Horsham Lions lift rugby's Sussex Cup

Horsham’s second XV, known as the Lions, beat Haywards Heath firsts 29-20 to win an exciting Bob Rogers Sussex Cup final played in glorious sunshine at Crawley Rugby Club.

Horsham Lions with the cup
Horsham Lions with the cup

The Green and Whites have now won the cup seven successive times stretching back to 2014.

It is the most senior cup competition played for in Sussex and with Horsham’s first XV now at too high a level to play in the competition, the Lions picked up the baton.

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Horsham started strongly and Ben Murphy crashed through a couple of players to score from five yards.

Heath responded with a penalty before Horsham’s backs showed their class and Oli Joels put Joe Wilde away away to outpace the defence and score for a 10-3 lead. Heath levelled with a well-executed converted try.

Breaks from Joels and Taylor Morris were stopped then Heath went up to the other end to kick a penalty and secure a 13-10 lead.

Horsham’s greater depth became apparent in the second half. George Howard scored on 51 minutes from a catch and drive which was well converted by Jake Fisher, then despite only having 13 players on the pitch, winger Eddie Grogan scored for Horsham to lead 22-13.

Heath scored another try to set up a grandstand finish. But scrum-half Fisher scored from a sniping run and then converted his own try to seal the victory.

Horsham’s Head of Rugby Nick Stocker said after the game: “With the Lions winning the Bob Rogers Cup, Horsham have retained this now over the last 7 years of competition given the interruption due to Covid. Always good to end the season with silverware which was earned in a good tight match, played out in fine conditions between two committed sides. A credit to community rugby. Both sides had a young feel to them which bodes well for the future and with a good crowd offering vociferous support, will have granted both teams valuable experience. With the game being the third cup final in succession on a busy day of rugby, it was a fitting way to end a successful season.

"Ultimately our bench made the difference as Heath began to tire and fall off tackles, an indication of the strength in depth that we are currently enjoying. Testament to the hard work that all are putting in to get three senior men’s sides out on a weekly basis. Our man of the match went to Charles Newey who was physical throughout the 80 minutes at the coalface.

"We now enter a period of well-earned rest and planning ahead of next season. Before that however we have the inaugural joint awards night for our ladies and men’s teams on 25 June. It promises to be a great evening of celebration to what has been a great season across the club."