Beckenham go into Christmas 12 points clear!
By Michael Timms
Level 12 completed
Saturday the 15th of December saw Beckenham play their final league game of the year against fellow promotion hopefuls Horsham.
Although Horsham came into the game off the back of a tight loss to Old Colfeians the week prior, they had previously been in a rich vein of form, notching up some impressive wins both at home and on the road however they had incurred some injuries to stalwarts the ‘Tredgett brothers’ so seemed, on paper, to have been fielding a relatively youthful side coming into the game, either way, knowing this the men of Beckenham understood that what they were about to be involved in would be a pivotal game, physically and contextually for their season.
Beckenham on the other hand fielded a relatively unchanged side to that which faced Maidstone the week prior (they do say consistency is key) with the exception of Rion Clarke-Fortune, who after taking a year out to play with the Wild Geese in West London returned to the squad to cover the forward pack. Welcome back Rion!
The game commenced with both teams probing each other’s halves with Horsham looking the more dominant in the initial exchanges, with only the incredibly effective Beckenham forwards countering their opposition at the set piece to prevent Horsham from scoring. Unfortunately the Horsham onslaught twinned with the law of averages dictated that Beckenham conceded a penalty for offside in front of the posts which Horsham successfully converted, 0-3.
From the restart Horsham continued to exert immense pressure on the seemingly groggy Beckenham side and after some neat kicks into the Beckenham red zone, looked as though they were beginning to win the arm wrestle, making a strong case for that statement with a scything break from their powerful winger Declan Nwachukwu, who if it wasn’t for the imperious Josh Smith with an immense covering tackle, would have surely found the try line.
Although Horsham had started well it wasn’t long before Beckenham gained some traction in the opposition half via line breaks from messers James Curr and Louis Richards and after a short arm penalty a sumptuous break ensued from back row Alex Jones. Who after breaking a handful of tackles, off loaded to the on rushing Keita Orelaja in turn pushing the ball to Jamie McDowell, finishing off the move beautifully by rounding the full back with his electric pace to score unopposed.
Louis Richards adding the extras making the score 7-3.
From the proceeding kick off Beckenham began to flex their muscles within the set piece and due to their dominance over their West Sussex counterparts, commenced their march up the field - much to the delight of the baying Beckenham crowd. It wasn’t long before the dominance turned into points as after multiple infringements at scrum time from the tiring Horsham pack, Beckenham were awarded a penalty try...14-3.
Unfortunately the weather was to play a huge factor in the remainder of the half with countless handling errors brought on by the unrelenting rain and wind. So with the score resting at 14-3 the ref brought down a close on the first 40 minutes of the intensifying match up and Beckenham headed to the sheds with their tails up.
The second half started strongly for the advancing Beckenham side, who were beginning to hit their ‘gallop’ with multiple forays deep into the Horsham half and it wasn’t long before there was impact on the scoreboard. After a telling break from pragmatic fullback Keita Orelaja - neatly chipping over the on rushing Horsham defensive line, outpacing the flailing would be tacklers to regather and be eventually hauled over the line...to then have been judged by the referee to not have had full control of the ball in the motion of scoring...much to the dismay of the already swelling Beckenham hordes who made their opinions vehemently clear.
However this was to serve as a mere soupçon to proceedings as the resulting scrum for Horsham was turned by the powerful Beckenham pack and eventual MVP, Alex Jones, dove across the line with Horsham’s would be tacklers scattered in his wake. Additional’s missed, 19-3.
From kick off Beckenham again proceeded to make intrepid ventures behind the Horsham gainline, falling frustratingly short due to handling errors from a mixture of over exuberance and increasingly worsening weather conditions. However it wasn’t long until the Beckenham pack once again showed their dominance to allow the consistent, Andrew Knowles to trot away from back of the scrum, draw the exhausted Horsham defence in and gently off load the ball to the supporting Craig Thompson who slid over the line unopposed, conversion added 26-3.
Shortly after the restart captain Liam Markey broke the line, striding gallantly towards bungalow corner finding an additional gear from the Beckenham mob - who at this point had reached ‘fever pitch’ - only to be brought down agonisingly close by a lucky Horsham tap tackle, this inevitably creating an over lap with enough space to float a well weighted cross field kick (hypothetically) to the other side of the pitch...however the play was read by the defensive cover and after a charge down, kick ahead and successful regathering, Horsham had scored their first try of the day, with the additional two points converted making the score 26-10 brought a close to the match and ‘London South East 2’ for 2018.
Retrospectively corresponding results in the league made the victory on the day even sweeter and no doubt if the coaching and leadership team had been presented with a 12 point lead at the top of the table when the fixtures were released they would have been overwhelmed however upon reflection DoR, Daniel Brown commented...
“It wasn’t our best performance of the season technically or tactically. But the boys demonstrated the work ethic and desire that this group is becoming synonymous with.
There is much to work on as we approach next year and the second half of the season. We will have to improve further if we are to achieve our ultimate goals this year”
Overall a strong and convincing performance from a Beckenham side still yet to hit their potential.
Beckenham return to action on the 5th of January with an enjoyable away trip to Broadstairs on the cards to face Thanet Wanderers who in recent weeks seem to have been hitting some good form. We hope that as many of you as possible can join us as we look to extend our unbeaten run and start the New Year in winning fashion.
From everyone at the Beckenham, we wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.