Horsham under-18 girls bounce back from first loss of the season with hard-fought Worthing win

Horsham under-18 girls went to Worthing looking to bounce back from their first loss of the season against Basildon before the Christmas.

Both Worthing and Horsham both won their National Cups pools in the National Cup, and could meet in the quarter-finals if they win their respectively last 16 matches.

There was even more spice to the derby as some of the Horsham girls would be playing against some of their Worthing College team-mates.

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From the kick off, Horsham’s defence stood strong, putting pressure on the Worthing attack and putting some low tackles in, led by Ellie Eddies, Sophie Roberts and Alina Hillicks in the backrow.

Horsham under-18 girls bounced back from their first defeat of the campaign with an excellent win over Sussex rivals Worthing. Pictures by Neal Holden

Some ill-discipline from Horsham, including some unappreciated conversations with the referee, put them under pressure early. A second turnover in the Worthing 22 lead to a short range try from Grace Clifford, which was converted by Freya Bell.

Some good pressure relieving kicking from Bell then set up good field position for the Horsham pack. A dominant catch and drive, which was then collapsed close to the line, saw the ball sharply spun out to the backs where Katie Shillaker squeezed over for her first try of the afternoon, again converted by Bell.

Horsham came away pointless from a visit to the Worthing 22 after more pressure but they were again penalised.

The Worthing back line continued to look dangerous until a turnover lead to a try from Mimi Clifford. A close miss by Bell led to the score being 19-0 at half time.

Horsham's Sophie Roberts keeps her eyes on the prize from the lineout

Worthing came out the stronger in the second half, leading to a few mistakes from Horsham. Thus led to Worthing’s first try of the game after a few miss tackles from Horsham.

The successful conversation made the score 19-7 and Worthing spirits lifted.

The next 10 minutes saw both teams exert high intensity and pressure. Horsham and Worthing showed their quality in attack and defence and demonstrated that their National Cup successes were no fluke.

The stalemate was broken after a penalty was given in the Worthing 22. A quick tap from Shillaker allowed her to power over for her second try, which was duly converted by Bell.

Horsham captain Lucy Senneck looks to spread the play

But, almost immediately, Worthing showed their class, jumping on a loose ball from the kick off and one miss tackle allowed them to score. The try was unconverted, taking the scores to 26-12.

Horsham were able to put pressure on Worthing, which led to a penalty 15 metres from the line. Lucy Senneck’s quick thinking created a huge hole in the Worthing defence, drawing in three players, allowing Bell to score. The subsequent conversion was missed.

After the restart, some heavy tackling from Shillaker and Tiggy Bellinger allowed Horsham to get the ball back. Macy Lawes took the ball right up to the Worthing defence, drawing two players, and with a expertly timed pass she put Shillaker through.

Shillaker rounded the full back to score under the posts from 60 metres. Bell added the extras to extend the score to 38-12.

Worthing’s never-say-die attitude put them in a good position thanks to two excellent pick-and-goes from their number 8. A fantastic line from their centres gave them the deserved last try of the day.

The final score was 38-17 and Mimi Clifford was voted by Worthing as player of the match. The Horsham coaches voted Eve Clarke, Izzy White and Imogen McCall in a close joint-second.

After a rejig of the pools in the National Cup, Horsham will now visit Basildon in the last 16 on January 30. Their next home match sees them entertain East Grinstead on January 23.