horley's try-scoring moves and plays. They crept into Horley's half, then into their 22 and then onto their 5 metre line. The Pulborough hooker crashed over the try line, only to be held up and denied the score by Horley winger Ade Corcoran. Again, they attacked from the scrum but just could not break the Horley defence. Time and again they tried to battle through, first in the forwards and then in the backs, but all fifteen Horley players tackled magnificently, eventually turning the ball over to enter half time with a miniscule 5-0 lead.

The second half was a very similar affair to the first as both teams vied for dominance in key areas of the game in order to grasp some points and move a step closer to victory.

Horley's attacking backs, who usually carve defences apart with their running lines, strength and speed had been amazing throughout the game, but had been covered well by their Pulborough counterparts and had failed to make the breaks that have become such a familiar sight. In a slight change of tactics, Horley realised that the only way to break through would be by stretching the defence with an extra man. Fly half Daniels and inside centre Matt Clark took it in turns to pop and loop, effectively giving Horley an extra man in the line and allowing outside centre Jack Pellen, full back Mark Watson and wingers Corcoran and Andy Watson the space to torment the defence. First of all, Andy Watson was on the receiving end of a great series of passes and he injected soem wonderful pace into the move to score in the far corner.

Five minutes later and another great move saw brother Mark Watson score in the opposite corner. Daniels received the ball from a scrum and ran a dummy scissors with Clark before popping the ball to Jack Pellen and looping. Pellen expertly floated the ball back to Daniels who cut through the first line of defence and committed the full back before popping to Watson, running a wonderful line at full pace. Watson finished the move in his trademark style by brushing off the final tacklers and diving over the line.

With just 5 minutes to go, Pulborough knew that they could not win, but one score would give them a losers bonus point. They attacked hard and commanded the ball well, progressing towards Horley's line. As the final seconds ticked away, flanker Joe Pellen summed up the Horley mentality and physicality with a bone crunching tackle on his opposite number, stopping a Pulborough attack, turning over the ball and showing that this Horley team have got plenty in the tank to keep up the pace for the full 80 minutes and more.

After the game, captain Daniels commended the entire team for what was undoubtedly Horley's best and most complete performance to date. He commented 'There were a lot of apprehensions prior to the game as Pulborough have enjoyed some great wins in the first part of the season against some really good teams. However, the entire team were totally focused and determined, and played a technically near-perfect game. It's great that we scored 17 points but equally satisfying that we prevented such good opposition from scoring any of their own. Our defensive training and attention to ball retention and turning over the ball at breakdowns have really paid offf.'

Next week, Horley travel away to play Sussex Police in the 2nd round of the cup.

Double Win for Griffins - 23/10/10

After a week off from league action and an excellent win for the 2nd team in their cup game vs Chichester last week, both Horley sides returned to their league campaigns on Saturday. The first team travelled away to Brighton and were fired up to stamp some authority on the top of the league.

As the team arrived on the South coast, thunder rumbled from the heavens and the wind cut across the pitch at gale force. Most people would tell you that it was not going to be the day for expansive rugby, but the Griffins had other ideas. From the kick off, Brighton attacked hard but were held back by excellent tackling and covering by the Horley forwards. Horley turned over the ball but were faced with a similarly solid and determined defence. The first 10 minutes of the game barely moved from between the two 10 metre lines as both teams exchanged blows to see who would make the first break. In classic style, it was Horley's full back Mark Watson who scored the first points. Under huge pressue from the Brighton defence, Horley's backs spun the ball wide through quick hands and found Watson hitting the line at pace. He broke through the first line of defence and brushed of the covering tackles to dive over the line.

With the taste for scoring in their mouths, Horley attacked hard from the restart through their well-drilled forwards. Back rowers Martin Simmonds, Joe Pellen and Steve Parsons took it in turns to take the ball on, gaining vital yards and putting the opposition on the back foot. Again, scrum half Tristram chose the perfect moment to send the ball out to Jon Daniels and another well rehearsed backs move resulted in Ade Corcoran power-running his way through for another try.

Horley may have taken the lead, but Brighton were far from beaten. Horley gave away a penalty in their own half and Brighton used the wind to kick deep, giving them a lineout 5 metres from the Horley line. The Horley forwards contested well and managed to drive Brighton backwards, but a rolling move from the Brighton back row caught Horley unaware and the Brighton flanker dived over to score. The try went unconverted but at 14-5, Horley had a lot of work to do to put the game in the bag.

A quick review of errors and Horley were back in attack. The entire front 8 gelled to produce some magnificent play, retaining possession through multiple phases and dominating the desperate opposition. Second row partners Ciaran Overall and Chris Williams created an excellent platform for the back row trio to work from and it was from a great series of drives that flanker Simmonds broke free and sprinted down the blindside, popping a perfect pass inside to supporting runner Mark Watson who returned the pass and sent Simmonds over for the score.

Horley had a comfortable lead at the break but were far from clear and were pleased to have the wind behind them for the second half. Again, it took ten minutes for either side to break through the opposite defence, but again it was Horley who drew first blood. A quick pass from the base of the scrum hit fly-half Daniels in full flight. Running a dummy scissors with inside centre Matt Clark, the opposition seemed mesmerised and left a gap for Daniels to slip through. Changing direction, he rounded the fullback and scored out wide.

More superb service from the forwards and intelligent lines from the backs brought more tries, with scrum half Tristram crashing over the whitewash for his first, number 8 Parsons, who had been electric all day, picking up a loose lineout ball and touching down, plus a second try for both Watson and Daniels, who converted for the sixth time in the swirling wind to give Horley a resounding 52-10 win.

Horley face their toughest opposition of the season next week when they host league leaders Pulborough at home. A win will see Horley go top of the league.

Meanwhile, the 2nd team faced Sussex 3 league leaders St Francis at home. Wearing their new gold kit sponsored by Virgin Active, the Golden Griffins found the form that they have been searching for in the early part of the season and put in a superb performance to produce a convincing win. With four tries from newcomer Ian Husband, one from Gareth Evans and one from captain Baz Edwards, who also kicked a penalty and converted twice, they fought for and earned a well-deserved win by 37-13. The win is not only testament to a skilled and committed team who are quickly bonding and operating as a single unit, but also shows the strength of the Horley squad throughout the club.

Horley Triumphant in Tough Battle - 09/10/10

After a disappointing defeat to league leaders Chichester last week, Horley were keen to resume their league campaign in style this week and looked forward to hosting Midhurst at home. The last time these two teams met was in a friendly two years ago and Midhurst won the ill-tempered encounter 24-19, so Horley were keen to show just how much they have developed in the last two years.

Physically bigger than Horley and sporting several southern hemisphere players, Midhurst came into the game with confidence and their hearts and minds set on dominating the game. What they didn't count on was the determination, skill and strength of a Horley side that have achieved great things against great sides.

Horley kicked off and the forwards chased the ball down, putting immediate pressure on Midhurst and driving them back into their 22. Unable to clear their lines, Midhurst were forced into infringing at the ensuing ruck and gave away a penalty. Horley captain and fly-half Jon Daniels elected to take the early points and slotted the penalty for 3 points. Midhurst kicked deep but were immediately confronted with a dynamic set of Horley forwards counter-attacking and supporting in pods to take the play back into the Midhurst half. Flankers Tristram and Simmonds took the ball on and recycled well until it was time to show the skill of the backs. Daniels and inside centre Clark who read each other like a book ran a simple dummy scissors and Daniels sent the ball out to outside centre, Jack Pellen. Pellen committed two defenders and offloaded to fullback Mark Watson hitting the line at pace, who brushed of three defenders like flies and scored in the corner.

Again, Horley's forwards claimed the kick off and attacked in force. Multiple plays moving up the park involved all fifteen Horley players and stretched the opposition from one side of the pitch to the other. Froma solid Horley scrum in the middle of the park, Daniels ran blind with Watson and Ade Corcoran in support. The covering defence just managed to tackle Watson before he broke their lines, but the supporting forwards ensured that the ball was recycled quickly and sent it in the opposite direction. Jack Pellen danced around two players and shipped the ball to winger Andy Pitcaithly, who ran a tight line to evade the final two defenders to score. Daniels converted and it looked as though Horley had taken control of the game.

However, Midhurst did not see it this way and came back with increased tempo. Managing to retain possession through numerous phases, Midhurst pushed Horley back into their half. Both backs and forwards tackled and defended brilliantly but could not turn the ball over. A moment of frustration crept into Horley's defence and they gave away a penalty on their five metre line. Midhurst popped the ball to their giant second row who charged towards the line only to be stopped with a superb tackle by scrum half Andy Watson. Midhurst tried again with their prop taking a crash ball and again Horley tackled on their own try line to prevent the score. Unfortunately, too many defenders were sucked into the ruck and when Midhurst attacked again, they crossed the line for a try.

Realising that the game was far from won, Horley found a new gear and took control of the game again. As the seconds ticked away, Horley were camped in the Midhurst half but could not break the lines. Again Midhurst illegally handled on the floor and Horley were given another penalty. As the last play of the half, Daniels elected to kick for the 3 points, taking Horley into an 18-5 lead at half time.

Having played so well for the first forty minutes, the half time team talk was quite simply 'more of the same'. Both teams restarted with renewed vigour and the first 20 minutes of the second half saw exchanges of possession, crunching tackles and solid play in the middle of the park. It was Midhurst who broke the deadlock having slowly crept into Horley's half and towards their line they were again awarded a penalty on Horley's five metre line and this time took a quick tap and caught Horley napping, scoring a try under the posts.

At 18-12, the game was there for the taking for both teams and the contest heated up. The constant infringements on the floor by Midhurst frustrated Horley and in a hot headed moment, Kiwi flanker Tristram exchanged words with the referee and promptly received 10 minutes in the sin bin for his comments. A man down, the remaining fourteen Horley players dug deep and managed to raise their game. Yet another Midhurst infringement gave Horley another penalty and Daniels kicked the 3 points to give Horley a 9 point lead.

With just 10 minutes to go, Horley found extra strength and really pressurised Midhurst. Unable to break the Horley line, Midhurst were forced to kick for ground and as their fly-half attempted to chip over the Horley backs, centre Pellen managed to charge down the ball, collect it and sprint the length of the pitch to score under the posts. Again Daniels converted and Horley had a healthy lead.

Horley spent the final minutes of the match assaulting the Midhurst line. After multiple phases of recycled ball the Watson delivered a perfect pass to Daniels who, with limited runners outside him kicked for a drop goal. The ball was struck perfectly but an offside Midhurst player managed to get his fingertips to it and the ball dropped under the bar and rolled over the try line. Two Midhurst players ran to touch the ball down and relieve the danger, but super full back Mark Watson was like a bolt of lightning, reaching the ball before the defenders and touching down for his second try. The Daniels conversion took the score to 35-12 and a healthy win for Horley.

Man of the match went to Joe Pellen, playing out of position at hooker but putting in his usual no holds barred performance to win numerous balls against the head.

Meanwhile, the Horley 2nd team travelled down to Shoreham where they played brilliantly, only to be denied a win by two disallowed tries. The final score was 27-17 with tries from full back David Runacre, winger Ash Ryan, who spun and danced his way around the opposition and showed great strength to get over the line with two defenders hanging off him, and captain Richard Barnes who ran the length of the pitch to get his own try. The performance was magnificent and really demonstrates the strength that Horley have throughout their squad.

Horley Train Steams Ahead - 25/09/10

Injuries and late holidays have been Horley's biggest worry this week, with several key players unavailable for their league encounter with Holbrook. However, the players who took their places stepped up to the mark and played superbly to show the Griffins' strength in depth throughout the squad. The Griffins Den at the New Defence was blessed with a beautiful sunny afternoon and conditions were perfect for Horley to continue their league campaign.

Horley's forwards attacked with strength and dominated at the breakdown, recycling ball and attacking in pods to ensure ball retention. The backs looked in fine form but some uncharacteristic simple handling errors prevented them from scoring early in the match and allowed Holbrook to clear their lines time and again. As soon as Horley had settled their early nerves, the points started to come. First of all, super full back Mark Watson took a ball at pace from Jon Daniels and left the opposition standing as he slipped through their lines and over for the first score

Horley continued to apply the pressure and Holbrook were forced to play defensive rugby for most of the first half. Again, Horley's pressure paid off when winger Ian Husband, who had already made several attacking runs only to be tackled short of the line, evaded the covering tacklers to dive over in the corner.

To finish off the first half, Andy Watson, playing his first game at scrum half, showed great awareness and speed to completely baffle the opposition and score a fantastic try. Horley's forwards won a solid scrum on the opposition 22 metre line and, spotting a gap down the blindside, Watson picked up from the base of the scrum and sprinted unchallenged to score.

At half time, Horley were comfortably winning but hungry for more points. The first half was a well controlled, slightly nervous performance, whilst Horley established their dominance and the second half was the opportunity to put a stamp of authority on the game. The forwards came out and immediately took control, shoving the opposition off the ball and turning over loose ball. Second rows, Chris Williams and Ciaron Overall controlled the engine room well, keeping the ship steady for Horley's dynamic back row to show some flair. Parsons, Pellen and Simmonds tackled anything that tried to break the gain line and showed their own dynamism in both individual and supporting attack runs.

It didn't take long for the forwards pressure to pay off and the backs rewarded them with further scores. A great series of play involving all 15 players ended with a great run from centre Matt Clark who scored under the posts. This was quickly followed by a classic dummy scissors move leaving an enormous gap for Jon Daniels to dash through and score, adding to his tally of conversions. Then winger Andy Pitcaithly who again had been an ever-present attacking force throughout the day finished off another superb move by the backs, after Mark Watson had claimed the ball in his own half and smashed through the opposition to set up a perfect scoring platform for Pitcaithly.

It was fitting that the final score of the game should come from new scrum half Andy Watson. Once again, he picked up the ball from the base of the scrum and threw a dummy pass that sent the oppostion the wrong way leaving a gap the size of the Grand Canyon for Watson to sprint through and score his second.

Another win for Horley, but more importantly a far more controlled and well-rounded performance. If the whole team can continue to develop both individually and as part of the team, Horley should continue their winning form.

Horley Lay Ghosts to Rest - 18/09/10

Despite being crowned champions of Sussex 3 and earning promotion last season, the Horley Griffins had one haunting memory - their one and only loss in the league to Sussex Police. Therefore, when Sussex Police were promoted as runners up, Horley were delighted to get the opportunity for a rematch, especially one so early in the season.

