Category: Senior

BRIGHTON FOOTBALL CLUB (R.F.U) 23 TUNBRIDGE WELLS RFC 25

Wells travelled to Waterhall Playing Fields remembering the missed opportunities that had cost them the home leg of this fixture when Brighton had emerged victorious.

Things did not start well when the Wells kick off failed to travel 10 metres.  At the resulting scrum Wells were able to impose themselves as they continued to do throughout the game with the return of Gabriel O’Brien at tight head.  Would that the line out had also been so impressive. The first Wells throw in over the top saw Brighton take the ball and maintain possession in a series of sustained attacks.  Wells under pressure were adjudged offside at a ruck giving Brighton an easy shot at goal on seven minutes (3 – 0).  After a series of line outs and good Brighton possession Wells were again penalised for offside at a ruck.  Brighton kicked to the corner, won the resulting line out and executed an excellent front drive resulting in a try on 12 minutes (8 – 0).  The conversion from wide out was missed.  Wells kicked off, retained the ball and good quick ruck balls and two bullocking runs by Nick Doherty resulted in Brighton being penalised for offside.  Jack Anderson dutifully converted (8 – 3).

From the kickoff Brighton redoubled their efforts with their centre, Thomas Derrick, scoring a spectacular individual try in which he ran over half the length of the pitch before dotting the ball down under the posts.  The try was converted (15 – 3).  Play continued in the same vein with the Wells scrum dominant but their line out stuttering.  Wells went down to 14 when [Charley Smith] was penalised for a high arm in a ruck. Brighton again kicked to the corner, but this time Wells successfully defended the home side’s drive.  Wells won the resulting scrum but then lost Josh Hawkins to a nasty cut.  Wells turned over some Brighton loose ball causing the Brighton winger (Aled Edwards) to deliberately knock on for which he was yellow carded.  Both sides ended the half with 14 men.

Whatever new Director of Rugby, Simon Jervis, said at half time really had the desired effect as the Wells emerged for the second half a side transformed.  The line out now functioned well producing clean ball with the returning Josh Hawkins becoming more influential.  From a line out at the halfway Wells moved the balls through the half backs and a lofted miss pass from Ben Day put the electric Max Hobbs in for a try, converted by Anderson (15 – 10). Brighton were next to score when Wells were penalised again for offside (18 – 10).  Wells were now increasingly in charge recycling the ball quickly at rucks and getting their backs into the game.  One such move put Jack Smith away to score a try duly converted by Anderson (18 – 17). The Wells pack were now totally in charge at the set piece and Brighton were penalised at a scrum on their own 22, with Anderson converting to put Wells in the lead for the first time in the afternoon (18 – 20).  Brighton came back hard with some aggressive and effective play to regain the lead when the Brighton No 8, Josh Sailsbury, scored in the corner.  A difficult conversion was missed (23 – 20).  Wells did not roll over and were immediately on the offensive winning a line out 10 metres out from the Brighton line.  The ball safely secured, Wells drove over with replacement Chris Shorter touching down.   Another difficult conversion was missed (23 – 25). The match then played out with Wells increasingly controlling the game, dominating the scrum and even winning some opposition lineouts.

This was a good win for Tunbridge Wells who showed great spirit and energy throughout the afternoon. It came at a cost however with a number of injuries which might cause the coaching staff a selection headache as they prepare to welcome Maidenhead to St. Marks next Saturday.

 

 

 

TUNBRIDGE WELLS RFC 1ST XV 13 TRING RFC 1ST XV 17

 

 

After a very wet week and heavy rain on match day this game was switched from the main pitch at St Marks to the newly drained 2nd XV pitch at St Marks.

Despite a 4 week gap from their last game Wells had to look carefully at squad selection with James Mckeown making his debut for the injured Gabriel O’Brien, with Tom West returning at Scrum Half for Chas Rigby and Dillon Robertson starting at centre along with Ben Day on the bench.

