CS 1863 1St XV 6 TUNBRIDGE WELLS RFC 1ST XV 36

Wells travelled to a tundra like Chiswick on Saturday with high freezing winds, a damp surface and Egyptian geese at the edge of the pitch to add to the impression of Arctic winter conditions.

The visitors had first use of the squally wind but neither side were able to settle into any really constructive play in the first 20 minutes due to the difficulty in handling the ball and the fact that at this stage both sides were relatively evenly balanced.

However. One area where Wells imposed an early dominance was at the set scrummage where the front row of a returning Charlie Smith, Luke Hawkins and Chris Shorter established an early ascendancy which was to last for the full 80 minutes.

Wells had one or two opportunities between defending competently to kick goals with the wind at times at their back. Having spurned at least one close opportunity to opt for scrums Wells finally took the kicking option on 17 minutes with the returning Jack Anderson successfully landing a penalty goal from the half way line to give the visitors the lead 0-3.

For much of the second quarter both sides enjoyed a reasonable share of the ball with Tom Pithouse, Nick Doherty and Josh Hawkins prominent in making yards and in the loose. Disruption though continued as on 27 minutes Tom West another returner at scrum half left the field with a back problem to be replaced by Angus Horne who was pressed into service from the bench in an unfamiliar position. This was not helped by a yellow card for the Wells hooker Luke Hawkins on 30 minutes to further disrupt the side.

Wells then dealt very well with a sustained period of attack but despite the numerical disadvantage a great period of defence over a five minute period saw CS unable to get across the line despite being held up at one point over the whitewash.

It was an untidy losing of possession which then undid a reasonable half against the conditions by CS as a spilled ball was hacked up-field to be retrieved by Wells who recycled to the left of the post with Max Hobbs cutting a great angle to score with Anderson adding the points to give Wells a 0-10 lead at halftime.

With the wind at their backs in the second half it appeared that CS had more than an evens chance of coming out on top, this impression was added to after 43 minutes when scrum half  Harry Vidler kicked a simple penalty 3-10  but it was a different Wells now back to 15 who appeared after the break. Already scrum dominant Josh Hawkins took some great line out ball in the third quarter as hooker Luke Hawkins found his accuracy in the worsening conditions and the encroaching dark. Wells cut out the kicking and found some rhythm to bring some bruising runs out of Nick Doherty at No 8 and some incisive breaks from  Max Hobbs, Mike Doherty and Ali Maine.

CS were not helped as first No 8, Zinny Norman was yellow carded for a high tackle to be followed 8 minutes later by back row colleague No 6 Luke Chadwick for not rolling away at the ruck. With one CS man still off Wells took the game by the scruff of the neck as No 8 Nick Doherty- outstanding all afternoon –  powered over under the posts with Anderson converting 3-17. CS brought play upfield from the KO and received encouragement with Vidler’s second penalty as the game entered the last quarter.6-17.

This though was as close as CS were to get as Wells increased their share of possession and handled very well as they started to spread the ball wider and the home teams tackling went missing. This produced a purple patch of scoring with 19 points in the last seven minutes  with Angus Horne diving to score the first after a huge shunt backwards for CS after a penalty scrum, converted by Anderson 6-24. With 4 minutes to go Max Hobbs put in a 40 metre run down the left to beat the cover for the Wells bonus point and 4 tries with Anderson again converting a difficult kick in the wind 6-31. This still left time in the last minute for the visitors to secure possession and for Mike Doherty to skip down the right touchline for the 5th try which Anderson could not convert. 6-36.

A successful game for Wells and their second away win of the season as a powerful second half display against the wind, a strong defence on their own line, and a dominant platform in the scrum saw them overcome a CS side who were competitive in the first half but whose performance, discipline and tackling fell away after the break and particularly in the last 10 minutes as fitness told. For Wells special mention for Tom Pithouse who put in a physical shift and is growing in his role, for Nick Doherty who made many yards throughout and for centres Mike Doherty and Ali Main as well as double try scorer Max Hobbs. Also a mention for Ben Kayser who is now turning the Wells forwards into a unit who should not be scared of any side in the league when scrummaging and is achieving more accuracy at the lineout.

Wells have a difficult task at St Marks next Saturday when Wimbledon – who are currently in second place in  London and SE Premier – are the visitors to St Marks KO 2PM.

Tunbridge Wells RFC 10 North Walsham RFC 26

Today was a better day from Tunbridge Wells RFC, whilst ultimately they lost to a competent North Walsham side, they didn’t collapse and wave the white flag, but won the second half convincingly with grit and guile. 

 

With a respectful 2 minute silence observed, Wells received the ball from kick off, with their backs to the club house. Nick Doherty caught the first piece of possession and with a flick, passed onto Luke Giles at 10. The ball was hoisted far and wide and the Green shirted opposition caught it and we then got to see how quick their line was.

 

They approached the first phase of play with speed and cunning and were awarded a penalty after 3 minutes with one of several Wells infringements to blight the opening exchanges. In fact the penalty count was to be high in favour of the visitors, an unwelcome feature for most of the vocal home crowd in the first half. 