The Griffins trained hard in the week to overcome their weaknesses in the first few games of the season and arrived at the Police's Brighton ground focused on a healthy win and a fine performance. From the kick off, Horley chased the ball and tackled hard, putting enormous pressure on the opposition who were forced to clear their lines. From the lineout, Horley took a clean catch, drove for 10 metres and then whipped the ball out to the backs. The ball was sent through the hands to outside centre Jack Pellen who handed off his opposite number and sprinted to the line. However, the poorly marked pitch with no flags to identify the pitch lines meant that Pellen raced over the try line and straight over the dead ball line, giving the opposition a 22 drop out.

Sussex Police came back hard and managed to hold Horley in their own half for a 15 minute period. A foolish handling error at a breakdown gave the Police a penalty in front of the posts and they elected to kick for the 3 points. Whilst infuriated to be losing, Horley read the opposition's lack of desire to go for the big points as a sign of weakness and sprung back to action. However, Sussex Police raised their heads and their game and continued to put Horley under pressure in the forwards. The backs were raring to go, but were not getting the service to break the deadlock. It took a moment of brilliance from full back Mark Watson to open Horley's account. Running a well-rehearsed line, Watson took the ball cleanly from Daniels and broke through the defence. He offloaded to Jack Pellen who committed the last man and popped it back to Watson for Horley's first try.

Now that Horley had got a taste for point scoring, they quickly built up a 28-3 lead with tries from Jack Pellen, and two more from Mark Watson, all converted by Daniels to give Horley a significant lead at half time.

After the restart, Horley were caught napping and allowed Sussex Police to cross the whitewash with a superb solo effort from the Police scrum half. The try went unconverted and Horley resumed play with renewed vigour and determination. The forwards found their form and dominated their opposition in both defence and attack. Every time the forwards won clean ball, the backs rewarded them either with significant ground or more tries. Daniels, Clark, Pellen, Pitcaithly and the two Watsons dazzled their opponents with their skill, set piece runs and all out pace. As the minutes ticked away on the second half, the score tally continued to rise at a rate of a point a minute. Jack Pellen scored a further two tries to make his hatrick, Andy Watson danced over for his own score, having been instrumental in so many others, scrum half Kent Tristram scored a brace of tries, flanker Joe Pellen finished in style and Daniels scored his own try to take his points tally for the game to 23. The running lines and commitment of all players was a joy to watch and the score just reward for a team firing on all cylinders.

At the final whistle, Horley had accumulated a 73-8 lead and had firmly put the memories of the last encounter with Sussex Police to rest. The resounding win was not only testament to the running backs who scored most of the points, but also to the solid forwards who time and again tackled, stole, smashed and drove their opponents out of contention in order to provide such great attacking ball.

All players left the field with a smile on their faces after a job well done and attention moved to continuing their unbeaten run in the league with a home game against Holbrook next week.

Horley Make Statement to New League - 11/09/10

Having earned their well-deserved promotion at the end of last season, Horley arrived at their new ground on Saturday expecting a battle against an extremely strong Littlehampton side who had narrowly missed out on their own promotion last season. Horley have trained hard all Summer in order to prepare for the demands of their new league and were prepared to show their league opposition that they intend being strong contenders for the title this year.

The weather man had obviously been told that it was the start of rugby season and, following a week of heavy rain, the pitch had softened up and was in fine playing form.

Horley captain Jon Daniels kicked off the game and his speedy forwards chased down the kick, immediately putting Littlehampton on the back foot. They cleared their lines but only as far as their own 10 metre line giving Horley a decent attacking lineout. The ball was cleanly delivered by hooker Rolph Young-Hotz to newcomer Chris Williams, towering above the lineout, who set up a platform for the rest of the pack to drive a rolling maul up the pitch. The ball was recycled several times through the forwards before scrum half Kent Tristram sent it out to fly half Daniels who unleashed the backs. Showing the same form that left opposition teams grabbing at shirt tails last season, outside centre Jack Pellen accelerated through the defence and whipped the ball out to winger Andy Watson. Watson headed towards the far corner and was unlucky to be tackled into touch 3 metres from the line. Littlehampton won their lineout ball and once again cleared their lines to the 10 metre line. Again, Horley won their ball and this time released it immediately to the backs. Daniels took a clean pass from Tristram, ran a well rehearsed dummy scissors with centre Matt Clark and then broke through the defence. Sprinting towards the line, Daniels committed the opposition full back and offloaded to full back Mark Watson, who cantered over the line for the first points. Daniels converted and Horley's league campaign had begun.

Littlehampton came back strong through their extremely physical and talented forwards, and managed to drive Horley back into their own 22. They controlled the ball well and Horley couldn't find the opportunity to steal the ball. As Littlehampton released the ball to their backs, they had a clear overlap and threw the ball wide through their backs' hands. Outnumbered, winger Andy Pitcaithly saw the inside centre throw a long miss pass to the winger and pounced on the opportunity. Sprinting straight through their attacking line, Pitcaithly stole the ball in mid air and headed down the pitch. As the covering players closed down on him, Pitcaithly threw a clever inside pass to support runner Jack Pellen, who evaded the remaining two defenders and dived over the line in fine style to celebrate his birthday. Again Daniels popped over the conversion.

The remaining 20 minutes of the first half were made more difficult by a fresh downpour of rain and both sides made handling errors. Both sets of forwards competed fiercely for the ball, sometimes illegally, and Horley found themselves penalised often for infringements at the ruck.

After a great attacking run by flankers Joe Pellen and Martin Simmonds, Horley were awarded a penalty wide out on the opposition 22. The referee indicated that the penalty would be the last play of the half so Daniels elected to kick for goal, earning a further 3 points and giving Horley a 17-0 lead at half time.

The second half began in a similar fashion to the end of the first half, with most of the play centering around the forwards battle. Horley received further penalties and cautions for what the referee deemed to be illegal play and were then punished further when super number 8, Steve Parsons was sin binned for handling the ball on the ground. Littlehampton kicked the penalty into touch deep in Horley's half. Winning their own lineout, the Littlehampton forwards drove Horley towards their line and despite the best efforts of all of the forwards, they were simply outnumbered after making numerous tackles, allowing the Littlehampton flanker to score.

Horley fought back immediately and showed that, even without Parsons on the field, they are a force to be reckoned with. Flankers Joe Pellen and Martin Simmonds tackled everything that moved along with second row pair Chris Williams and Jamie Rand. Equally, in attack they ran intelligent lines and recycled the ball effectively, pinning Littlehampton intot heir own half and snubbing out further attacks.

After his ten minutes off the pitch, Parsons rejoined the game and Daniels took the opportunity to make a substitution int he front row, bringing on veteran prop Ash Johnston for Jason Davies, who had played a valuable role throughout the game keeping the scrum strong. 40 seconds after his arrival on the pitch, Johnston left again with a yellow card following a blatant penalty in front of the referee, putting Horley back down to 14 men.

Horley dug deep and rather than allowing the man disadvantage to affect their game, they found a new level of energy. Having lost their front row and facing a real dilemma at the scrum, flanker Simmonds went beyond the call of duty and stepped up to prop, topping off what had already been a fine performance.

With 20 minutes to go, it was time for the Horley backs to stretch their legs again, and they did so in fine form. A quick ball out found it's way to Jack Pellen running at full pace, who broke through the first line of defence with ease. He shipped the ball out to Mark Watson who continued the run at pace, before offloading to younger brother Andy Watson on the wing who finished the move in style.

More dynamic play from the forwards gave Horley another half chance minutes later and, following some excellent play from the centresClark and Pellen, it was time to watch the Watson show again. Mark ran a beautiful line up the touch line, before popping the ball to Andy, who skipped around two defenders before offloading back to Mark for his second try of the game.

With seconds to go, Littlehampton won a scrum and the referee declared that it would be the last play of the game. Littlehampton attacked through their backs but were tackled on the 5 metre line and Horley turned over the ball. The referee blew his whistle following an accidental offside and Horley celebrated the win. However, the referee changed his mind and declared that it wasn't the last play of the game. Littlehampton took full advantage of the confused Horley team and won their scrum ball easily before running in an unchallenged try.

It was a comprehensive win for Horley in their first league outing and, despite chastising themselves for allowing Littlehampton the last try, the whole team were pleased with their performance and result. Martin Simmonds was awarded Man of the Match following an all round great performance which included a brave 10 minute stint in the front row.

Meanwhile, Horley's newly formed 2nd team travelled away to Horsham in their first league outing. Fielding a lot of newcomers in their ranks, the Horley team played an excellent game against opposition that have already been tipped to win the league, and were unlucky to lose the match 45-5. Captain Richard Barnes praised the entire team for a spirited and well drilled performance, naming young 2nd row Michael Love as Man of the Match. With the strength in depth of players and many talented new stars, this looks like the start of a great season for Horley RFC.

Travelling Side Witness New Strength of Horley - 28/08/10

Horley began the new season, at their new home ground in Court Lodge Road, in the same devastating form that saw them crowned Sussex 3 league champions last season. Looking as if they had been playing together all through the summer, the Griffins played some outstanding running rugby and controlled the game from the first whistle.

Horley have attracted a lot of new players throughout the summer months and used this first game of the season to give everyone a run out. Regardless of playing experience, every single player took to the field and demonstrated ability, skill and team spirit. It only took five minutes for Horley to open the scoring, with winger Andy Pitcaithly, returning from a shoulder injury, finishing of a move started by full back Mark Watson. This was quickly followed by a sniping run by flanker Joe Pellen, desperate to get on the score sheet before his brother and last season's top try scorer, Jack.

Captain Jon Daniels was next to cross the whitewash, running close support to another scorching Watson run and beating the opposition to dive over the line onto the loose ball. Horley switched off for the final 15 minutes of the first half, making unnecessary and uncharacteristic mistakes and, despite the comfortable lead they had secured, it was clear that much more was required to make this satisfying game.

The second half saw fresh legs and a renewed hunger from Horley, with forwards and backs gelling to create a formidable force in attack and a solid wall in defence. It was inevitable that more tries were coming every point was earned by a united team effort. Doc Smith, who played in three different positions during the game, ran beautiful ines and was rewarded for his efforts with a try soon after the break. Then Andy Watson, brother of Mark and playing his first ever game of rugby, showed great awareness by chasing up a long kick and putting enough pressure on the opposition to force a mistake and collect the loose ball before sprinting down the middle of the park for a great solo try (although brother Mark was at his side offering constant support). Scrum half Richard Barnes also saw the fruits of his labour as he dived over. Two other newcomers, David Runacre on the wing and 'Spud' as prop, also celebrated their Horley debuts with tries.

To finish off a great performance from his team, Daniels used the last play of the match to score his second try to go with his eight conversions. Daniels called for number eight Steve Parsons to run an inside line and take a short pop pass in order to put him in space an in sight of the line. However, a confused Parsons ran an outside line but took the defence with him, leaving an enormous gap for Daniels to canter through and score under the posts.

In a game full of so monay debutants and notable performances, it is difficult to highlight individual performances. Although man of the match went to Mark Watson for a magnificent game, Michael Love playing his first game at prop put on a superb display, as did all of the new players, alongside the Horley regulars. There are great things to come this season!

Brighton Feel Force of On-Fire Horley - 27/03/10

Having returned victorious from their tour to New York the previous weekend, the Horley Griffins were focused on their three remaining league fixtures, beginning with a well-drilled and respected Brighton side, currently placed third in the league.

Despite Horley’s dominance over the league throughout the season, there is nothing separating the top three sides and the title could easily be snatched away from them if they lose focus for just one game. To ensure that minds and bodies were ready for the game, Horley took to the field an hour and a half before kick off to warm up thoroughly and to run through some familiar moves.

By kick off, Horley were chomping at the bit and began the game at lightning pace, driving their opposition deep into their own half and forcing them to clear their lines. The ball was taken cleanly at the halfway lineout by number 8 Steve Parsons and presented cleanly for returning scrum half Alex Smith to spread wide. Fly half Jon Daniels sent the ball along the line and a fine display of running rugby was completed by winger Ade Corcoran diving over in the corner for the first points.

Brighton came back hard and managed to find some gaps in the usual rock-solid Horley defence. It was Horley’s turn to clear their lines and the chance to do so was provided by a superb steal in the maul by Kent Tristram, playing flanker rather than his usual position in the backs. Parsons again snaffled the opposition lineout ball and the entire pack proceeded to drive the ball further up the park. On the opposition 22, Smith released the ball to Daniels, who had called a simple dummy-scissors move in the backs. The confused opposition went for the wrong man and Daniels slipped through the gap to score under the posts.

Once again, the forwards gained the hard yards from the kick off, displaying great support play and ball retention. The front row of Alex Barkley, Jason Davies and Ash Johnston created a solid platform for 2nd rows Ciaran Overall and Angelo Ferguson to drive the machine forward. As always, the formidable Horley back row of Joe Pellen, Parsons and Tristram were seen everywhere on the park, making crunching tackles, darting runs and crucial turnovers to keep Horley on the front foot.

With the forwards supplying so much ball, the backs were able to keep the game in Brighton’s half and attacked with determination at every opportunity. Before the half time whistle, Horley had increased their lead with a beautiful solo try from Mark Watson, who collected the ball in his own 22 and ran the length of the pitch, zig-zagging from left to right, chipping the ball over the final defender and collecting the bouncing ball to score under the posts. Daniels scored his second try and the final play of the half also saw Corcoran score his second, displaying great strength through several attempted tackles before crashing over the line.

The second half was a similar affair to the first, with Horley dominating in attack and cutting short any opportunities Brighton had through intelligent defensive cover, all fifteen men putting in crunching tackles and supporting at the breakdown. Brighton put up a valiant effort to contain Horley, but the floodgates opened with 20 minutes to go.

Having created so many opportunities throughout the game, Tristram was keen to get on the score sheet and scored two magnificent tries that demonstrated his pace as well as his strength. Corcoran also grabbed a further two tries bringing his tally to four for the game and super-centre Jack Pellen grabbed himself a trademark score with a powerful run down the middle of the park, bringing his total for the season to 31 tries.

After 80 minutes, Horley had won the game 65-0, taking them one step closer to their first league title in their first year of competitive rugby.

Holbrook Victory Brings League Title Closer - 13/03/10

On a glorious Spring day, Horley played their best and most impressive game of the season against an extremely well-drilled and competent Holbrook side, who were also chasing promotion.