 

The first 20 minutes of the game saw the conditions win over the continuity of the Rugby with Tring enjoying the Lions share of possession and territory as Wells found themselves penalised seven times by referee Simon Waite predominantly for not staying on their feet at the clear out. Wells start was not helped when debutant McKeown left the field after 2 minutes with a potential hamstring injury with Tom Pithouse moving to prop from second row the Wells scrum was disrupted from the start.

After a sequence of attacks in the 22 the  Wells  defence finally gave way on 12 minutes as Tring fly half Will Mitchell beat the cover with some smart footwork to score a try close to the posts and convert his own score 0-7.

 

Wells were not without their own opportunities as the referee penalised Tring as well in the difficult conditions giving fly half Jack Anderson chances from the kicking tee one of which was underhit on 14 minutes. Wells, however, as has often been the case this season began to enjoy a greater share of the ball in the second quarter with Stuart Nicholls on for hooker Luke Hawkins who replaced Pithouse in the second row. Wells produced a sustained attack on thirty minutes picking and driving to the Tring line where a combination of the visitors defence and the conditions thwarted the home side after a sequence of pick and drives culminated in a knock on within a meter of the try line.

Finally on  33 minutes Anderson scored a well struck penalty to peg the score back to 3-7 as the home side through pure doggedness in the loose and the tackle started to enjoy more ball and territory. This was despite losing Pithouse to a yellow card and unopposed scrums being introduced. With a return to 15 men as the half came to an end Wells were able through Anderson to score from another well struck penalty to bring the score to 6-7 at halftime.

 

The first half had been played in torrential rain and squally winds and the rain continued but at not quite at the intensity of the first half as the brave crowd of just over 100 waited to see if Wells could play against the elements.

 

Both sides defences won the day for much of the second period despite both sides suffering disruption with  Tring tight head Nick Brown being yellow carded on 57 minutes and unopposed scrums being reintroduced and then became a permanent feature as Wells’s Pithouse was injured and there were no more front row replacements. Both sides then went down to 14 after a fracas -with the home side close to scoring- which saw Tring’s Josh White and Wells’ Tom West both yellow carded in the last 10 minutes of the game with Ben Day taking over as the Wells scrum half.

 

The second half remained scoreless despite a high standard of handling in the conditions by both sides. It took until the 77th minute for the deadlock to be broken as Wells conceded three quick penalties in a row  the last of which put Mitchell in kicking range as he kicked a simple penalty for a 6-10 lead.

 

With the last minute of normal time on the clock Tring kicked along the floor for centre Ted Stanford to get the referees nod on the touch down despite a desperately close call.and Mitchell converted to give Tring a 6-17 lead.

Wells were not finished, however and with the rain finally ending produced some excellent handling as the ball was moved across the pitch and finally to skipper Mike Doherty who despite conditions underfoot did enough to get over for the try close to the left touchline with Ben Day producing a very good conversion on 87 minutes to bring the final score to 13-17 and to earn a losing bonus point.

 

After the first 20 minutes this was a brave performance in poor conditions for Wells with the whole team putting in a fine defensive shift and handling a large amount of disruption in the pack through injury and yellow cards. Wells are very close to producing the form to produce more wins in the second half of the season having already amassed 5 losing bonus points. This game could have gone either way as the Tring try at the end of the game was a desperately close call. The sort of call that if you are winning regularly will go your way. DOR Simon Jervis and coaches Ben Kayser and Dave Strettle will work on a hopefully fuller squad before Wells visit Brighton this Saturday KO 2 00pm.

Roger Clarke

Chairman’s Update

Members and friends of TWRFC,

Welcome to 2022 and Happy New year to all.

Firstly, I hope you are well, healthy and happy. It is of course great to be back to normal rugby but I am very conscious that there are still some very challenging problems in our community.

However, as we are at the half way point in the season I wanted to give you a club wide update. It has been a very busy first four months across all aspects of the club with plenty of rugby played so let’s have a quick tour of the club:

The Senior Section: 

We have three very divergent parts of our Senior club: The Elite squad; The Social side; and of course the Vets. One common feature across our club and many other clubs locally is a struggle for availability. The return to senior rugby is proving quite abrasive on the bodies of our seniors and we are seeing more soft tissue injuries and longer recovery periods. Hopefully this will diminish as our bodies re-acclimatise to contact.