 

They went quickly with this first penalty but Wells were able to thwart the attack. Ball was cleared, a maul ensued which Wells then illegally sacked and again another penalty was gifted. They kicked for their first line out which Wells turned over. Wells get the scrum and then were penalised for collapsing on their ball. Why they would do this was a mystery, however the referee was closer to the play. So called it.

 

Walsham punted for the line and it looked like they were in a try scoring position landing in the red zone. The lineout was won, and we got to see how silky smooth the Green’s backs were, as they carved through the Wells defence at breakneck speed, their menacing winger, Dan Smith, gliding over to open the scoring. Dotting down in front of the posts, which they easily convert after 10 minutes gone. Score 0-7.

 

Wells kicked off, traded a few more penalties and hadn’t really had possession, so extremely frustrating all round. 

 

However fortune favours the brave and the second scrum showed Wells dominance, We nicked one against the head, Doherty at 8, picks and goes, Wells get on the front foot, looking like they’re back in business with some soft hands from Tom Pithouse. The ball is somehow turned over and the visitors get to clear with a goal line drop out. 

 

However there was an issue from previous scrum, where the ‘Baby-Faced’ Gabe O’Brien is carried off the park with clearly more damage to his already heavily strapped-up right knee. He was replaced by Spicer from the lukewarm bench who was to have an outstanding game.

 

Wells then got a line out, the throw not straight, and at this point the Referee decided to have a word with both captains. Clearly frustrations starting to get to both teams. 

 

When Wells have possession, it seems to be from slow ball, so their only option is a dink over the top of the rushing defence, however the ball would then allow more possession to the Green Shirted Walsham side, who are gathering momentum by the minute. 

 

The next piece of possession is for the visitors. They again ship the ball out wide stretching the defence. Approaching the 22, the Walsham 14 (Dan Smith again!) smashes into the Wells 15, Toby Wallace, and makes it over the line for their second try of the half. The conversion is missed so the score remains at 0-12with 20 minutes gone. 

 

From kick off there are some more scrums and penalties, as the opposition couldn’t handle the pressure, sadly Wells don’t do much with the ball and then it’s spilt. The following scrum is then set. It then wheels round inexplicably like a Catherine wheel on ‘Guy Fawkes’ night. The crowd then drops their collective pints as the penalty is awarded to the visitors. 

 

With more forward momentum, once again the silky smooth Walsham backs penetrate, there is a forward arm wrestle, then the pill spits out, and the Walsham 13, Joe Milligan, dances over the line like Cinderella at the ball. 

 

This is the last try of the half, the Walsham players stay on the turf, and the Well’s warriors are ushered back into the changing room probably for a discussion about snuffing out the oppositions backs, retaining possession and creating some ‘Voodoo Magic’ to get in to the head of the referee to help reverse the high penalty count!

 

The second half kicks off at 0-19. The home crowd love this Well’s team and start to get behind them, urging them to keep on believing and plough through this talented Norfolk farming club. 

 

Pressure now from Wells, as they flood into the red zone, the crowed are at fever pitch, from where we were standing the collapse of bodies across the line definitely looked like a try, however the referee was not in the best position to award it. The following scrum was then lost by Wells, cleared by Walsham and returned with interest. Wells were then awarded a penalty in the red zone as the opposition were under pressure. 

 

This was then converted by GIles, the score now 3-19.

 

With their tails up, Wells were challenging, and a purple patch of possession was looking positive for Wells. 

 

Something was clicking, and the Wells were on the charge, threatening down the left wing, with space at a premium, Spicer threaded through a grubber kick, which rolled at pace towards the opposition captain and No.8, Will Hodgson, at which point he scooped the ball up one handed and sprinted out of his 22. He was a constant threat and clearly a special talent. Rumour in the bar was he’s rejected a call up to Leicester Tigers. 

 

We are now heading towards the last 25 minutes of the match. The light is fading, and Wells are starting to adopt some quality interplay passing. Wells then receive a penalty, for a high shot, from the under pressure Greens. Wells win the line out from the penalty. A high ball goes up and the Greens knock on. The crowd smell blood, the players dig in. 

 

Wells get turned over in the midfield and the menacing Walsham 8 scampers off down the field. With the tables turned, Walsham now apply more pressure but the Wells line stays firm. Eventually they get awarded a penalty for their defensive endeavours. 

 

With the penalty not clearing the pitch the Walsham boys once again rush through the Wells defence and pull further away with a wide passage of play. Try time. The conversion is easily slotted as is in front of the posts, and with 10 minutes left, the score is now 3-26

 

With the game winding down, the Walsham number 8 had some more hulking runs, however what will ultimately define the Wells performance was thier last passage of meaningful play.

 

Chris Shorter made a bullocking charge up the left hand short side and then in mid tackle, offloaded with a ‘Sonny-Bill Williams, out of the back of the hand’ pass to Richard Murray, who placed the ball down with ease. With the score now at 8 – 26. This soon became 10-26 with the conversion by Jack Anderson.