Despite having beaten Holbrook at the beginning of the season, the Griffins were fully aware of the importance of this game and have also seen Holbrook's impressive results in their league campaign. Training has been focused on recycling forward ball, ensuring that Horley can compete through multiple phases, retaining possession before unleashing the backs. This training focus paid huge dividends during Saturday's games and demonstrated Horley's strength throughout the squad.

The game started at an alarming rate and Horley were caught napping as Holbrook powered down the pitch. The first five minutes of the game had Horley camped in their own 22 and an unforced error gave Holbrook a scrum on the Horley 5 metre line. Focus, concentration and brute strength prevented Holbrook from takng the first points and Horley cleared their lines to give Holbrook the lineout on halfway. With number 8 Steve Parsons and second row Robin Nash towering above the opposition, Horley stole the lineout and quickly fed it out to scrum half Kent Tristram. Tristram spread it out to fly half Daniels who was isolated by the quick Holbrook defence and had to take it on himself. Having broken through the Holbrook forwards, Daniels was faced by the last line of defence and chipped the ball over, regathering the ball after a lucky bounce, handing off the two final defenders and scoring in the far corner. The stage was set, the gauntlet laid down and it was clear that this game was going to be a tough one.

There was no time for Horley to relax, and once again Holbrook attacked with ferocity, forcing Horley back into their 22 again. Once again, Horley weathered the storm and retained possession, eventually spreading the ball wide to the backs. A simple miss move in the centres gave full back Mark Watson the kind of half-gap that he adores. Taking the ball at pace, Watson left the defence grabbing at mid-air and sprinted down the pitch, only changing his course to swerve around the opposition full back and scoring under the posts.

At 12-0, both teams knew that this game was very much up for grabs and their ensued a fierce battle between the forwards in midfield. Horley suffered a huge blow when talisman number 8 Parsons, who always puts his whole body on the line, suffered a neck injury and had to leave the field. A quick shuffle in the forwards moved Ciaran Overall to number 8 and utility forward Matt Dockray came on in the second row. Overall relished his new responsibilities and commanded his forwards well, directing them at the breakdown and steering the ship during the scrums. Horley continued to dominate at the rucks and it was superb to see the forwards operating as an eight man unit. Flankers Joe Pellen and Martin Simmonds were awesome throughout the game, putting in thunderous tackles to stop the Holbrook attack and attacking with style and pace.

Thanks to the efforts of the forwards, the Horley backs received clean and useful ball and capitalised on every opportunity. Just before half time, Watson was again given the opportunity to stretch his legs and again covered half the pitch to score his second try in true style.

19-0 at half time and there was an aura surrounding the Horley team of pure desire and determination. Despite having a bench full of capable and talented substitutes, Captain Daniels could not find any reason to replace any member of the team in view of the effort being shown by all.

The second half followed in similar style to the first 40 minutes, with Holbrook attacking hard and Horley snubbing every attack with calculated precision. It was an uncharacteristic mistake from the Horley backs that gave Holbrook their break, their centre fly-hacking a loose ball and racing over for the score.

Disappointed with their momentary lack of concentration, Horley came back immediately and, thanks to the efforts of Messrs Pellen and Simmonds in the loose, the Horley team were soon watching Watson's heels again as he went over for his hatrick.

Having played an excellent collective game so far, it wasn't expected that the Horley forwards could offer more. But more they gave! All of eight of them were near faultless, understanding their capabilities and their individual roles to create a formidable unit. In particular, the scrum found an extra burst of power and Horley began to drive the Holbrook pack back. A superb scrum in the Holbrook half gave the backs another perfect platform for attack. However, another unforced mistake coupled with great pressure from the Holbrook backs allowed Holbrook a clear run in two score their second try.

Determined to make amends and to reward the forwards for their efforts, the Horley backs stepped up an unseen gear and it was fitting that the season's top try-scorer Jack Pellen should finish the game with a wonderful run, handing off three players to dive over in the corner for his 30th try of the season.

The whistle blew shortly after to signal the end of Horley's toughest game and best performance of the season. The final score of 31-12 keeps Horley in the top spot and with three games left to play. There were so many great performances throughout the team, that a man of the match was a difficult decision, but was awarded to Martin Simmonds for his superb performance in all areas of the game.

Horley have a break from their league campaign next week, but rather than relax and nurse their injured limbs, the Griffins are travelling to New York to play games against two excellent American sides - the Gotham Knights and Village Lions.

Horley Return to Form - 06/03/10

It's been a tough start to 2010 for the Griffins, having lost their first game of the season to league title rivals Sussex Police and being knocked out of the Sussex Shield in the semi-final to an excellent Brighton University side. Appalling weather conditions have also played their part in a disjointed start to the year.

The entire squad have trained hard in a bid to find the form that saw them winning every encounter before Christmas and this weekend saw a determined Horley side travel down to Bognor for another league game, with their hearts and minds firmly set on a win.

After their long drive, the Horley team were keen to stretch their legs and immediately showed their determination from the kick off, with Martin Simmonds and Joe Pellen chasing down the kick and preventing Bognor from attacking out of their half. Excellent rucking technique turned the ball over to Horley and scrum half Kent Tristram quickly sent the ball out to the backs. Quick hands sent the ball along the line to winger Ade Corcoran who accelerated around his opposite number and scored the first Horley try within two minutes.

The stunned Bognor side replied with force and showed that they were also in this game to win, retaining multiple phase ball through their well-drilled forwards. However, Horley held firm with a rock solid defence and picked their opportunities to change the pace of the game, sending Corcoran over for his second try just minutes after his first..

Horley have spent a lot of time developing their rucking and mauling skills, and tried to demonstrate that their forwards could gain just as many yards as the backs. However, the Bognor pack was formidable force and dominated the scrum and ground contact during the first half. Horley had to work hard just to retain their own ball and relied on the lightning pace of their backs to keep increasing the score tally. The Horley side once again worked their way into the Bognor 22 and it was a great reward for the entire team when prop Jason Davies, who only started playing rugby this season, crashed over the line to score his first ever try.

Top try scorer Jack Pellen, who had been making some terrific breaks throughout the half and distributing try-scoring passes to his team mates, decided it was his turn to get on the score sheet. A well-rehearsed move between fly-half Daniels and inside centre Matt Clark, gave Pellen the space he loves and he burst through the first line of defence before rounding the fullback and scoring under the posts. This signalled the end of a satisfying first half for Horley.

If the first half demonstrated Horley's capabilites, the second half brought all of the elements together to produce a superb display of rugby throughout the team. The forwards began to operate as an eight man unit and, whilst Bognor were still dominating the scrum, Horley gained the upper-hand in open play and countered Bognor's excellent rucking technique. Ciaran Overall, Steve Parsons, Pellen and Simmonds all took it in turns to keep Horley driving up the pitch and recycling the ball. Once the defence had been sucked in, Tristram again flung it wide and another set move in the backs released full back Mark Watson for one of his trademark scorching runs, splitting the defence in two and cantering over the line to score.

Before the game was over, Corcoran completed his hatrick and opposite winger Baz Edwards scored a great try to complete the Horley victory - 41-0. Most encouraging of all, the entire Horley team did not let up for the entire 80 minutes and used every last piece of energy right up to the final whistle. Preventing teams from scoring against the Griffins is equally as important as scoring our own points, making this game a return to form for Horley and helping to exorcise the demons of recent weeks.

It was a tough match and the scoreline perhaps doesn't demonstrate how tight and tough the game was. Horley took their chances whilst Bognor couldn't find the breaks, but Horley give enormous credit to all of the Bognor players for their determination and strength, particulalry their slightly older fullback, who not only moved and tackled like a 20 year old but was also seemingly made of concrete when Horley tried to tackle him - captain Jon Daniels will be nursing some very sore ribs for the next few days!

Next week Horley travel away to Holbrook for a tough league game versus another team contending for a place in the top 3.

Horley Wade Their Way To Victory- 16/01/10

Having not played a competitive game since early December, Horley were desperate to return to league action and continue their unbeaten run. However, the melting snow had left the Oakwood playing fields looking more like a lake than a rugby pitch. Fortunately, several hours of water-bailing by the Horley team on Saturday morning managed to reduce the water by just enough to make it playable and the game kicked off with half of the pitch still under several inches of water.

The conditions made it difficult for Horley to build up any steam and Burgess Hill found it easy to keep up with Horley's superior and quicker backs. Both teams were locked in a muddy battle in the middle of the park, with every glimmer of an effective attack being snubbed out by handling errors or the pitch conditions. It was obvious that this game was going to be about territory and Horley adapted quicker than their opposition, with the forwards rumbling up the pitch through tight phases of rucks and mauls and fly-half Jon Daniels kicking deep into the opposition half to keep them pinned back.

With 15 minutes gone, neither team had managed to break the deadlock, despite Horley's backs making numerous breaks, only to be slowed down in the water and eventually tackled. It came to top try-scorer, Jack Pellen to break the deadlock and he did so in style. Quick hands and smart awareness throughout the backs allowed Pellen enough room to skip around two defenders and dive over the line in the far corner for the first try. The ankle deep water made goal-kicking virtually impossible for Daniels and the try went unconverted.

Minutes later, and Horley were back in the Burgess Hill half and looking dominant. A surge up the pitch from number 8 Steve Parsons, with his back row colleagues Joe Pellen and Martin Simmonds in close support, set a great platform for some more Horley magic. Scrum half Kent Tristram sent the ball out to Daniels who spotted that the Burgess Hill defensive line was staggered. Daniels dummied the charging defence and slipped through the gap, committing the full back and off loading to wonder-boy full back Mark Watson. When Watson gets the ball at pace, there is no stopping him and he easily rounded the last defender to score. Finding an island of ground that wasn't submerged, Daniels converted to send Horley 12-0 up.

However, Burgess Hill were far from defeated and attacked back with vigour. One moment, Horley were in possession in the opposition half when two dreadful handling errors gave Burgess Hill possession and a strong attacking position. It's not often that Horley find themselves defending on their own line and the long Christmas break showed through, as the opposition retained possession through multiple phases of rucks, eventually crashing over the line for their own try. These were the first points that Horley have conceded since October 17 and captain Daniels had some very strong words with his team as they watched the conversion attempt fail.

Shocked back in to the game, Horley stepped up several gears and looked like a new team, retaining possession, supporting and mauling their way up the pitch. Despite being much lighter in the scrum, Horley showed that technique is far more important than physical size, winning all of their own ball and stealing most of the opposition's. This season's formidable front row of Ash Johnston, Tom Monnington and Jason Davies provided a rock solid base for returning lock Angelo Ferguson and his giant padwan Nash to control the engine room, giving options for blindside attacks and back row breaks. Likewise in the lineout, giant second rower Robin Nash and Parsons dominated in the air.

With ten minutes to go of the half, Daniels kicked a long penalty into touch on the opposition 5 metre line, confident that his forwards would win the ball and drive to the line. Hooker Tom Monnington sent a perfect ball to Nash, who collected and presented the ball as the rest of the forwards gathered around for the drive. Parsons took the ball from the back of the maul, spun and crashed forward, with flanker Joe Pellen giving him an extra shove and downward pressure to score the try.

Horley were desperate for one more score before half time, and it was a dual effort from the back row superstars that produced the desired points. Nash took the ball from the kick off and popped it to Parsons on the charge. Parsons went through the defence like a hot knife through butter, even finding time to throw a wild dummy to gain yet more yards. As he ran out of space and confronted the final two defenders, flanker Pellen popped up on his shoulder and took the pass before accelerating into the opposition 22 and evading the covering defence to score between the posts. Remarkably, this was Pellen's first try of the season having been instrumental in supporting and creating so many other tries. Daniels converted and the referee blew for half time.

The freezing water on the pitch began to take it's toll on both sides in the second half and both resorted to kicking for territory in the hope that the opposition would make a mistake in their own half. Horley stayed strong and read the game well, finding space and protecting the ball. Scrum half Kent Tristram controlled the forwards well and harassed his opposite number into a series of mistakes. Tristram pounced on a loose ball from one of these mistakes and demonstrated his own pace as he sprinted half the length of the pitch, side-stepping multiple defenders to score.

Much of the second half was an uninspired wrestle in the quagmire, but Horley stole one more opportunity to increase the margin with a huge overlap on the exhausted Burgess Hill defence. Daniels chipped the ball wide for Watson to collect in mid-air. Brought down inches short of the line, Watson fed the ball back between his legs for supporting centre Matt Clark to dive on and score.

The game ended with Horley 34-5 winners and still unbeaten this season. Next week takes the Griffins away to Brighton to play their biggest league rivals Sussex Police

Horley Win Top of Table Clash - 12/12/09

Horley faced a top of the table clash on Saturday, versus a strong Brighton side sitting second in the league just behind Horley. However, the Griffins once again rose to the challenge as they have so many times before and showed their rivals why they have become such a force to be reckoned with.

Conditions were perfect at Oakwood for a fast and flowing game of rugby and Horley gave the crowd of spectators just that, with a performance full of flair and style as well as gritty determination and well-drilled skills. Horley received from the kick off and began their attack of the Brighton defence, with Robin Nash gaining 30 yards, closely supported by the Horley back row of Steve Parsons, Ozzy Osborne and Rolph Young Hotz. The ensuing ruck was cleverly controlled by the forwards and scrum half Kent Tristram ensured that the ball was protected for phase after phase. As soon as the Horley pack had stamped their authority on the opposition, Tristram flung the ball out to fly half Jon Daniels who sent a long pass out to centre Jack Pellen. Pellen was in usual fine form and smashed through the Brighton defence to score the first try of the game. Daniels chipped over the conversion and Horley were on their way to another win.

Brighton obviously hadn't read the script though and came back fighting hard, not realising that Pellen's try was no fluke and the Horley backs had plenty more up their sleeves. Again, the forwards gained the hard yards, recycling well and never over-committing to tackle situations, leaving runners available to continue the pressure. As Horley hit the opposition 22, prop Ashley Johnston found himself in the scrum half position and threw a neat pass out to Daniels. The captain dummied his opposite man and sidestepped two other defenders before racing to the line and scoring another try for Horley.

Another solid move from the restart created space for Pellen to stretch his legs again and he cut through the defence to score yet another trademark try under the posts giving Daniels an easy conversion. With just 20 minutes gone, Horley were comfortably in the lead but hungry for more. The forwards continued to uphold their part of the bargain with intelligence and strength, whilst the backs tackled hard to snuff out any chance of a Brighton comeback and attacked in force to create more chances. Before half time, Horley had another three converted tries with a classic blindside dash from scrum half Tristram, a magnificent counter attack from his own 22 from full back Mark Watson, and a strong surge from number 8 Parsons, who handed off six defenders to score.