The Vets have had one outing so far this season and two fixtures where the opposition have failed to raise a team, the latest being TJ’s. However, as you would imagine this has not held the Vets back. They have remained focussed on their training regime and are seen regularly at touch on a Tuesday and the bar on a Saturday. They have, as always also been actively supporting the social side in their fixtures.

Vets Pre-match Huddle

The Social side have also been out on the field of play and enjoying life back in Kent 5 rural league. They are presently mid-table having played 5, won 2. They have had nice wins against Old Gravesendians and Vigo. They did also record a win against Gravesend on Mute’s 40th birthday weekend, but as we fielded a squad of circa 30 we did have to offer them the walkover win!! Well played lads good to see you back and active.

The Elite squad is a having a tougher start to the season. We do of course have a completely new coaching set up and an evolving playing squad. As per my note earlier in the week we have recently made some changes to our coaching set up as we welcomed back Simon Jervis to the club as our Director of Rugby. He will continue to be well supported by Chaz Spence, Ben Kayser, David Strettle and Paddy Seymour. Stuart continues to lead all things senior rugby and I would like to thank him for all the hard work he has put in this year under tough conditions.

Elite Squad & Management Team

We have started see the fruits of some hard labour as the squad are playing some lovely rugby. It is particularly pleasing to see our pack looking strong and us winning scrum penalties at regular intervals. We are still lacking some squad strength and depth in key positions but are working hard to address these. I have to say I have really enjoyed watching the rugby this year and have huge admiration for our players who literally give their heart and soul for our club week in week out. Thank you.

Ben Kayser watching the IXV in action

The Youth section:

What a difference a year makes: This year we have had fixtures, festivals, training (in person) every single week. What’s more……the pitches have been in great condition and we have played every week!! We now have over 760 youth members and it has been great to see so many of them back at St Marks.

The reason for the success of our youth section is very clear: The incredible volunteer coaches that support every single age group. These ladies and men get qualified, plan sessions, complete endless admin, prepare kit, turn up bright faced and deliver an exceptional experience for our members week in week out. Thank you.

Thank you one and all you are keeping the future of TWRFC very much alive and growing. Thanks to Laurence, Martin and Alex for Chairing the Youth and the Mini’s. You will see from our social media we now publish every youth fixture and the result every weekend. We are keen for them to feel as special as any other team in this club. It also means I can see all the results and I have to say our U13’s are looking pretty unbeatable this season. Well played lads and good luck in the Kent Competition later this season.

The Academy: 

Andy has continued to keep his focus on the Academy in the first half of the season. As always this is the quieter half of the season as it overlaps with most of the local school rugby.

We are really keen to have a cracking second half of the season with some real focus on Strength and Conditioning as well as seeing our new DoR Jervo get heavily involved. We will also see Ben and Stretts get more involved as well as other local qualified coaches. Andy is really looking forward to having a great second half of the season.

As always a huge thanks to our first team players who are helping out and doing a brilliant job inspiring the next generation.

The Ladies section: 

It is great to see so many numbers across all our ladies age groups. Simon continues to steer the ship well with the addition of Kelsey helping out across the older age groups.

The U13’s are progressing well and are in the Kent waterfall competition. The U15’s are doing well in the league and are in the last 16 of the national cup. The U18’s are enjoying their rugby and rebuilding the squad back to previous years strengths. The over 18’s continues to grow as our mini-coaches, senior players partners and friends build towards pulling a side together.

Well done Simon and all the Coaches. But also well done to all the players, you have a real sense of community and are the fastest growing section of the club.