 

And this was to be the final score. Even in the dying minutes Wells saw more pressure, tackle after tackle, hit after hit. They defended well. And finished the half at 10-7. They can easily compete at this level. They just need some more support. Maybe we can all cheer them on at the next home game – 4thDecember at St Marks vs Wimbledon. See you there!

 

Tim McCabe

Westcombe Park RFC 32 Tunbridge Wells RFC 27

On Saturday Wells 1st XV travelled the relatively short distance up the A21 to play Westcombe Park. Allegedly 13c but feeling much colder, with a strong South Westerly breeze, this was another overcast but dry afternoon.
Westcombe Park started brightly, playing away from their distant clubhouse with the wind at their backs. After just 4 minutes they had the opportunity of an early lead with a relatively central penalty kick just outside the Wells 22 but the opportunity was missed. It was to be another 15 minutes or so of relative parity between the sides and no significant attacks from either team before Wells worked their way up to the Westcombe Park 22 culminating in a penalty which Luke Giles sent over giving Wells the first score of the match on 20 minutes. 0-3
From the restart Westcombe Park attacked with energy going through phases testing the Wells defence and ultimately scoring in the top right hand corner. 5-3
The next 15 minutes or so saw prolonged pressure from Wells, often playing in and around the Westcombe Park 22. The work rate was upped and as Wells went through the phases eventually the pressure told and a penalty drawn.
The kick was to the corner and the following lineout, thrown by Nick Doherty, was good. The ball was moved quickly out to Nick’s brother Mike who twisted and turned his way through the defence to ground the ball for Wells’ first try of the match. 5-10
Again Westcombe Park responded with energy going through a number of phases. Wells stoutly defended for a few minutes while Westcombe Park explored, looking for gaps, finally making their way over just outside the posts. 42 minutes from the initial kick off. 12-10
The restart saw a beautiful tip back from Toby Talbot to Charley Smith who set off, spinning the ball out to the backs and across to Angus Horne who dinked the ball through into the Westcombe Park 22. The clearance kick didn’t travel far.
Shortly afterwards Luke Giles kicked through, with the ball hanging in the air at an awkward height, giving Max Hobbs a difficult take but he made no mistake and was only brought down just short of the Westcombe Park line. Unfortunately penalised. Double movement? Westcombe Park cleared and from the following lineout launched another solid attack working through the phases, sucking the defence in and then going out wide and all the way in. 50 minutes from the initial kick off. 17-10 and Half Time.
Overall the first half had been gritty and a bit niggly at times, with Wells defending fairly well overall, but with Westcombe Park showing more energy in attack.
Both sides would be looking to control the narrative with the first try of the second half. It was Westcombe Park who scored first, and early. After a knock on from the kick off Westcombe Park used quick hands to dot down inside two minutes. 24-10
A few minutes later from a Westcombe Park lineout around their 40m mark the ball was moved quickly to their centre who found a gap and took the ball all the way to our 22. A scrambling defence soon got organised and held out phase after phase on Wells try line. Wells eventually won a penalty and with an impressive kick from Luke Giles found themselves back in the Westcombe Park  half. Westcombe Park gave away another penalty which saw the kick go to the corner for a Wells lineout. The throw was deemed not straight leading to a Westcombe Park scrum. The ball went out to the centre again with a gap found and the following attack saw Westcombe Park move all the way up to Wells 22 again, with the ball spilled forward. Lucky escape.
A few minutes later saw a decent kick through from Wells. Toby Wallace showed his impressive top speed on the chase through and forced the Westcombe Park defence to scoop the ball and carry over his own line before grounding.  Scrum 5m to Wells.
The scrum saw some beautiful interplay between brothers Nick and Mike Doherty as Wells 8, Nick, collected the ball from the back of the scrum launching himself round the scrum towards the defence and cleverly offloading to centre, Mike, who came through from deep, at pace, and took it in for an easy try beside the posts. 25 minutes. 24-17
8 minutes later and Wells were back on their 22. With offside given Westcombe Park take the 3. 27-17.
The next few minutes saw play in both 22s. A penalty around Wells 22 saw a tremendous kick from Luke Giles almost taking the ball from 22 to 22.
A few minutes later saw a Westcombe Park scrum on their 22. Penalised for wheeling, Luke Giles takes the 3. 30 minutes. 27-20.
The next 10 minutes saw strong attack from Westcombe Park, and solid defence from Wells. Desperate defence from Wells eventually saw the ref giving Matt Spicer a yellow card. Westcombe Park made the most of the extra man and scored their final try of the game. 40 minutes from the initial kick off. 32-20.
For the remainder of the match Wells played with urgency, applying pressure and working through the phases, drawing penalties – pick and go. Nick Doherty got to within a couple of metres. Chris Shorter stopped slightly closer.  Eventually the ball was spun out through fast hands to Toby Wallace who stretched his legs and went into the corner for the final score of the match. 32-27.
As has been the case so often this season this was, at times, a frustrating and bemusing performance. It was good to see no points conceded in the first 15 minutes of the first half. The scrum was solid as we’ve come to expect each week. The lineout was improved. Luke Giles kicking was as good as I’ve seen from him this season. There were flashes of quality in the backs attacking lines, but as a team Wells were far too often playing response rather than setting the tone, which ultimately makes every job tougher. This is a team of good players, but we’ve yet to see them put together an 80 minute performance deserving of their overall talent.
Next week sees us welcome North Walsham to St Mark’s – Saturday 13th November – 2.30pm k.o.
Bruce Elliott