Leading by 38 points at the break, Horley were controlling the game well but Daniels was unhappy with the number of mistakes being made. Despite being unbeaten all season, Horley still have to learn and develop as a team to further improve, and instructions were to use the second half to work on areas of the game that need improvement.

The Griffins started the second half at lightning pace, with flanker Young-Hotz charging after the kick and tackling the giant Brighton lock before he could build up any steam. Brighton managed to recycle but could only kick to clear their lines. Horley won their lineout and sent the ball wide to the backs. Displaying magnificent hands and awareness, the ball was touched by every member of the backs, with Daniels drawing his man before off-loading to Watson, who popped theball out to winger Baz Edwards, who, popped the ball back to Watson before being tackled into touch. Watson headed for the corner and whipped the ball back inside to centre Matt Clark who rounded the last defender to score. The whole move was a superb spectacle that had the entire crowd cheering.

It seemed as though the referee began to find sympathy for the Brighton side as Horley were penalised for some very questionable misdemeanours whilst clear infringements from the opposition went unpunished. Brighton managed to creep into the Horley half and applied excellent pressure but simply could not break through the rock solid Horley defence. Backs and forwards alike tackled and covered defensive positions, determined not to give the visitors any points. Having weathered the onslaught, Horley countered once again and a series of moves that went from one end of the pitch to the other resulted in Tristram scoring his second try.

Brighton were defeated and desperate for the final whistle, but their was just enough time left for Pellen to score his hatrick with style. As Daniels kicked the conversion, the referee blew time on the match signifying another big win for Horley. Not only was it a massive score, but more importantly, Horley did not concede a single point demonstrating their skill in defence as well as attack.

Horley have now played and beaten every team in their league and begin the return fixtures with an away game next week against a Holbrook side who have enjoyed their own winning streak since Horley thrashed them 65-0 earlier in the season.

Bognor Feel Force of Horley - 28/11/09

The heavy rain and blustery wind felt throughout the country this week seemed to take a short break on Saturday to allow Horley to continue their league campaign against a solid and experienced Bognor side.

Bognor travelled up to Horley with high hopes of destroying the Griffins' unbeaten league run, but the visitors' plans were short-lived as Horley started the game in their usual form, displaying strength in defence and intelligent, fast play in attack. Despite the pitch having turned into something resembling the Everglades, Horley's game plan to play fast and flowing rugby soon paid dividends when super-wing Rob Barfoot dashed and darted around the Bognor defence to score the first try within 5 minutes, Jon Daniels converting for the extras.

Horley continued the pressure with superb forward play leading to another well worked move in the backs that saw Jack Pellen smash through for his 18th try of the season. The restart was rewarded with yet another try for Barfoot and within ten minutes, Horley were 19 points up and hungry for more.

The wet conditions caused numerous unforced errors from both teams, creating frustration from the Horley side desperate to score more points. Try scoring opportunities were thrown away as the handling deteriorated and fundamental rugby skills were ignored. After a long period pf play in the middle of the park, Horley once again hit overdrive and attacked with flair as full back Mark Watson hit the line at pace and scored another of his trademark tries between the sticks.

Not to be outdone by their backs, the Horley forwards crashed up the pitch from the restart, recycling beautifully and forcing the opposition back into their own half. Even when the ball was spread wide, the forwards were quick in support and prop Ozzy Osborne took a magnificent short ball to score another try.

Bognor dropped their heads and the first half finished with another try for Pellen, Barfoot, Kent Tristram and Ade Corcoran.

Daniels had stern words at half time about the Horley handling and recycling and the Griffins started the second half with renewed vigour and commitment. In defence, Horley were awesome, with crunching tackles and perfect technique. The result of this power was Bognor losing two players through injury. The visitors soldiered on but could not stop the Horley attack and Matt Clark touched down for yet another try.

Halfway throught the second half, another Bognor injury left them two players down and well and truly defeated. As Horley had already accumulated the maximum number of points allowed in a league game, the Bognor captain admitted defeat and opted to call the game. Though disappointed at the short game, Horley rejoiced at yet another win and their continued unbeaten season.

Horley have now scored an amazing 421 points in the league whilst conceding just 25 points and are in pole position to win the Sussex 3 league, the Sussex team cup, awarded to the most succesful team in the county and are through to the semi-finals of the Sussex Cup competition.

Horley Battle Weather to Defeat Hove - 14/11/09

Horley spent this week preparing, mentally and physically, for what was set to be the hardest league game so far vs Horsham, only to be given a walkover win late on the Friday due to Horsham's inability to field a team.

With a vital league win in the bag, the Griffins secured a friendly fixture with Hove and travelled down to the coast determined to secure another win and continue their unbeaten run for the season. The team were ready for rugby action but hadn't counted on the severe weather conditions that Hove Park had to offer. With 70mph winds knocking people over and bitter rain lashing at their faces, the Griffins took to the field with a mountain to climb.

As you would expect in these conditions, the game started with indecision and mistakes dictating the run of play. Although Horley maintained their usual discipline and control, the far heavier Hove pack drove them backwards and had majority share of possession in the first 20 minutes, recycling the ball well and keeping play tight as they marched down the pitch. Horley stayed calm and it was number 8 Steve Parsons who, following tackle after tackle, managed to turnover the ball and offload to Jon Daniels on the break. Daniels chipped over the Hove defence and raced through to collect the bouncing ball and race over the line to score Horley's first try under the posts. With the gale force wind behind him, Daniels only had to tap the ball to send it flying between the posts to complete the conversion.

Hove came back strong from the restart and once again demonstrated why they are such a force to be reckoned with, with their dominant, physical forwards pushing up the park. However, the lighter Horley forwards more than compensated with their strong tackling and when the ball was sent out to the Hove backs, Horley's backs were quick to snaffle any chance of attack.

As the bitter rain turned into hail, Hove found themselves camped in the Horley 22 and managed to utilise the referees poor visibility through the rain to crash over the line and score a questionable try.

Horley came back immediately and, whilst flamboyant open play was impossible, the Horley super backs started to pull together some tight moves and lines to confuse and dazzle their Hove counterparts. Horley were denied further scores by the desperate defence and some unforced errors until full back Mark Watson decided to stretch his legs. Collecting the ball in his own half, Watson zig-zagged his way through the flailing arms of the Hove defenders and galloped over the line just before half time.

There were no tactics to discuss at half time as the weather continued to worsen and Horley were instructed to keep it tight, safe and controlled.

The second half provided nothing for spectators, as both teams spent the full forty minutes battling in the swamp in the middle of the park. The only positive aspects were Horley's superb tackling skills being put to the test throughout the team, especially after the Griffins were reduced to fourteen men after a series of injuries. The usual stars excelled at preventing a Hove comeback, with Jack Pellen and Matt Clark staying solid in the centres and the back row of Parsons, Joe Pellen and Richard Barnes ensuring that Hove couldn't make a break.

The referee blew the whistle just as the rain stopped and, almost in acknowledgement of the Griffin's win, the sun briefly broke through the clouds. Unbeaten this year, Horley continue to prove their worth to the rugby world

Griffins Sharpen Their Beaks - 07/11/09

Having had two weeks off from their league campaign, the Horley Griffins had used the time productively to train and improve in areas that had been identified as potential weaknesses in the early part of the season. Particularly focusing on their effectiveness at rucks and mauls, the Horley team felt prepared and well equipped to face an extremely strong Crawley side.

From the kick off, the time at training proved well-spent, as Crawley attempted to smash their way through the Horley defence and recycle quickly. Horley snaffled all of their early attempts, and turned over the ball effectively, setting their own platform from which to attack. Both sides held strong, and neither could break the deadlock thanks to rock solid defence. The first 20 minutes remained scoreless until Crawley conceded a penalty just outside of their 22, which Jon Daniels neatly converted to give Horley a 3 point lead.

It looked likely that this game would only be won by the smallest of margins and neither side looked the obvious winner. That was until the Horley unit remembered their text book and began to produce the fine displays of running and rucking that they have become renowned for. From a beautiful move that started with the forwards before the formidable backs were unleashed, it was Horley's war-veteran Rolph Young Hotz, recently back from a tour of Afghanistan, who ran a magnificent line down the wing to score Horley's first try. As a fitting tribute on the eve of Remembrance Sunday, Rolph went on to score a further two tries to complete his hatrick.

Minutes later and Horley were on the rampage again, with Hooker Tom Monnington popping up all over the park to play a vital role in Horley's game plan, showing strength and pace to keep Horley moving forward. Following several phases of well worked play, Horley found themselves camped on the Crawley line and super number 8, Steve Parsons, gathered the ball at the back of the ruck and launched his huge frame over the line to score Horley's second try.

Crawley came back hard, giving Horley the opportunity to demonstrate their tackling prowess, with every one of the fifteen players putting in crunching tackles and forcing the desperate Crawley team into unforced mistakes. Backs and forwards blended into one as the Horley defensive line stayed strong and it wasn't long before Horley were back in control and attacking again. Another well worked move in the backs saw winger Ade Corcoran sprinting for the line, brought down two metres short. Horley supported in numbers and recycled, sending the ball in the opposite direction through the backs for full back Mark Watson to glide over the line in his familiar style.

Crawley lowered their heads and before half time, Horley secured another two tries through Young-Hotz and scrum half Kent Tristram, both showing great presence of mind to seize their opportunities.

The second half began in similar fashion, with Horley attacking hard and Crawley defending desperately. Even when in control of the ball, Crawley could not find a single gap in the Horley defence and were forced to kick for territory. This style of play may gain teams ground against other opposition, but giving the ball to Horley's stalking full back Watson in open space is lethal. Time and again, Watson gathered the loose ball and charged back towards the opposition, batting of would-be defenders like flies and creating perfect platform the Horley attack.

A well placed chip from captain and fly-half Jon Daniels saw Corcoran collect expertly at speed and charge towards the Crawley half. Daniels stayed in close support and took a neat offload from the winger, before sprinting towards the line, handing off two defenders before crashing over the line for a try.

Despite Crawley's best efforts, Horley grabbed another three tries before the end of the game, with Young Hotz completing his hatrick in style, Watson grabbing his second with usual flair, and Jack Pellen, who was magnificent in both attack and defence all game, running in his own try with a darting and crashing run.

At the end of the game, Horley had worked a magnificent 58-0 victory and shown their local rivals that they are a real force to be reckoned with.

Once again, there were far too many outstanding performances to single out individuals - everyone on the pitch did exactly what was required of them and more. Daniels graciously accepted his players' nomination of him as Man of the Match thanks to 'an all round complete performance', although his own nominations would have been for several of his forwards who ensured complete control of a tight game, namely Tom Monnington for his efforts in attack, giant second rower Robin Nash for his amazing and selfless tackling and flanker Joe Pellen for his always present awareness in both attack and defence.

Next week, Horley travel to Horsham for another league game and hope to continue their unbeaten run of 10 consecutive games.

Shore-Win for Horley – 24/10/09

The Horley Griffins had a week off from league fixtures this weekend and travelled down to Shoreham for a friendly game. Playing in the league above us, Horley expected a fierce encounter from a respected Sussex side and that is exactly what they got. However, Horley have built their own reputation for rising to the challenge and Shoreham found out why the Griffins have enjoyed such a fantastic start to the season.

Hampered by a 15 mile tail-back on the A23, the Horley team arrived five minutes before kick off and were given just a few moments to stretch off before kick off. The poor preparation showed in the first five minutes as Horley made a series of unforced errors and allowed Shoreham the chance to attack in the visitng sides half. With a rock solid defence, Horley weathered the onslaught and it only took eight minutes for Horley to find their form. From a turnover in their half, Horley whipped the ball out to the backs and the devastating form they have shown all season left Shoreham grasping at shirt tails as centre Jack Pellen stormed through the defence to open his scoring account.

Number 8 Steve Parsons, stamped his authority on the game early on with a clean catch at the restart and a storming run that saw him knocking away would-be tacklers like flies. Parsons offloaded to Joe Pellen who continued the move before placing the ball perfectly at the base of the ruck. Richard Barnes, playing scrum half for the absent Tristram demonstrated his versatility with a pinpoint pass out to the backs and immediately the writing was on the wall as Daniels popped the ball to Clark, who drew his man and popped to Pellen, who broke his tackle and accelerated away, offloading to Barfoot to finish the move and score.

A knock on at the restart gave Shoreham an excellent attacking platform to get back into the game. Their scrum was solid and they won clean ball. However, Horley's backs aren't just scoring machines and showed textbook perfection in defence, tackling man for man and snubbing out hopes of a comeback for Shoreham. A mistake from Shoreham gave Horley possession again and a strong scrum set the platform for another Horley try, as Daniels and Clark ran a simple dummy scissors to unleash Jack Pellen for his second try, zig-zagging his way around the defence in his usual style.

Shoreham then had their best fifteen minutes of the match as they attacked time and time again, gaining little ground but managing to recycle the ball well. They eventually won a penalty in front of the posts and, realising that the Horley defence were too strong, opted to kick for goal. The kick was good and Shoreham scored their first and only points of the game.

Just before the break, another move from the set piece sent the ball wide and Baz Edwards finished the well constructed move with style, staying strong and scoring in the far corner. At the break, Horley led by 24 points to 3 but were hungry for more.

Rather than taking their foot of the peddle, Horley increased the pressure and were rewarded with two further tries for Jack Pellen, two tries for full back Mark Watson, another one for Barfoot and a rare but well-deserved try for prop Ash Johnson, who was always present in support, defying gravity and human biology in his efforts.

Daniels was troubled all afternoon with the strong, swirling South coast wind and only converted four of the ten tries, hitting the uprights twice and watching the ball change direction wildly in mid air for the other conversion attempts. His pleas for people to score a little closer to the posts seemed to go unnoticed as his side continually scored their tries out wide.

Even when the Horley side were forced to play with fourteen men due to several injuries, they attacked with flair and refused to give an inch in defence, frustrating the Shoreham side into mistakes time and again that Horley were more than happy to capitalise on.