October 100 Club Draw

The results from the draw made last Saturday at the pre-match lunch ahead of the Sevenoaks game are:-

Tom Callaway (Number 49) – £250

Graham Withers (Number 3) – £100

Laurence Taylor (Number 43) – £50

If you would like to support the club by joining the 100 Club then contact Alan Skinner at skinners205@btinternet.com

Match report – Tunbridge Wells 0 Sevenoaks 45

RIVALRY – a Noun meaning “competition for the same objective or for superiority in the same field.”

If you substitute the word “in” to make it “on the same field” then this, perhaps, encapsulates perfectly the rugby relationship between the rugby clubs of Tunbridge Wells and Sevenoaks. That this has been an amiable rivalry, with strong friendships within and between both clubs, has not made it any less competitive over the past few years. We have, by and large, plied our trade at the same level with Wells often reaching promotion a season ahead of Oaks, only for our peers “up the A21” to join us in at the end of the following campaign. Cue a series of local derbies.


In recent times it is fair to say that the team from St Marks have held sway with the last Sevenoaks win being a nerve-wracking 26-27 victory in December 2015 in a match hosted by the Skinners School. Since then, Wells have won 5 and drawn 2 of the ensuing matches, although the teams could not be split when last facing each other in the 2019-20 pre-Covid season. Wells were undoubtedly fortunate to cling on to a 15-15 draw in the pitch-black of a dark St Marks, in a game featuring 4 attacking line-outs stemming from penalties to the visitors in the 9 minutes of added-time. The re-match was again tight with the Knole Paddock crowd breathing the sighs of relief this time as Wells missed a last grasp opportunity in an 18-18 draw. It is fair to say that Sevenoaks were “due one”…..

That was then, and this is now. Sevenoaks travelled down the A21 to Wells in confident mood. Sitting third in the league, they had won their last 6 games after an opening day loss at Hertford, scoring 211 points and conceding just 52 in the process. The hosts, on the other hand, had lost 6 of their 7 games and sat 13th of 14th in the London & Southeast Premier League. Athough they could take some heart from the fact that several of these defeats were close, it was ominous that two of the sides that had recently bested them (Sidcup and Brighton) had been thumped by over 50 points by Sevenoaks since then. Tunbridge Wells Chairman Mike Rigby said in his very engaging post-lunch speech, “the form book can go out of the window in derby matches” and of course he is correct, but current form also must have a bearing and, sadly for the St Marks’ faithful, this was to be a game that “went to form”…..


A very healthy crowd in the region of 400 saw the visitors kick off down the hill under a bright blue sky with a relatively modest (by St Marks standards) cross-field wind coming off the Frant Road. Oaks clearly showed their attacking intent in the opening exchanges, looking to achieve quick ball from the forwards and play an expansive game. That this is the same approach Wells seek to take too, bode well for an entertaining afternoon’s rugby but it was the visitors who were to gain the upper-hand and never let their grip loosen.


Ben Adams pushed a first long-range penalty shot wide for Oaks on 4 minutes but they were soon back on the attack after former Wells player Shaydn Osgood (who had moved to Wells from Oaks in the 2017/18 season following our promotion to this league) received an over-exuberant welcome back from home skipper Mike Doherty who was penalised for a high tackle. Oaks have historically had a very strong and effective line-out “catch and drive” and this brought the first trigger call of “processes”, only for them to be penalised for blocking-off. Luke Giles found an excellent relieving kick, but it was to be a temporary line-out respite though as the game progressed.


On 7 minutes, the visitors had a line-out on their left wing 40 metres out. Having moved play in-field they then cleverly switched the attack back to the blind side and created a try for a player who must be a leading contender to having one of the best names ever of a try-scorer at St Marks!? Full back Patrick Pellegrini (fresh from an invite to train with the touring Tonga national side mid-week), made an excellent outside break before beating the rushing defenders with a well-timed inside pass to winger Te Awa Hou Rare Morris (Awa to his friends) who dotted down. A fine left-footed touchline conversion by Adams made it 0-7.