There were so many outstanding performances that it was hard to pinpoint a man of the match. The back row of Parsons, Pellen and Young-Hotz were awesome in both attack and defence, covering the entire pitch and stopping every Shoreham attack before it could start. The full set of backs were dazzling in their style and flair, with the likes of Pellen, Watson and Barfoot seemingly unstoppable in their precise and calculated attacking, whilst defending and tackling like back row players themselves. Richard Barnes played a brilliant game at scrum half whilst Matt Clark showed strength and wisdom beyond his 36 years to completely outclass his opposite centre. Newcomer Sam Tester played brilliantly in the second row with Fergie, showing great strength in the scrum, Michael Jordan-esque jumping in the lineout and intelligent open play.

The final whistle signified a resounding 58-3 triumph and eight out of eight wins for a Horley side growing in experience and confidence every week. Another great win for Horley and an excellent outing in preperation for some challenging league games over the next few weeks.

Horley Put Dampers on Police Riot – 17/10/09

Having won their first four league games convincingly, accruing over 230 points in the process, Horley came into the game on Saturday with high hopes of another league win and further increasing their dominance at the top of Sussex 3. Sussex Police, currently second in the league, had other ideas and arrived at Horley’s home ground at the Oakwood School with a set of towering forwards and solid backs.


Horley’s preparation for this top of the table clash had focused on rock solid defence throughout the team, support at the breakdown and well-timed, lightning quick attack that has seen the Griffins backs run in a total of 32 tries in the last four games.


Both teams were desperate to gain the edge in the first 15 minutes and the result was a fierce battle in the middle of the pitch, both teams preventing the other from gaining momentum. It was Horley that began to gain dominance and forced their way into the opponents half with phase after phase of recycled ball and excellent support at the breakdown. After a strong run from flanker Joe Pellen who off loaded to scrum half Kent Tristram, Horley were unlucky not to score when Tristram was deemed to be held up over the line. The pressure from Sussex Police saw a turnover at the ensuing scrum and a moment of foolishness gave the visitors a penalty, which they used to clear their lines and snuffle the Horley attack.


From their new position at halfway, Sussex Police mounted their own attack and threw the ball out to their backs from the lineout. A superb defensive line from the Horley backs put pressure on their opposite numbers and a wayward pass in the centres was intercepted by Horley winger Rob Barfoot. With his lightning speed and fancy footwork, the opposition could only watch in amazement as Barfoot avoided the desperate tacklers and dived over the try line. Daniels converted.


With a small lead, Horley were desperate for more points and the forwards were awesome at winning and presenting the ball to their waiting backs. A well rehearsed move in the midfield allowed Jack Pellen to demonstrate his straight running and strength as he crashed through the defence for another Horley try.


Sussex Police tried to play the territory game, and repeatedly kicked from their own half in an attempt to force Horley into an error. What they didn’t count on was the Griffin’s super-fit full back Mark Watson, who is as happy running from his own try line as he is joining the line. Time and again, Watson collected the ball in the Horley half and counter-attacked superbly, providing excellent platform for the supporting runners to continue the attack.


Just before half time, Sussex Police mounted a tough assault on Horley and managed to win a lineout five metres from the Horley line. Horley defended valiantly and prevented them from scoring three times before their flanker squeezed through for a try.
At half time Matt Dockray came on for Jason Davies in the front row and instructions from JD were clear – more effort at the breakdown but otherwise, much of the same.


The second half was very similar to the first, with play predominantly taking place in the middle of the park, both teams desperate to find the break to score some points. Both sets of forwards were evenly matched in strength, with Horley’s hooker Tom Cornish Monnington winning the war of words and antagonising the opposition with his witty one-liners at the lineout.


The game became increasingly fierce and aggressive as the minutes ticked by and it was Sussex Police that broke the deadlock with a converted penalty kick followed by their second try, leaving Horley in unfamiliar territory as they trailed 15-12.


When they won a penalty in easy kicking range, the crowd were screaming for Horley to take the three points from the penalty, but Horley wanted more. Tristram flicked the ball to Daniels who sent it wide to newcomer Ade Corcoran on the wing. Corcoran showed tremendous coolness, cutting back inside the covering defence to score his first try for the club.


Back in the lead, the Griffins were determined to win and gathered themselves for the last 10 minutes. The ball was caught beautifully at the kick off deep in the Horley 22 by Robin Nash, who crashed forwards with support from the other forwards. The ball was recycled and Tristram flung a perfect pass to Daniels. With the intention to kick and clear his lines, Daniels spotted a gap in the defence and accelerated through it, sprinting up the pitch and into the opposition 22 before drawing the full back and flipping a pass to Watson who was storming up the pitch in support. Watson gathered cleanly and brushed off the two remaining defenders to score under the posts.  
Despite their best efforts, Sussex Police could not break the Horley defence in the remaining minutes and Horley finished 24-15 winners in this tight encounter.


Man of the Match went to the ever present Watson with special mention for number 8 Steve Parsons, who controlled his forwards well, was magnificent in open play and dominated in the lineout.     

Horley have two weeks off from the league as they play some challenging friendlies, returning to action on 7th November versus Crawley. The club and players would like to thank all of the supporters and sponsors who showed up to support the home team

Horley Griffins Smash the All Blacks – 10/10/09

Horley continued their pursuit for promotion on Saturday with a league game against Burgess Hill, the self-proclaimed Sussex All Blacks. After a week of rain, conditions were perfect for a quality game of rugby and both sides gave the crowd of both home and visiting supporters a superb game of running and rucking rugby.


As always, Horley’s preparation for the game saw them chomping at the bit at the kick off, and a textbook take from number 8 Steve Parsons set the platform for a well-rehearsed maul up the pitch. Four phases of recycled ball sucked in the opposition and stated Horley’s intention for an attacking game, before the ball was spun wide through the backs and returning centre Jack Pellen demonstrated that two weeks out of action hadn’t affected his game as he crashed through the defence to open his scoring account. Captain Daniels converted the kick and the game was on.


Again, Horley took the kick off cleanly with a bit of Cornish magic from Tom Monnington and within four passes of the ball, flanker Joe Pellen was clear of the defence and sprinting for the line. Seeing the pursuing defenders closing in, Joe intelligently sucked in the defence and shipped the ball to prowling winger Chris Cole, who finished the move in style with a try.


Unrelenting pressure, skill and style from Horley prevented Burgess Hill from making any ground on the park and further tries followed quickly, with a great move between Daniels and inside centre Matt Clark opening a gap for Clark to stride through, fending off the defence and crashing over the line. This was followed quickly by a trademark romp by full back Mark Watson, seemingly unstoppable as he fended of the attempts from the defence to score his own magnificent try. Both tries converted by Daniels.


Burgess Hill couldn’t cope with the Horley attack and the entire first half was dominated by Horley attack, the only reprieve coming for the All Blacks as they cleared their lines time and again. Jack Pellen finished off the half with yet another of his scorching tries and Horley were comfortably in the lead 35-0 at the break.


Some tactical substitutions at half time saw Rolph Young-Hotz, returning from a tour of duty in Afghanistan, join the formidable back row, replacing Parsons who was silently nursing a knee injury throughout the first half. Matt Dockray bolstered up the front row and Tribs replaced the giant Robin Nash in the second row.


It took a while for the Horley newcomers to get a feel for the game and a clever change in tactics from Burgess Hill resulted in a stalemate situation in midfield. Both sides defended and attacked with equal passion, with possession changing with virtually every move.


It took a well rehearsed move in the backs to break the deadlock, and the best spectacle of the game (aside from Daniels screaming for an antiseptic wipe after he rolled in dog dirt) that had both sides admiring from afar. A perfect ball from Tristram to Daniels gave the fly half space and time to pull a dummy scissors with Clark and pop the ball to Watson, hitting the line at mach speed. Centres Clark and Pellen ran such magnificent lines that the defence followed them, mesmerised, leaving a gap that Moses would be proud of for Watson to stride through and round the opposing full back to score his second try and an easy conversion for Daniels.


Undeterred and with plenty of fight left, Burgess Hill continued to attack with vigour and the remainder of the second half was played in the middle of the park, broken only by Jack Pellen scoring his hatrick in his usual style.


When the final whistle blew, both teams looked fatigued after a very physical encounter but it was Horley celebrating another league win, leaving them undefeated and having scored more than 230 points in four league games, conceding just 10 points.
Horley play host to Sussex Police next Saturday in another league game

GRIFFINS THE CONQUERORS WIN BATTLE OF HASTINGS- 03/10/09

After a series of convincing wins in the league, Horley had earned a week off from the competition and travelled down to Hastings to play Cinque Ports in an alleged friendly game. 
The first month of the season has seen some unseasonably hot and dry weather and playing conditions on the hard ground had left Horley with several injuries in their core 1st XV squad. With just seven regular 1st team players available, the Horley team that travelled down to Hastings consisted of many inexperienced players and required Captain Daniels to make some tactical changes to the usual Horley style of play.


The ‘never give-in’ attitude of the Griffins was prevailant throughout the team and Horley were ready for battle with a game plan based around forward play and a sweeping back row system, utilising flankers Pellen and Rand and number 8 Parsons both in structured forward play as well as first line defence in the backs.


 From the kick off, flanker Joe Pellen collected the ball cleanly and immediately set out his intentions for the game with a powerful run up the centre of the park. Brought down near halfway, the ball was recycled well and scrum half Kent Tristram flicked the ball to Daniels running a blind side move, who cut through the defence before chipping over and seeing the ball trickle into touch 1 metre from the Cinque Ports try line. From this base, the dominant Horley forwards competed for the ball in the line out and applied so much pressure that the opposition were forced to ground the ball behind their own line, resulting in a 5 metre scrum.
At the first scrum of the game, the proud Horley pack were determined to prove their power and drove the Cinque Ports pack back over their line. Number 8 Steve Parsons picked up the ball and was only denied a try by some desperate and clearly illegal play by the opposition flanker. From the penalty, the ball was thrown wide to a prowling Jamie Rand who crashed over in the corner for the first points of the game.


Cinque Ports retaliated immediately and chose to capitalise on the fact that Horley were playing with 14 men by attacking the vacant wing position. Matt Clark, playing out of position at full back defended valiantly with some superb tackling but Horley were eventually overcome by the extra man and Cinque Ports were able to run in an easy try under the posts.


A quick change in defensive cover and Horley were once again on the attack, smashing the opposition in every area and recycling ball well. The Horley forwards were clearly fired up and would not allow their opposition to get a hold on the game. This constant pressure meant that the stronger Cinque Ports backs were not getting the service needed to expose the gap in Horley’s backs.
With Parsons, Pellen and Rand seemingly in two places at once, Horley soon set up another try scoring opportunity and Parsons took a perfect inside crash ball from Daniels to score right under the posts and give Horley the lead once more.  The first half was seen out with more powerful defending by Horley and the half time instruction from Daniels was simply ‘keep it up’.


The second half began at lightning pace, with Parsons running and leaping like a gazelle to collect Horley’s kick off and crash through the startled Cinque Ports defence. Excellent support from all forwards saw the ball recycled well and Tristram spotted a gap in the disorientated defence. He picked the ball from the base of the ruck and sprinted down the blindside to score an early try. Horley were now clear leaders at 19-7 but were confronted with another big problem when their borrowed outside centre known only as Craig disappeared from the field, leaving Horley with just 13 men to finish the last 20 minutes of the game.


Realising that their forwards were out-gunned by the Horley pack, Cinque Ports concentrated on exposing the now massive gap in Horley’s backs and it wasn’t long before a 3 man overlap saw them score their second try.


The Horley team have faced much harder challenges than playing with 13 men and another quick tactical rethink resulted in the back row increasing their workload yet again to cover even more of the pitch. Playing like triplet brothers, Parsons, Pellen and Rand found renewed energy and would not give the opposition an inch to work with. Five phases of crash ball and recycling left the opposition weak around the fridges and another storming run from Rand saw him touchdown for his second try.


Horley kept up the pressure and were 2 metres from the opposition line when a loose ball was turned over and thrown out to the Cinque Ports backs. With six of them attacking three Horley defenders, they ran the length of the pitch and scored an easy try to bring them within three points of Horley.


The final 5 minutes saw Horley defending time and again as Cinque Ports desperately tried to snatch the win. It was a fitting end to the game that a huge tackle from Pellen in midfield saw the Cinque Ports centre knock on the ball and the referee blew his whistle.
Whilst Horley’s superb back row were undoubtedly the heroes of the game, every Griffin on the pitch played out of their skins to overcome the odds and secure an excellent win.

The Griffins travel to Burgess Hill next week to resume their league campaign, hopefully with a full compliment of players returning from injury.

 

GriffinsSteam Ahead - 26/09/09

It was another sweltering September day when Horley turned up the heat in a bid to stamp their dominance on the top of the league and continue their unbeaten run. The Griffins travelled away to Barns Green with high hopes of another high-scoring win, and the lads did not disappoint, with five tries from super-winger Rob Barfoot, a hatrick for captain Jon Daniels plus nine out of ten conversions, and a brace of tries for the Stalking Horse, Mark Watson..

Not wanting to give their opponents a sniff of a chance, Horley started the game at full pace, with a clean catch from No 8 Steve Parsons who stormed forward with excellent support from his back row comrades, Ozzy Osborne and Joe Pellen, to create a ruck on the half way line. From this perfect platform, Kiwi Kent Tristram whipped the ball out to the backs who demonstrated their trademark precision passing and fancy footwork to unleash Barfoot, playing outside centre in place of the Jamaica-stranded Jack Pellen. Like a whippet on acid, Barfoot danced around the Barns Green defence to score Horley’s first try within the first minute of the game and an easy conversion for Daniels. 

Barns Green restarted and once again Horley attacked with precision and aggression, moving up the field through phase after phase of recycled ball and intelligent forward play. When the defence was disorientated, it was once again time to let the Griffins’ backs loose and again it was Barfoot who finished a beautiful phase of play with a try in the far corner which Daniels converted.

There followed a period of play where neither team could break out of the centre of the park until Daniels spotted a big whole in the Barns Green defence. He chipped over and chased the ball into the opposition 22, closely supported by Mark Watson and Joe Pellen. The ball bounced perfectly for Daniels two metres short of the line and, just as he was about to collect the bouncing ball, a Barns Green defender blatantly tripped him with a swinging kick and the referee showed no delay in awarding a penalty try. Again converted by Daniels. 

For the remainder of the first half, Horley continued the pressure, with superb defensive and attacking moves, and were clearly the dominant side in all areas of the game. There were further tries for Mark Watson, who displayed his trademark strength in running to smash through no less than seven defenders to score his try and another one for Barfoot, who was always two feet ahead of the desperate defenders. It was fitting that it was Barfoot who finished the half with an amazing solo try where he collected the ball from a short kick off, danced left and danced right, avoiding all fifteen opposing players, and scorched up the pitch to score his fourth try. At half time, Horley were 42-0 up and on course for maximum league points.