Wells responded well and as Oaks started to incur the wrath of excellent young official Conor Boyle, a clever short line-out between home hooker Stuart Nicholls and prop Gabriel O’Brien kept Wells on the front foot. Flanker Toby Talbot made a strong carry and outside backs Angus Horne and Toby Wallace linked well to release the ever-dangerous left-winger Max Hobbs. A neat Giles chip under the posts, whilst penalty advantage was being played, very nearly created a try but Wells now had the chance of an attacking 5 metre line-out instead. Sadly, this time the Nicholls-O’Brien combination was thwarted as the ball failed to travel the requisite 5 metres and Oaks were able to clear their lines. 
Soon after Nicholls connected with lock Jack Lord and a strong maul produced a Wells penalty Sadly, it also heralded a phase that was to last the remainder of the match, where the Wells line-out was to start misfiring, and the visitors were able to clear. 


A robust James Fotheringham run put Oaks back on the attack and it took a brave sliding effort by home full back Wallace to thwart the visiting centre’s chip and chase. This came at the expense of an Oaks attacking scrum 25 metres out. The scrum set-piece was fiercely contested throughout with home ‘Man of the Match’ Charley Smith exerting a lot of pressure at loose-head when he was on the pitch. This was the case here with Oaks being marched backwards up the hill before number 8 Sean Derrick was as industrious as ever in tidying up the retreating ball. A clever Ollie Shirtcliff chip to 5 metres out put the pressure back on the home side, and although a strong Horne/Jack Smith dual tackle thwarted an initial attack, Oaks swiftly moved the ball across the pitch from the left wing to the right one. As the Wells defence scrambled to react, another change of direction and a superb running line from Sam Nicholls saw the Oaks’ second-row score unopposed between the sticks. Adams’ conversion made it 0-14 on 22 minutes.


The hosts reacted positively to this score, but with the inability to secure their own line-out ball now starting to hurt them, a raking 60-yard clearing kick by Morris soon had Wells under pressure again. As Oaks attacked, Wells Number 8 Nick Doherty’s attempted interception was adjudged a deliberate knock on, and the visitors turned down the easy three points sensing this was the moment to turn the screw by opting for an attacking line-out.


When the first rolling maul was pulled down illegally, a general warning was issued to Wells and the scene was set for take two. When the much-loved Wells Colts-product Scotty Sedgwick found Stuart Coleman, a maul was set and there was a certain inevitability about the outcome as it rolled forward over the try-line, with Sedgwick dotting down. I have said it before, and do not apologise for saying it again, that to this old-school Welsh former-lock and referee, a rolling maul done well is quite simply “a thing of beauty” and this was not to be the last time the St Marks crowd (well your correspondent anyway) would have the chance to “enjoy” the sight of one performed perfectly. Adams’ conversion drifted just short of the left-hand post, so it was now 0-19 on 29 minutes.


This try was to herald a remarkable period when the visitors went 20 minutes without earning a penalty of their own, but sadly for the home support, Wells were unable to capitalise on this, even when Oaks were temporarily down to 14 and then 13 players. On 33 minutes Osgood was sent to the sin-bin for a high tackle on opposite number Horne but with an inability to secure their own line-out Wells were having to work incredibly hard to build pressure. Scrum-half Tom West and Giles tried to up the tempo and both Talbot and Josh Hawkins carried well but over-elaboration in midfield saw the initial opportunity wasted. 


Another penalty to Wells on the Oaks 22 metre line this time saw a scrum quite rightly chosen as the attacking option, and as the ball was moved wide the second Oaks centre Fotheringham was also given a yellow card for an adjudged high shot. Was this was Wells’ time to strike before half-time and with the advantage of the hill in the second half? Another attacking scrum saw Oaks collapse as they were a player light having moved Derrick into the backs, and surely now in front of the posts another scrum was the best option to either bring him in to the set-piece or to push Oaks back again? However, ours is a much easier game from the touchline and a quick tap penalty was taken instead – and a knock-on later the chance was gone.


Half-Time 0-19

The second half saw forwards Tommy Justice and Josh Brockman replace Nicholls and Lord and both were very industrious (sadly before injury in the latter’s case) in what was, ultimately, to prove a losing effort. With their two-player advantage, Wells started the second period on the front foot but minutes 40-45 were about as good as it was to get for the home side. A three on two overlap was created only for a midfield pass to go to ground. Another dominant Wells scrum maintained field position, but the Oaks defence was as good as their attack all game and they eventually earned a breakdown turnover penalty which not only enabled them to exit their half, but also after another penalty was needed to thwart the ensuing line-out, they were now back within 10 metres of the Wells try-line on the right-wing in front of the clubhouse.


“Clinical” as is a good a word as any to describe what happened next. “Processes” was the call, Sedgwick again found Coleman and ten metres later it was a case of deja-vu as the hooker bagged a brace of tries, and with it the try bonus point for his side. With the conversion missed it was now 0-24 after 47 minutes.


Rich Murray came into the Wells back-line and the home team were awarded a penalty from the kick-off. However, it was to be 18 minutes before they could take this. First half try-scorer Sam Nicholls took a heavy blow but both clubs’ medical teams were on the pitch within moments to assist the stricken player. This is a tough game we play, especially at this level, and first-class medical support is essential to facilitating our players feeling confident to take the field. This was borne out by all involved here and from speaking to the Sevenoaks Director of Rugby today, he wants to send “a big thanks to your medical team who worked with ours to make sure he was ok”….and the important thing is that Sam is, indeed, “ok” suffering the after-effects of a concussion and, thankfully, nothing worse.