The second half started in a similar way to the first half, with Horley displaying renewed enthusiasm in attack and hungry for more scores. A wonderful set move in the backs released Watson for his second try of the game, once again choosing to smash through his opponents rather than dance around them in yet another inspiring moment for the Griffins.

Despite the massive scoreline, Horley would not relent and continued to demonstrate their well-rehearsed skills in both the forwards and backs, with impeccable set pieces and intelligent open play. The solid front row of Johnston, Houliston and Davies would not give an inch to their counterparts and the strength of the forwards were just too much for Barns Green to handle. As always, flankers Pellen and Osborne moved around the pitch as if it were half the size and tackled anything not wearing a red shirt. Even when the opposition had control of the ball, the pressure from Horley denied them any ground and forced mistakes. It was from a Barns Green mistake that Daniels grabbed his second try of the game, pouncing on a loose ball at the back of a lineout and handing of the questionable tackles from three players to cross the whitewash.

Daniels’ third try came as a result of a beautiful set move at the back of the scrum. The Horley backs drew their opposing numbers wide as Number 8 Steve Parsons broke on the blind side from the back of the scrum. Daniels looped around and received a perfect off load from Parsons as he committed two Barns Green defenders and left an easy run in for Daniels.

Barfoot quite rightly had the last word of the game, with yet another well rehearsed set move in the backs giving him the space to expertly run in his fifth try. As Daniels converted his ninth kick of the game, the referee blew his whistle to end the game and signal another convincing win for Horley.

Horley also had their second team out for the first time on Saturday for a game against a strong St Francis side. The second team displayed true Griffin spirit with a gritty and determined effort. Despite the prior lack of game time for many of the players, all of Horley’s players were commended for their strength and determination, with several outstanding performances from experienced and novice players alike. Tries from Richard Barnes and Karl Foot along with some excellent scrummaging and open play tackling demonstrate the strength in depth of Horley’s player base.

Horley have already made a huge impact on the rugby world and, with the passion displayed by both teams on Saturday, the future looks very bright.

Horley Continue Winning Streak - 19/09/09

This Saturday saw Horley play their first home league game on a hot and humid Indian Summer afternoon in front of a good sized crowd of local supporters. Both Horley and Holbrook came into the match on the back of strong wins the previous week, and both sides had high hopes of securing another win to stamp their mark on the top of the table. However, there can only be one winner and Horley played a near perfect match, displaying passion, skill and intelligent play to overcome Holbrook convincingly.

In the opening minutes of the game, outside centre, Jack Pellen, opened the scoreline showing his display of fine running to score the opening try, which JD converted.
 
Horley piled on the pressure executing some fine backline moves with Kiwi newcomer, Kent Tristram, who started at inside centre but later moved to scrum half, performing exellently in both posisitions.
 
A mere three minutes later the Horley attack burst through the Holbrook defence allowing winger Rob "Twinkle Toes" Barfoot to score the second try of the game having been fed excellent service by full-back Mark "Stalking Horse" Watson. Another five minutes later from a fourth phase ruck ball Watson turned up the heat to score the Griffins third try of the game.
 
In the 23rd minute of the game scrum half Alex "Doc" Smith, proved there truly was a doctor in the Horley house, to score Griffins fourth try which Horley captain and fly half Jon "The Don" Daniels converted. With just 30 minutes of the first half gone, Mark Watson scored his second try of the game with a fantastic seemingly all to easy run.

Holbrook managed to steady the ship briefly and were camped in Horley's 22 when a loose ball at the back of their ruck was pounced on by Daniels, who then darted around Holbrook players as if they were mannequins and went on a scorching run down the pitch, finally brought down 10 metres from the Holbrook line by the opposition full back.
 
Just before the last two minutes of the first half, from a ball won in the line out by Horley no. 8 Steve "Hammerhead" Parsons, Jack Pellen scored his second try of the game in an effort not to be outdone by his team mate, Mark Watson.
 
At the start of the second half "Unprounceable" Tribbs wasreplaced by Robin "Mutton Chops" Nash in the second row and Horley newcomer Martin Simmonds came off for Chris Cole on the wing. Which just proves the quality and depth of this Horley side that captain Jon Daniels feels confident in replacing players of such quality.
 
Straight away Matt "Lego Hair" Clark ran in a strong try bashing and clashing his way through the Holbrook defence to score, having been abley supported by Kiwi Kent. This was received with rapturous accolade by the Horley crowd. Chris Cole slotted and sliced his way thorugh Holbrook backs finally passing in the tackle to Jack Pellen who thundered over the line with his hat-trick of trys.
 
The Griffin pack dominated this game proving that the mixture of experienced old hands such as props Ashley "Big Crocodile" Johnston and Jason "West London Massive" Davies, along with hooker Phil "The Gudge" Gudgie and talented newcomers such as flankers Michael 'Ozzy' Osbourne and Joe 'That Man Gets Everywhere, There Must Be At Least Four Of Him On The Pitch' Pellen proved to be a winning combination. The Griffin pack outclassed and outgunned every aspect of the set piece and open play, from the ruck to the maul to the lineout to the scrummage.
 
Once again the "Stalking Horse" and Jack Pellen combination, rewarded the hard work of their brothers in the pack to breakdown the Holbrook defence with Watson passing to Pellen, who even though he was brougth down on the line managed to fight his way to scoring another try. Which once again that man with the golden boot, JD, converted.
 
From the restart Jon Daniels proved to his men why he's "The Don". JD caught the ball cleanly and then gained his team at least 60 yards with a fantastic clearance kick. This put the Griffins back in the scoring zone. Horley were awarded a scrummage 15 yards off the line from a Holbrook lineout that was not straight. The Horley pack revved up the engine in the shape of Robin Nash the Slash and Tommy "Devon Cream Teas" Monnington in the second row. The Horley pack drove the Holbrook scrum back 12 yards. They were being controlled by number 8 Steve Parsons like a modern day Ben Hurr at the chariot races. When Parsons was within 3 yards of the try line he picked up the ball at the back of the scrum and blasted over the line to score a magnificent crash-ball try.
 
In the last few minutes of the game the Horley back line executed some fine passing and strong running. That man Jack Pellen cut down the centre of the pitch being tackled just 5 yards of the try line.  Jacky expertly passed the ball out to Kiwi supremo, Kent Tristram who finished the hard work with his second try. Once again JD proved you do not let that man near the H, unless you want him to score, deftly converted Kiwi Kent's try.
 
Horley scored a magnificent home win 65-0.
 
These Griffins had shown to their beloved town that they are a band of brothers who play for each other as true comrades.
 
True warriours every one of them!

Griffins Win First League Encounter in Style - 12/09/09

The Horley Griffins took a short trip down the road to play St Francis in their first league game on Saturday, with high hopes of getting the season off to a good start.

From the kick-off, The Griffins looked confident, rucking the Saints off the ball and repeatedly building a solid platform to move towards the St Francis line. After several phases of excellent recycling oin the forwards, it was time to unleash the formidable Horley backs to see if they had kept the form that they showed last season. They did not disappoint. The ball was shipped quickly and accurately along the line to outside centre Jack Pellen who, within the first two minutes of the game, scored Horley's first try of the afternoon. The try was converted by The Griffins captain and fly-half, Jon `JD` Daniels. 

A mere two minutes later, following a beautiful steal in the line out from Steve ‘Shoulders’ Parsons, winger Rob `Dynamo` Barfoot, motored his way around the St Francis defence, to score Horley's second try.

It looked like Horley were on a mission and before ten minutes had elapsed, Rob Barfoot evaded four defenders to score his second of the match. 

Horley were awarded a lineout from the restart but knocked on, conceding a scrum. The Saints scrum half attempted to chip over from the scrum but was thwarted by flanker Joe Pellen and scrum half Alex ‘Doc’ Smith. The ball went loose and was collected by fly half Jon Daniels who evaded the panicking defence and sent the ball wide to Jack Pellen, who in turn committed his opposite man and popped the ball to Barfoot, who ran in his hat-trick, again converted by the precise boot of Daniels.

The Saints from the re-start put together a ferocious attack on The Griffins defence. On the verge of scoring their wing was brought down in a try saving manner just shy of the Horley goal line, by Rob Barfoot, showing his strength in defence as well as attack. Horley have put a lot of work into defence throughout the summer and the results showed as every man put in a strong defensive effort.

Horley regrouped and began to attack from their own 22, the backs running superb set moves and shipping the ball to Andy Pitcaithly on the opposite wing. Disaster struck as the Saints winger managed to tackle Pitcaithly inside their 22 and a nasty fall broke his collar bone in two places. Get well soon Pit Dog!

After an off-side decision against them, the Horley pack stole the show, by taking back possession in the ensuing ruck and driving the Saints backwards through well-worked mauls. From here Jack Pellen off a chip and chase gained vital yardage up the pitch. The Griffin back-line charged ever onwards, displaying superb handling skills, culminating in a try for full back Mark Watson and another conversion for JD.

At half time, Horley were in a comfortable position and introduced a number of substitutes. Robin 'Christ He Is Tall Isn't He?' Nash, replaced Tribs in the second-row. Rob Houliston took over propping duties from Old Warhorse, Ashley Johnston, who moved to second row, in place of Tommy 'Devon Knows How They Make It So Creamy' Monnington.

The hot sun and an element of complacency crept into the Horley side and Saints battled their way into the game, eventually scoring their first try against a questionable Horley defence.

This score was answered by an angry Jack Pellen, who in concert with his brother, Joe, bashed their  way through the Saints defence allowing Jack to score another try, converted by JD.

The game then became a heated contest in the middle of the park, with both teams making breaks and mistakes in equal measure.

Once again, of a strong set of phases, St Francis stung The Griffins, with their second try, from a gift-wrapped box-kick attempt by Doc Smith, which went straight to the Saint's scrum-half's hands. Bad medicine indeed!

It was time to finish this match and after a stern caution from JD, the Griffins returned to the form shown in the first half. The forwards secured all ball and kept it away from the Saints counterparts. The ball was presented better to the scrumhalf and the backs found their running legs again, sending Rob Barfoot over for his fifth try and an easy conversion for JD.

From the re-start, Jason 'Rock' Davies caught the ball, expertly passing to runner Michael 'Ozzy' Osbourne. Ozzy charged towards the Saints and smashed through several tackles before going to ground and presenting the ball. From there, The Griffin pack rucked the opposition out of contention, creating a solid try scoring platform for Jack Pellen to finish in fine old style. As JD slotted the final conversion, the referee blew his whistle for time, signifying a significant 64-10 win for Horley and the best possible start to their league season. 

Griffins Open The Season with a WIN ! - 05/09/09

On a sunny, but over-cast away trip to local rivals Crawley,  Horley opened the 2009-2010 season, with a well-deserved win.  This opening match was to prove, very much a game of two-halves and a tale of two cities.  Or should that be two Home County towns. 

During the first half, Horley got off to an unsatisfying start.  Crawley attacked the Horley defence, with zeal and aggression, capitalising in full on their weight advantage in the scrum.  At the end of the first quarter, tight-head prop Matt ‘Rhino’ Dockray, in a brave tackle against the Crawley Number 8, sustained a painful broken and dislocated finger, which hopefully will not keep the big man out of the Horley side for long.  He was replaced by West London new-comer, Jason Davies, who straight away made his presence known on his opposite number in the scrum. 

From here, Horley started to gain possession and were putting together some creative play.  From a Crawley put-in in the line-out, Horley vice-captain and number 8, Steve ‘Man of Steel’ Parsons fed the ball through  scrum-half Alex ‘Doc’ Smith who passed to centre Jackie Pellen, who back passed to Mark Watson.  With ball to hand at last, secured by his industrious pack, Watson embarked on a stunning run, from inside his own 22, being brought down just shy of the Crawley goal line. 

Cap’n Jon  ‘JD’ Daniels re-assessed his pack formation, like a modern-day Hannibal.  John ‘Bumper’ Birkin was joined in Horley second-row by ‘I-Have-Heard-His Real-Name-But-Cant-Pronounce-It’ Tribbs.  This plus the placement of Phil ‘Steely-Bands’ Gudge into hooker, alongside Ashley ‘Old Guard’ Johnson, proved to be a formidable scrimmaging and rucking outfit indeed. 

Having a conceded a penalty to Horley, Crawley were punished by the boot of Cap’n JD as the last play of the first half, who expertly slotted the ball between their posts opening the score line. 

At a half-time rollicking, Cap’n JD issued his orders and reminded the Horley Griffins who they were and what they were there for.  To win.  This reporter at one stage over-heard an animated JD shout “Listen Griffins, go back out there and grow a set of teeth… Except that Griffins don’t have teeth, they have beaks….  Well you know what I mean!”   

This rare moment of levity, during the game was shattered when Crawley from a determined rucking attack against the Horley defence proved successful, putting the home side ahead in the first ten minutes of the second half, with their first try. 

Horley fought off relentless assaults by the Crawley pack, most notably Joe Pellen, who in a team of resolute heroes, shined-out and seemed to be everywhere at once, putting in smashing tackle after smashing tackle.  However, sixty minutes into this game, Crawley put together another good example of rucking and mauling, by scoring their second try from a fourth phase ball. 

The Griffins knew they were up against it, so rolled-up their sleeves and marched up the Crawley half, where they set-up base-camp.  For a time.  Crawley once again, however, threatened the Horley line, with a persistent attack, being halted by a valiant defence, from the Horley team, who zoned their line and dug-in not giving one more inch to Crawley.  JD cleared the Horley lines and put his Griffins back into the Crawley half.  From another conceded penalty, JD ran a set-move, out-foxing his opponents and passing to out-centre Jackie Pellen, who in his customary fashion, battered and brawled his way over the Crawley goal line, to score the first of Horley’s tries in the thirty-first minute of this second-half. 

Within five minutes of the re-start, the Horley back-line were off again, with fine running moves from Andy ‘Pit-Dog’ Pitcaithly, Jackie Pellen and Rob ‘Beardy-Weirdy’ Barfoot.  Barfoot displaying that his form from last season has not disappeared during the summer break, but if anything increased, scored a well placed try.  Horley were now back in the driving seat of this derby, going up 10-13. 