Such a long mid-game break is inevitably disruptive, but I think it is fair to say that it was Oaks who picked up the tempo best from hereon in for the last half-hour of play. It took strong Tom Pithouse and Hawkins tackles to keep Oaks at bay, but it was quickly a case of “deja-vu” (again!) as an attacking line-out was set in the same right-hand corner as before the injury break. Again, Sedgwick found Coleman and it looked inevitable that the hooker would gain what would have been (for him) a very special hat-trick of tries as the maul surged forward. However, with the home pack putting up a sterner defensive effort this time, Mr Boyle was clearly in on a case of “jug avoidance” as he blew for a penalty try instead of allowing Sedgwick to dot down. 72 minutes (on the running clock) and it was now 0-31.


From the re-start marauding Oaks flanker Fred Richardson carried strongly but Wells were still in there battling. Hawkins (prior to a head injury ending another huge shift early),scrum-half West, both Doherty brothers and Talbot continued to play with great pride, but this was now turning into the proverbial “tough day at the office”. Hobbs gathered a cross-field kick and almost eluded the Oaks cover but a fine Fotheringham tackle brought him down.
Oaks attacked from a scrum and the elusive Pellegrini beat two players before finding the supporting Fotheringham, who in turn drew full-back Wallace and fed inside to scrum-half Henry Galligan, taking the “number 9 line” to cross for the try. Adams converted and it was 0-38 on 82 minutes.


Hobbs almost got on the end of another chip through, only for Morris to gather the ball in the face of three chasing Wells players. Oaks forwards Matt McCrae and Coleman drove through the Wells defence, but brave last-ditch cover held them out, only for Charley Smith to be sent to the sin-bin. Oaks went to the tried and tested line-out, but this time it launched flanker Richardson on a rumbustious run that saw him break through 4 tackles to get the try. Adams converted and although there was still 6 minutes of injury time to play that was to be the end of the scoring.


Tunbridge Wells 0 Sevenoaks 45


Squad: Toby Wallace; Jack Smith (Rich Murray), Angus Horne, Mike Doherty (captain), Max Hobbs; Luke Giles, Tom West; Charley Smith, Stuart Nicholls (Tommy Justice), Gabriel O’Brien, Tom Pithouse, Jack Lord (Josh Brockman) Josh Hawkins, Toby Talbot, Nick Doherty.


I’ll end where I started. Based on league results thus far this game went very much to form, despite no lack of spirit or effort from the Wells’ lads, and it will be no surprise if this Sevenoaks squad that has been building and strengthening over the past 3-4 seasons go on to challenge for the league title. For Wells, the immediate task at hand is clear – to patch up some of the walking wounded and re-group ahead of another “Kent” derby next week against 11th placed Westcombe Park. 


As Interim Director of Rugby Chaz Spence recently pointed out, with a brand new squad and coaching team, the club is having to take this as a “long-term plan and it’s going to take some time to bring it all together…and it’s taking time for it all to come together on the pitch in an extremely competitive league”. Ahead of the league re-structuring at the end of this season, if a transition year was needed, he correctly points out that “then this is probably a good year to do it”. However, whilst the top teams in this division are now clearly self-evident, Wells should, as a minimum, be looking to garner wins against those sides in the bottom half of the league, and the game at Orpington next Saturday would be a good place to kick-start this. All travelling support will be gratefully received.


In other results, Sevenoaks’ squad strength was evident in their II XV’s 9-74 win against a weakened Wells equivalent, but on a brighter note the Wells’ Under 14s A&B beat their Sevenoaks opponents by an aggregate of 22 tries to 3. 

Graham Withers

Hertford RFC 17 TWRFC 8

On a dry but overcast Saturday afternoon TWRFC travelled to Hertford RFC for this 1st XV fixture.  Hertford have been there or thereabouts in this league over recent seasons finishing in 4th, 5th & 4th over the last three seasons.  Our last two visits to Hertford resulted in very close losses with only two points in it on our last visit, and just one point the season before.  This was all set to be another tough but well-matched encounter between the two clubs.

The tannoy was deployed from the outset, and regularly throughout the match, to the delight of the vociferous home crowd.

As has been the case so often this season it wasn’t long before Wells conceded an early try.  Hertford showed their game plan and it was simple, yet effective. Utilise a well-drilled pack to set the foundation. Phases. Work to suck the defence in, then use fast ball through hands out wide.  In the 4th minute the ball found its way out to the Hertford 15, Charlie Parkhouse, who made no mistake and took it in. 5-0. He was to be a challenge all afternoon!

The Hertford pack was a little stronger throughout the first half, but for the most part not so much that it posed significant problems. There was no further score for 25 minutes. During this time Ali Main came off after a head knock, replaced by Rich Murray.