With only two minutes on the clock, Crawley attempted another attempt to take the lead.  But a mispass in the Crawley mid-field, allowed Mark ‘Stalking-Horse’ Watson in sliver of an opportunity. Watson gathered-up the loose ball one-handed and went from 0 to 60 in 4 seconds, with a scorching run, worthy of a derby-winner, which he and his mates, The Griffins, certainly were, by winning the game 10-18. 

A victorious and happy gang of Griffins enjoyed a rousing night of celebration in ‘The Kings’ remembering to toast team-mate Rolf ‘The Swiss-Clock’ Young-Hotz, who is serving our country in Afghanistan. 

Man of The Match goes to Joe Pellen, for his display of true grit and determination, an inspiration to his fellow Griffins.

A fine start against a worthy opposition, well-done The Griffins! 

 

 

Griffins Fight for Difficult Win - 07/02/09

While the rest of the country was recovering from the big freeze it was business as usual at the Horley home ground of Oakwood.  With an early kick off due to the England game, there were concerns that the ice would clear before kick off. Play was able to take place, despite the need to clear away a few stray snowmen who had wandered onto the Oakwood pitch.
 
This was to be the afternoon that Horley played host to a formidable East Grinstead side.  From the outset it was clear that the Grinstead men were a very capable, experienced and strong side, who were there to test The Griffins' resolve.  The signature of this game for the home side was to be a grueling battle in the forwards, as the East Grinstead pack battered away in the loose, ruck ball after ruck ball, forcing Horley to defend to a man.
 
However, in testament to this Horley side, the forwards stole good ball in the loose, allowing the famous Horley backs to get a shift on, resulting in a well executed try under the posts, by winger Rob 'I Really Am A Legend, Honest' Barfoot.  This was converted by the steady boot of Jonathan 'JD' Daniels.
 
From here Grintsead retaliated by re-cycling the ball off the ruck, crashing over the Horley line, to even the score despite the valiant efforts of the Horley men to get their bodies between the ball and the ground. The score was converted by their own, slightly more rotund version of JD.  
 
The Horley forwards were discovering that this Grinstead pack was a formidable scrum-machine and one that pushes hard and heavy, as the scrum became a fiercely contested means of re-starting play.  But despite, the Grinstead heavy, drilled unit, the Griffins took it to them, holding out time after time.  Every man jack of them fought with determination, inspired by Captain JD and pack-leader, Steve 'The Wall' Parsons. 
 
Out of this maelstrom, workable ball was made available to the backs, with a stunning piece of play between JD, Matt 'Clarky' Clark, Mark 'The Snow Leopard' Watson and Jack 'The Youth' Pellen, the latter finishing off the wonderful move with a score. Again JD converted.
 
More of the same followed,and it took a mistake at the back of the Grinstead scrum to deliver the next opportunity to Horley. As the ball went loose, Alex 'Doc' Smith hacked the ball through the defence, who were bearing down on him not holding flowers or chocolates but with the Doc's demise clearly being their intent. Doc coolly collected the ball to score another beautiful solo try.  Again converted by JD.  Just what the doctor ordered.
 
From here the Grinstead steam was up.  Their pack time and again, pressurised the Horley Griffins, forcing props, Ashley 'The Bull' Johnston and Alex 'The Persian Prince Charming' Barkley, hooker Buba Johnson, locks Jamie 'I Feel Randy' Rand, Fergy 'Hungout To Dry' Ferguson, back row, Rolph 'The Graf' Von Young-Hotz, Joe 'The Sledge' Pellen and pack-leader Parsons to roll up their sleeves, wipe the blood off their faces and FIGHT!!!!!!!!!!!!
 
Despite their valiant efforts, Horley conceded another try at the worst possible time - just before the half time whistle. Fortunately, their fly half missed the conversion and Horley entered the break 21-12 in front. With the heavy Grinstead pack causing so many problems, hooker Buba Johnson made way for Matt 'The Leeds Rhino' Dockray, adding a serious bit of weight to the Horley pack.
 
Grinstead came out for the second half with their heads up and determined to reverse the scores. In the knowledge that their backs were not as fast, fit or skilled as the Horley backs, they shoved the ball up their jumpers and scored an early try after multiple phases of crash ball. This was converted leaving Horley just two points in front staring down the barrells of a home defeat.  But this side is not for turning and they truly showed Grinstead they can and would hold them back.  This, as already stated, but can not be over emphasised, was against a very strong Grinstead side, who threw everything against the stalwart Horley defence.  At one point this reporter saw a kitchen sink go in!
 
Try-saving tackle, after bone crunching tackle was made by The Griffins, who must have taken inspiration from winger Barry 'The Bash' Edwards, who tackled and fought and generally was a thorn in the Grinstead side, deservedly earning the laurels of 'Griffin of The Match'.  Horley thanks were also offered to newcomer, Chris 'I Will Give You A Nickname Soon' Cole and replacement for Fergy, Michael 'Ozzy' Osbourne. Every player showed that this young Horley team are not just strong and innovative in attack, but can also build a formidable wall of defence to test even the strongest opposition.
 
Horley should and did offer thanks and praise to their captain JD, for his 'practice what you preach' leadership and unerring boot.  After the game, in the words of the Duke of Wellington after Waterloo, JD was overheard to say "That was a close run thing!"
 
Horley won 21-19, a close run thing indeed.  Well done the Griffins!

Horley Give Lesson in the Three R’s – Rucking and Running Rugby! - 6/12/08

Horley travelled away to Burgess Hill, on a clear and sunny afternoon and it soon became clear that the Horley team were motivated and alert to secure a comfortable away win.
 
Scrum half Alex 'Doc' Smith opened Horley’s scoring with an expertly won ball from the back of a steady Horley scrum. Doc ran the first of Horley's thirteen tries that day, blazing through the Burgess Hill defence.
 
From the re-start, it was clear that Mark Fradgely, playing inside centre, would punish the Burgess Hill side, with his ever-strengthening runs.  Time and again, Fradgely broke through tackles, having gained another twenty yards.  The Horley pack supported well, never over-committing to the ruck and re-cycling the ball.  It was from such an episode of play that Fradgely battered through Burgess Hill, to score under their posts.
 
Relishing his role as Horley pack-leader, number eight, Steve Parsons, motivated and controlled the Horley scrum.  It was clear that with his sergeant-major style tones, Parsons marshalled his men in well-drilled fashion.  The Horley pack kept possession, moving the ball from first through to fifth phase possession.  As always, Parsons strong and determined running, with ball in hand secured two more Horley tries.
 
Horley's captain and fly-half, Jonathan 'JD' Daniels, proved he can still run in a scorcher of a try from within his own 22 yard line, re-affirming to the park that he is the complete player and not just an ever-ready boot.
 
The pressure started to show on the home side, who elected time and again to go uncontested in the scrum, then revert to contested.  This very briefly appeared to unsettle Horley, but Parsons kept a tight rein on his boys, establishing the Horley pack dominance in the set and open play.
 
As the second-half opened, it seemed as though the Horley side had not broken a sweat, but were keen to get the ball and attack Burgess Hill with renewed vigour.
 
Now it was the turn of the Horley backs to turn-up the heat. Daniels called and controlled move after move from his backs, giving them the gaps and spaces to really demonstrate their skills. Full back Mark Watson, in his typical fashion, took a scissors ball from Daniels in the Horley 22 and cut right through the middle of the Burgess Hill defence to score the first of his three tries. 
 
A second half change around saw Fradgely, recovering from a foot injury, leave the field to be replaced by Andy Picaithly, who took up the right wing position from Barry Edwards, moving to centre. As was now the Horley way in this game, both of these players, along with Rob 'Bruiser' Barfoot, kept the ball to hand, gliding through the Burgess Hill defence.  Barfoot battled bravely against the home side, who struggled to defend against his speed and fancy footwork but for once, failed to score.  In typical fashion, Bruiser Barfoot left the field, looking like he had just gone three rounds with Amir Khan.
 
Now it was the turn of the outside centre, Jack Pellen to show his mates what he was capable of. Pellen who had played brilliantly in both defence and attack in the first half went on numerous assaulting runs and scored not just a hatrick but four well executed tries.
 
It was even the turn of some of the old guard to turn on the style, with tighthead prop and Horley stalwart, Ashley Johnston running in superb support of fly half Daniels, taking an inside pass outside of the opposition 22 and then displaying his own thirty-yard fleet of foot to score his first Horley try.
 
Special mention must be made of new-comer Jamie Rand, who played in solid form alongside, second-row, Angelo 'Fergy' Ferguson.  Young Rand proved quick to take to the engine-room and went for some fine runs of his own.  Likewise, a solid back-row performance from Messrs Joe Pellen, Ozzy Osbourne, Steve Parsons and Ciaron Overall ensured that the defence was tight and ball was secured to allow Horley the majority of possession. 
 
The front-row, under the watchful eye of Ashley Johnston was rock-solid, with Rob 'Butterbean' Houliston as hooker and Matt 'Rhino' Dochray showing their worth.
 
As mentioned earlier, Captain JD, was certainly on duty that afternoon, by converting no less than eleven of the thirteen Horley tries.  Cipriani take note.
 
Horley won away to Burgess Hill 2s - 87-0.

Horley Take First Tour to Guernsey - 20/12/08

On an over-cast, grey winter Saturday 20th December 2008, Horley RFC flew from Gatwick on their first ever away tour to St Jacques RFC in Guernsey. Despite the early start and Christmas party mood the Horley squad proved themselves ready and able for the challenge ahead.

Having just had time to dump their bags at a hotel it was off to St jacques rugby club for a twelve noon kick-off. From the kick-off, St Jacques relentlessly attacked the Horley defence who proved resolute and solid. St Jacques capitlised off their strong ruck ball to score two tries in the first quarter of the game.

Despite this early bloody nose, the Horley side tightened their defence and resisted the continous assault by the home side. The Horley men proved strong in the tackle and able to blunt time and again the St Jacques ruck and maul.

St Jacques poured up the mid-field, being rewarded with a well executed drop-goal from their fly half. Despite the 13-0 deficite not one Horley head went down.

Horley captain and fly half, Jon (JD) Daniels, barked and cajoled his side, who responded in disciplined and orderely fashion. The Horley pack battled hard agianst their St Jacques opponents being well led by number 8 and pack leader, Steve Parsons.

At times in the scrummage it appeared that Horley hooker, Paul 'Buba' Johnson was engaged in a single combatant dogfight with his opposite number. Buba johnson won significant ball against the head for his side, by contesting for the ball in the put-in.

The pressure cooker atmosphere finally gave, as from one such scrum the ball went out to Rob Barfoot, scrum half, who off loaded to JD. JD fed the ball inside to full back Mark 'Hermes' Watson. Watson showed the St Jacques defenders that like the messenger of the gods, he really did have wings on his feet, by running in a forty yard scorching try under the home posts. JD neatly converted the score to bring Horley within six points.

From here it was deadlock, neither side giving an inch to the other. At times it appeared that St Jacques were entrenched inside the Horley 22 yard line. But the dogged Horley denied them a further score in the first half.

Come the second half, the 2nd row Johnny Birkin changed for Matt 'Rhino' Dockray. Barry 'Basher' Edwards came on in place of Spike Kelly on the wing. Inside centre Ozzy osbourne took over from Rolf Young-Hotz.

As the second half took pace, drama unfolded as Rob 'Striclty Ballroom' Barfoot playing the number 9 shirt, took battering after battering. Finally after taking one crunch too many 'Ballroom' Barfoot was voted off by the St Jacques with concussion, having put up a valiant display for his club.

Steve 'Utility' Parsons, switched to number 9, requiring Rolf Young-Hotz to fill in at number 8. Pack leader was handed to Ashley Johnson who performed well in the role in the time honoured tradition, Rob Houliston played well on the flanks. Angelo 'Fergy' Ferguson assumed the role of jumper in the line out winning good ball.

From here it was more of the gutsy Horley performance.. Before the end of the third quarter St Jacques bashed through the Horley defence to go over the line from a sixth phase ball.

Horley upped the anti but not over-committing to the set, by making the ball king and shipping his majesty wide.

Off a Horley scrum flanker Joe Pellen made a darting 15 yards. Joe Pellen passed in the tackle to JD who sold St Jacques a classic dummy, with a miss-move to inside centre Matt Clark and passing wide to Jack Pellen. From here 'Powerhouse' Jack ran a 30 yard sprint to score Horley's second try.

Clearly St Jacques were determined that Horley would not secure an away win, but hammered forward, scoring the last try of the game.

Both spectators and players agreed that the 30th anniversary game for St Jacques RFC and Horley RFC's first ever tour game was played in skillful, competative and fair fashion.

St Jacques won 25-12 but the touring Horley Griffins had nothing to feel but pride in their club and mates.

Horley Tourists -

1 Ashley Johnston
2 Paul Johnson
3 Alex Barkley
4 John Birkin
5 Angelo Ferguson
6 Joe Pellen
7 Michael Osbourne
8 Steven Parsons
9 Rob Barfoot
10 Jonathan Daniels
11 Barry Edwards
12 Jack Pellen
13 Matt Clark
14 Andrew Pitcathley
15 Mark Watson
16 Patrick Besiris
17 Dave Kelly
18 Rolf Young-Hotz
19 Robert Houliston
20 Matthew Dockray

When The Saints Went Marching Home! - 22/11/08

It was a cold early kickoff at the Horley home ground of Oakwood on what proved to be a disappointing day for the national side. This gloomy start appeared to be Horley's shared fate with an early first blood try to St Francis. The St Francis pack barrelled through the Horley defence who appeared to be sleeping due to the early kick off.

However, the Horley side mustered their defence and within a further ten minutes Horley scrum half, Alex "Doc" Smith scored Horley's first try from a darting run, having picked up the ball from the back of the ruck.

Following the restart, fullback Mark Watson, took possession of a high ball, running strongly down the middle of the park dancing through the St Francis defence, to put the ball down in the middle of the posts, which captain, Jon Daniels, neatly converted.

At half time with Horley nosing ahead with a mere try and conversion lead, Horley captain, Jon Daniels, galvanised his troops with a shellalacking of a team talk.

It was a resolute and determined Horley side that came out in the second half looking refreshed a hungry for ball. The Horley scrummage solidified gaining clear possession out to scrum-half, Alex "Doc" Smith, who offloaded in the tackle to Jack Pellan. Pellan made good use of this ball by running an alarming foot chase, through St Francis narrowly avoiding tackles from no less than three Saints players, to stumble over the line and  score Horley's third try like 'Bambi on Ice'. Again fly-half Jon Daniels expertly converted the try.