Wells ground their way back into the match playing for long periods in the Hertford half. A succession of penalties relieved pressure though, and it was Hertford again putting points on the board in the 30th minute.

Hertford made good ground taking the attack into the Wells 22m.  The ball headed out wide and found a Hertford prop who ran straight.  Wells defence stood off and after 10m he offloaded to Charlie Parkhouse for his brace.  10-0

Two minutes later a high tackle by the Hertford 8 on Max Hobbs saw him receive a yellow card.  A nice central penalty then gave Luke Giles the opportunity to put Wells on the board. 10-3.

This was a brutally physical encounter throughout.  Only a few minutes later and Jake Smith was on the wrong end of an entirely fair but crunching tackle which saw him leave the field.

Just on the stroke of half time there was one notable scrum which saw Wells pushed straight back some metres.  Toby Talbot came away with the ball, but the ref called a penalty for Hertford, with some confusion pitch-side as to the reason. Hertford missed the kick and half time came. 10-3.

There was some concern among the travelling support about the strength of that last scrum and what it could mean for the second half, but although Hertford had started strongly Wells certainly weren’t out of the running having matched them for most of the half and with Hertford playing downhill.

Much would depend on the first score of the second half.

Wells claimed the ball quickly after kick-off and kicked through. It was the Hertford 15 who was first to the ball and touched it down in the in goal area.  From the drop out Nick Doherty received and carried.  The ensuing ruck led to a Hertford infringement giving Wells the opportunity to put some points on the board with a penalty kick, but unfortunately the ball came back off the post.

Continued pressure from Wells saw play mostly between the halfway line and Hertford’s 22m for long periods of time.  The Hertford 10 earned himself a yellow and Wells made the most of it with a penalty kick to the corner for the lineout.  Stu Nicholls threw to the front man, Gabe O’Brien, who returned it to Stu Nicholls and he made no mistake taking it in to the corner for a diving try. 59 minutes played. 10-8. A well-worked and thoroughly deserved try.

A few minutes later, frustratingly, Charley Smith earned himself a yellow for a tip tackle meaning both sides were now down to 14.

The 66th minute saw Hertford’s first significant second half foray into Wells half with a 60m break, only stopped with a last ditch tackle. Pressure was relieved and play gradually moved back up field. As Wells worked to find those few points to take the win Hertford retrieved the ball once more and built pressure.  With a strong break from the Hertford 12 in the 80th minute it was all hands to defence.  Hertford spun the ball out once more, and although there were three Wells defenders on the final man, with pace and momentum Hertford managed to ground the ball for the final score of 17-8.

Every Wells player on the pitch put in a full shift.  Once Hertford’s game plan was clear we countered and minimised their opportunities to put points on the board.  This was the most physical match of the season thus far, and every player put their body on the line doing what was asked of them.  As frustrating as this start of the season has been at times, it’s clear that all of the components of a winning squad are in place and the wins will come.

Next week sees us welcome Sevenoaks 1s & 2s to St. Mark’s. The 2nd XV k.o. is 1.30pm with the 1stXV fixture at 3pm.

Weekend Round Up 16/17 October

Saturday 16th October

1st XV                   20 – 21         Sutton & Epsom (Home)

3rd XV                   14 – 8          Old Gravesendian 2s (Home)

Sunday 17th October

U14B                      20 – 20         Old Elthamians (Home)

Ladies U15              60 – 5           Medway RFC (Away)

Ladies U18              27 – 5           Heathfield & Waldron (Away)

TUNBRIDGE WELLS RFC 1ST XV 20 SUTTON AND EPSOM 1ST XV 21

TUNBRIDGE WELLS RFC 1ST XV          20             SUTTON AND EPSOM 1ST XV          21.

 

Despite a week’s rest across the London and SE Premier league Wells still found themselves with 9 squad members on the injured list and so had to dig deep for selection. Luke Giles started at fly half, Josh Hawkins came into the second row, Tom Pithouse was added to  the bench to bolster the forwards along with Richard Webster who provided cover for the back row despite normally plying his trade on the wing. The crowd was a good one of close to 200 and all anticipated- given past results- a relatively close game.

 

S and E were quickest off the blocks and applied pressure and back penetration in the first 10 mins playing down the hill, eventually taking advantage after several phases of play to score ‘round the corner’  through right wing Brad Meeson with full back Sam Hurley adding the extras 0-7 (10 minutes).

From this point onwards in the first half Wells produced some of their best play of the new season suggesting that the side could settle down and work as a unit. Luke Giles took advantage of better territory in the S and E half to nail a low hit penalty on 13 mins to peg the score back to 3-7. At this stage the Wells pack benefitting from some hard set scrum sessions with coach Ben Kayser established  ascendancy through props Charley Smith and Gabriel O’Brien and hooker Stuart Nicholls earning a number of penalties as S and E were driven backwards or stood up in the front row. A succession of these penalties finally causing the referee to lose patience on 23 minutes when he awarded the home side a penalty try as S and E again tried illegally to counter their inexorable march backwards 10-7.