From the restart clean possession was secured by Horley loose head, Alex Barkley. Barkley gained good yardage, well supported by his team mates. This steady work was rewarded by the ball being well placed down the line to Jacky Pellan, to score Horley's fourth try, again converted by Daniels.

The Horley forwards attacked the St Francis side, camping inside their half. Horley, who at times had struggled in the set piece against a heavier and well drilled St Francis pack, adapted their style of play. Pack leader and second row, Angelo 'Fergy' Ferguson, utilised his sides strengths by adopting an expansive game and dominating the loose ball.

Following a fourth phase ball, possession spun out along the backs, to Jacky Pellan, who with great pace ran up the field. From here the ball was passed to Watson who continued the Horley onslaught. Watson passed inside to Joe Pellan, brother of Jack, who smashed through St Francis to score a well supported try. Once again skipper Daniels converted the try.

From here the floodgates opened with further trys being scored by Andy Pitcaithley and Alex "Doc" Smith. A cloud came over the Horley performance as Horley stalwart winger, Rob "Lord of the Dance" Barfoot, put his body on the line one time too often to be cruelly injured by a brutal high tackle. This gave birthday boy, David "Spike" Kelly his opportunity to prove his mettle. Off a sloppy St Francis high ball, Spike maintained possession to charge at the St Francis line to be brought down mere inches from their line, to be denied his part in the try-fest.

Horley infront of their home crowd won a convincing victory against the Saints 52-5, sending them marching home!

 

Horley Blow Away Hove - 4/10/08

With the rain pouring down and the wind blowing a gale, the weather was better suited to sailing than rugby down on the South coast on Saturday. However, despite the conditions, an undefeated Horley RFC team travelled down to the heart of East Sussex to face an experienced and successful Hove Vets team on this wet and windy October Saturday.

The home team elected to receive from the kick off and immediately attacked through their solid pack, stringing together a series of rolling mauls that Horley struggled to contain. The veterans rumbled up the pitch and were awarded an early penalty right in front of the sticks when the Horley forwards were caught offside at the bottom of a ruck. Rather than build on their dominance and strength, Hove kicked an easy penalty to take an early lead.

Again, from the kick off, Hove rolled up the pitch and were once more awarded a penalty in front of the Horley posts when Horley’s eager defence were deemed by the referee to be too physical at the breakdown. Once again, the home side decided to take the easy three points, re-assuring Horley that perhaps the home side did not have the confidence to go for the try.

At 6-0 down, Horley had to adapt, and try to get the ball out to their faster and more skilful backs. From the kick off the forwards tackled hard and won the ball just inside the Hove half. After several phases of ruck ball that laid down the gauntlet to the Hove forwards, the ball was released to the Horley backs who showed the kind of skill that they are becoming renowned for. Fly half Jon Daniels and inside centre Matt Clark ran a dummy-scissors and the ball was popped to attacking full back Mark Watson who went through the Hove defence like a knife through butter and scored under the posts. The conversion by Daniels put the visitors into the lead.

Horley’s forwards gathered the ball from the kick off well, and attacked back into the Hove half with renewed passion. In the awful conditions, handling was frustrating and both teams made un-forced errors in the middle of the pitch. Following exchanges of possession in the middle of the park for much of remainder of the first half, it fell to Horley’s dynamic outside centre Jack Pellen to break the deadlock with a spectacular solo effort, running through, around, under and over most of the Hove defence to score a magnificent try. With the additional points from Daniels, the visitors went into the break with a 14-6 lead.

It looked as though Hove had started the second half five minutes before Horley as they ran in their first try straight from the kick off. This was followed by another well-worked drive-over try two minutes later, taking the home team into the lead at 18-14.

Horley re-grouped and responded well with a scrappy try, scored by flanker Joe Pellen after Daniels had punted a speculative cross-field kick over the Hove try line. Again, Daniels converted to give Horley the lead again at 21-18.

The heavens opened with fifteen minutes left and, despite some excellent rugby from both sides, unforced errors were frequent and the play remained in the middle of the park. It was Hove who broke the deadlock with another trademark rumble down the pitch resulting in a try in the bottom corner.
With just four minutes left and staring down the face of their first defeat, Horley found a new level and charged at their opposition from the re-start. Hove retained the ball well, preventing Horley from making a comeback. So it came to a moment of sheer brilliance, which saw centre Jack Pellen intercept a rare wayward Hove pass and hurtle over the Hove line to score the winning points.

There is a lot for Horley to work on to improve their open play, but the celebrations from the team at the final whistle showed just how much this new team are determined to make their mark on the rugby world.

In a game that was unlikely to reveal any heroes due to the appalling weather conditions, the Horley team must acknowledge the superb efforts of number 8 Steve Parsons, newcomer prop Rob Houliston, and scrum half Alex Smith in addition to the brilliance of the points scorers.

 

Didn't we have a lovely time the day we went to Bognor! - 24/9/08

Following a late cancellation on Friday evening, Horley RFC were without a fixture until a last minute game was arranged against Bognor RFC. Preperation for the game was difficult with the Horley side arriving just five minutes before kick off following a long and stressful journey, which saw three of the Horley forwards involved in a minor car accident on the A264.

However, after a swift warm up in the September sun, Horley got the game under way against their experienced looking opposition. Bognor took a clean catch from the kick off and immediately attacked the unprepared Horley team, mauling their way back into the Horley half. The resolute Horley forwards tackled hard, displaying a similarly strong defence to the previous two games. The ball was eventually turned over in the Horley twenty-two and Horley’s backs were given an early opportunity to display the strong running rugby style that has been worked on and developed throughout the summer. The ball was swiftly moved from the base of the ruck by scrum half Alex Smith to Jon Daniels at fly half who sent a long and accurate miss pass to full back Mark Watson, joining the line at pace. Watson burst through the Bognor centres before running around his opposite number to score Horley’s first try.

After a slow start, Horley had switched on and some excellent groundwork by the forwards, driven on by second row pack leader Gary Ferguson, allowed the superior Horley backs to command the game and play an expansive and fast paced style. Horley’s second try was scored after several passages of play involving all fifteen players allowed  centre, Jack Pellen, to stride through the disorientated Bognor defence and canter over the line.

Bognor again kicked off and Horley immediately attacked back into the home team’s half. Once again, the Horley forwards kept the ball alive through maul after maul before releasing it out to the backs to do what they do best. A pinpoint accurate pass from Smith allowed Daniels to take the ball at pace and find a gap between the Bognor centres. After a run down the right wing, he was eventually tackled deep within the Bognor twenty-two but offloaded in the tackle to Smith, running an excellent supporting line, who scored under the posts.

Horley’s final try of the first half was a great example of open play and support, as their forwards demonstrated that the backs aren’t the only ones capable of quick hands and feet. Front, second and back row players all combined as they moved down the pitch in a spectacular show of strength and teamwork. Flankers Osborne and Joe Pellen (brother of Jack) found space to run and unleashed the Horley tackling machine, Steve Parsons, to score another fantastic try.

With such a strong lead at half time, it looked like Horley had Bognor defeated, but some tactical substitutions saw the home team come out with renewed vigour. The arrival of a new second row from the Bognor 1st team substitutes bench temporarily left Horley stunned and within ten minutes the new arrival had scored two tries as the Horley team struggled to take him down.

The Bognor comeback was short lived and Horley quickly changed their tactics to nullify the Bognor attack. Bognor were camped in the Horley half of the pitch for much of the second half but failed to string together enough phases to break the defence. Horley hooker, Paul Johnson, repeatedly stole scrum ball against the head and every member of the team tackled admirably to prevent Bognor from gaining any real momentum.

Following a long cross field kick into space from Daniels, winger Andy Pitcaithly out-smarted his opposite number and fly-hacked the ball towards the Bognor line. He reclaimed the ball inside the twenty-two but was tackled a metre short of the line. Matt Clark, Horley’s stalwart centre was in close support and controlled the situation with an excellent drive, clearing the opposing tacklers and securing the ball for Rob Barfoot, running from the opposite wing, to score an opportune try.

From the restart, Horley again ran the ball back at Bognor and after another stunning display of hands from the Horley backs, Jack Pellen smashed through the defence for his second try.

Bognor made a last gasp attempt to reduce the margin and were rewarded with a try just before the final whistle. Horley won 38-19, continuing their unbeaten run.

Another Victory for Horley - 20/9/08

Horley went to an early lead on a sunny after noon in Newick.  Within the first ten minutes of the match, it looked as though Horley had brought the fine weather with them, with  the Horley backs, showing they were far superior to their Newick counter-parts.
 
After several phases of quick and proficient handling by the Horley backs, the ball went down the line to winger Rob Barfoot, who danced around his opposite number, placing the ball down under the Newick posts.  This early try was easily converted by Horley fly-half and captain, Jon Daniels.
 
More of the same followed, with a solid catch and maul at the re-start, as Horley drove their opposition back towards their own half.  After multiple phases of retained possession, the ball popped out of the back of the ruck, into the steady hands of Horley scrum-half, Alex Smith.  Smith side-stepped and accelerated away, beating virtually the entire Newick back line, scoring the second Horley try under the Newick posts.  Once again, the sure boot of Daniels converted the score.
 
What looked like a potential rout , by the younger Horley side, was blunted by an experienced and solid Newick pack who adapted well to the Horley style, switching to an older, rolling maul-based game-plan.
 
The remainder of the first half, saw Newick firmly camped inside the Horley 22 yard line, finally being rewarded by a well deserved try just before the half time whistle blew, the Newick number 10 adding the extras. 
 
The second half began in a similar fashion to the end of the first, with Newick piling on unrelenting pressure on the younger Horley pack, slowly driving them down towards the try line. Phase after phase of crash ball followed by maul kept the ball with the forwards thus negating the superior Horley backs. However, the experience and size of the Newick team was equaled by the determination and grit of Horley and they once again failed to turn their pressure into points thanks to a resolute Horley defence thanks to the motivation provided by Horley pack leader, Gary Ferguson.
 
Horley regained their momentum from earlier in the game when their forwards turned over the ball inside their 22 and Daniels released attacking full back, Mark Watson, on a scorching run, which carved a hole right through the Newick defence. He was finally brought down by the Newick full back just outside their 22 yard line and, thanks to quick support from the Horley centre’s, Jack Pellen and Matt Clark, the ball was retained and Horley were able to regroup deep in their opponents half. After several forward phases, Horley were unable to break through the Newick defence so the forwards set up a beautiful platform for Daniels to score a 30 meter drop goal.
 
Newick retaliated from the kick off with much of the same rolling maul play they had exercised for much of the game and were eventually awarded their 2nd try of the game which they converted.
 
With 2 minutes left on the referees watch, Horley attacked the Newick forwards from the re-start with renewed energy and contained the Newick team well within their own half, until the final whistle blew signaling another win for Horley, 17-14!
 
Unsung heroes of the Horley team were Steve Parsons, Horley number 8, for his brave and inspired tackling, along with blind side flanker, Rolf Young-Hotz. Special mention must be made to the Horley centres, Matt Clark and Jack Pellen, for their skilful ball handling and running ability.
 
Gary Ferguson and newcomer, John Birkin, stiffened up the Horley scrummage in the 2nd row, which had been lacking in the performance against Eastbourne.  They were provided with a solid platform, by an experienced front row, in form of Ashley Johnston, Paul Johnson and Alex Barclay, who took over the loose-head position from an injured Matt Dockray.

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Horley RFC Get Off to a Thunderous Start - 6/9/08

On one of the wettest and windiest September Saturdays in history, the first ever team representing Horley Rugby Club took to the pitch at Oakwood School Playing Fields against a strong and experienced opposition from Eastbourne.

Despite training together all through the summer, this was the first time that the Horley side had been together in a match, and the lack of game-time soon became evident as the Eastbourne team attacked hard for the first 10 minutes. However, Horley’s defence stood strong and denied the visitors any reward for their pressure. On the 12th minute, a spilled ball by the Eastbourne winger was sprung on by Horley’s wing, Rob Barfoot, who popped it up to attacking fullback, Mark Watson. Watson’s strong run down the touchline, dodging the Eastbourne full back and scrum half, resulted in a try in the corner and Horley’s first points.

Eastbourne retaliated immediately, attacking across the width of the pitch. Their dominance of the inexperienced Horley scrum resulted in their first try just after the 20 minute mark. This was followed by another try just before half time, leaving Horley trailing 10-5 at the interval.

A stern team talk at half time by fly half Jon Daniels, standing in for unavailable captain Gary Ferguson, identified the areas for immediate improvement and Horley began the second half with renewed determination and passion.

The Eastbourne kick off was received by prop Matt Dockray and Horley’s forwards began to operate as a unit, moving the ball up the field through multiple phases. Eastbourne couldn’t handle the unrelenting pressure and, following a four phase movement involving all fifteen Horley players, the visitors gave away a penalty just outside their ten metre line which Daniels converted to take the score to 10-8.

In the pouring rain, Horley fumbled the ball from the kick off giving Eastbourne a scrum on the home 22 metre line. The Eastbourne number 8 broke from the back of the scrum and was stopped on the 5 metre line by a determined defence. Eastbourne continued the pressure and were rewarded with a try when their young centre went down the blindside and scored.

The kick went unconverted and as a tired Eastbourne team regrouped in their own half to receive the ball, Daniels took a quick kick off away from the Easbourne pack, gathered the ball after the required ten metres and was eventually tackled into touch on the Eastbourne five metre line. Eastbourne knocked on from their own lineout, giving Horley a scrum on the 5-metre line. Scrum half Alex Smith, playing his first game in the position, picked up the ball from the back of the scrum and went on a darting run to score a brilliant solo try. Daniels converted drawing the game at 15-15.

With just ten minutes left on the clock, Horley once again stepped up their game and began playing some far more interesting, running rugby. Centres Matt Clarke and Jack Pellen combined well to create space across the park and after several phases of play, Horley’s back row worked together to score another try, which Daniels duly converted. 22-15 to Horley.   

The final five minutes of the game were dominated by desperate attempts from Eastbourne to claw back a draw, but Horley’s defence was solid across the pitch and the visitors were denied any further points.     

As the heavens opened again and thunder rumbled around Horley, the referee blew the final whistle signifying Horley RFC’s first win and their arrival in the rugby world.

Horley Rugby Club would like to thank all of their players, supporters and sponsors for braving the terrible weather to support the new club. Horley train every Thursday at the Oakwood School Playing Fields from 7.30pm.