 

Wells continued to take advantage of the solid platform in the scrum and clean line out ball to continue to pressure S and E on or in their 22. A succession of sweeping handling moves getting the home side to within 15 metres of the line. Fly half Luke Giles then making an astute inside break to pass to Toby Wallace  who cut a great line across the grain to score under the posts with Giles converting for a 17-7 lead on 29 minutes.

 

The rest of the half saw Wells still dominant in territory but one or two passes went astray and a couple of kickable penalties were turned down in order to kick to the corner where possession was lost at the ensuing line out. Nevertheless with the score remaining 17-7 at half time and with the downhill slope in the second half the home crowd was happy.

 

Sadly despite such a good first 40 minutes the first 10 minutes of the second half saw Wells forced back into their own 22 and then centre Ali Main was given a yellow card for an offence in the loose on 51 minutes. As is often the case the S and E side saw encouragement and within 2 minutes of Main’s departure No 8 Matt Whitaker forced his way over with Hurley again adding the points 17-14. Despite the home side finding it difficult to duplicate the scrum dominance and line out accuracy of the first half and losing some possession in the tackle they did manage to force their way into the S and E half and on 57 mins Giles slotted his second penalty to give Wells a 20-14 lead. The last 20 minutes then assumed an air of inevitability to it as with no bench replacements the props had to play out 80 minutes and an injury in the backs caused a reshuffle with Giles going to full back and Jack Anderson assuming the fly half duties. Persistent pressure from the visitors made it difficult for Wells to relieve pressure in their 22 and when they did have the ball often tried to run it laterally out of their half. Ultimately with a tiring pack and a confident S and E side battering the line something had to give in the Wells defence and on 73 minutes after a succession of pick and goes sub Ross Parsons scored halfway out on the right and Hurley made no mistake with the conversion 20-21.

Despite Wells trying desperately to relieve the stranglehold full time came with them still trying to get out of their 22 and at the wrong end of the field to affect the final score.

 

This was one of the best first half performances by the Wells this season but a little inexperience in a young side, a yellow card  and a tiring front five meant they couldn’t hold out for what at halftime looked a well- managed winning game. Credit to Sutton and Epsom who put in a spirited second half and prevented Wells from a couple of potential scores in the first half which would have let the home side run away with the game. A losing bonus point was little consolation but as this squad gets used to playing with each other and some of the injured return they will surprise one or two sides at this level as they look to rebuild over the next two seasons.

 

Next Saturday 23rd October sees a tough away visit to Hertford KO 3 00pm before the big local derby with a high flying Sevenoaks at St Marks on the 30th October

This weekend 16th and 17th October

This weekend we have:

Saturday 16th October

1st XV – Sutton & Epsom (Home) – 3pm k.o.
3rd XV – Old Gravesendian 2s (Home) – 3pm k.o.

Sunday 17th October

U8 – Sevenoaks (Home) 9am-10.30am
U12 – Sevenoaks (Away)
U14 – Old Elthamians (Home) – 11.30am k.o.
Ladies U15 – Medway RFC (Away)
Ladies U18 – Heathfield & Waldron (Away)

Tunbridge Wells RFC launches community led development plans

Tunbridge Wells RFC (TWRFC) has submitted a planning application for the construction of a new ‘3G’ artificial grass pitch to be constructed alongside the existing first XV pitch. The application also encompasses an expansion in parking at the club, a relocation of a cricket square and a new storage building.

TWRFC has a thriving youth and woman’s section alongside its successful senior section. Squad numbers are expanding each year with its under six level intakes doubling inside 5 years. The club is also reaching out into the community to support primary schools and schools with special educational needs, to progress and promote access to active sport for all ages, abilities, and backgrounds.

Proposed 3G Pitch (Minifie Architects)

The proposed development is a continuation on the club’s focus on improving playing facilities following on from a six-figure investment in the drainage at the club over the summer. TWRFC hopes these plans, once delivered, will accelerate ambitions for a new sporting hub at St. Marks

Mike Rigby, Club Chairman commented ‘This is a hugely exciting moment for the club. The proposed development will transform the facilities at St Marks allowing the club to move forwards but also giving opportunities to local schools, clubs and other community groups to be able to benefit from the facilities. The club is committed to improving facilities and being at the heart of the community, this application represents our ambition’

TWRFC Ambassadors (l-r) David Strettle (England), Tammy Samuels (England), Martin Corry (England & Lions) and Ben Kayser (France) support the launch

To support the application an event was held at the club to formally launch the plans to TWRFC supporters and to start the fund-raising efforts. “The event was designed to let members and supporters know more about the development plans” said Steve Daly, Head of the Development Committee. “We had a great turn out including some of our club ambassadors and former Rugby Internationals Martin Corry (England & Lions), David Strettle (England), Ben Kayser (France) and Tammy Samuels (England). The event was the first of a number that will be held in the coming months and we were pleased with the level of interest. Should a person or business that is focussed on corporate social responsibility, be interested in our project, we are open for partnerships. Please contact us”.