The Inner Warriors – Ladies Over 18’s

So lastly to the running of the club :

The Commercial team: 

I would like to thank all our sponsors for their unwavering support this year. Many of our sponsors have been with us for many years and they enable this great club to trade on year after year having the impact we do on so many young lives. We have also added several new sponsors this year like:

Tunbridge Wells Taxis 888 tunbridgewellstaxis.co.uk ;

Pringle Insurance pringleinsurance.co.uk ;

Prestige Plumbing prestigeplumbers.co.uk ;

Benchmark Brewery Benchmark Brewery | Craft Beer | Eridge | Tunbridge Wells ;

Willowstick willostix.co.uk | English Willo Cricket bats

Easistore Storage Tunbridge Wells – Self Storage Units for Hire Kent (easistore.co.uk).  

Your support is helping us so much, thank you.

We are under no illusion the ability to get new partners/sponsors is always hard but we are ambitious and determined. If you know anyone who would like to sponsor our club please do let Simon Hughes or Andre Van Zijl know.

Operations: 

Membership: Has been a huge success again this year. Martin has brought real discipline to this via Spond and its starting to make a real difference as well as being really useful to track attendance. A record year for membership numbers and of course membership fees. We presently have over 750 youth members and 136 senior players. In addition we have well over 100 VP and social members. All round a good bunch of members who enjoy being part of our very special Club. Thank you for your support of your local club. 

Pitches: Well this is the first year we haven’t cancelled training for the weather!! The money we have spent on draining pitches two and three has made a real difference and they are in great condition. Long may this last!! We are now doing some work on refreshing the drainage channel along the north side of the site to make the training paddock drainage move away from our site.

Clubhouse: The cafe trades well and continues to be a great addition to our food & beverage provision, But the highlight of the first half of this season has been the arrival of Julia as our new landlady. She of course arrives with her partner in crime (Nick) and we have all felt the impact of her arrival: New drink choices being trialled; Halloween themes; Christmas decorations; and most importantly a lovely warm welcome to everyone who arrives in. No surprise that as a result of all of this we are seeing increased turnover through the Clubhouse.

The Future of the Club: 

Steve Daly and his team continue to make good progress on the AGP, Parking, Storage facility and Cricket pavilion project. Our planning permission is in which reflects a huge milestone in this project. Special thanks goes to Rich Bains for his huge personal efforts for the club. The fundraising is under way and has made a good start but as you will imagine there is still lots to do!

If you wish to support this project them please:

  • Comment favourably on the planning permission – TWBC comments are now closed but there’s still time to comment on the planning application with Wealden:

https://planning.wealden.gov.uk

Reference: WD/2021/2544/MAJ

  • Help with our fundraising either through grant applications, community fundraising or personal contributions. Please get in contact with Steve Daly if you believe you can help.

Well done Steve and team, your efforts on behalf of the club are much appreciated. 

Our Ambassadors – David Strettle, Tammy Samuel, Martin Corry and Ben Kayser support support the launch of the AGP plan

Impact on our community:

We know that as a club we have always had a significant impact on our community through volunteering work and social impact work e.g. fundraising for local charities (like Nourish)  and supporting local events (like Dunorlan Fireworks). During the pandemic our volunteer coaches also had a huge impact on the mental wellbeing of our members through virtual sessions and social events. We also continue to be a site where you can see: rugby tots happening; where BMF perform weekly fitness sessions; schools tag festival occurs; schools rugby/cricket matches happen; county schools cross-country competition occurs; dog training classes happen; acting societies practice; county over 70’s cricket occurs; our community enjoy walking with their dogs (on a lead!); and of course occasionally the Air Ambulance lands. Hence our impact locally is significant but we now wish to strive to have more impact away from St Marks.

So this year we have made a conscious effort to build out our community coaching impact. We have always supported ad-hoc requests for our local schools with visits from our parent helpers but now we have looked to offer more structure and formalise this offering. The arrival of Jack and Kelsey has certainly helped this: We have already 125+ sessions in 8 local schools. This is amazing and reflects our biggest ever community impact.

So in summary:

Not the year any of us wanted, but we have kept on performing our valuable role in our community.

  • We have a growing youth and ladies section
  • We have a successful academy
  • We are ever closer to our #oneTWRFC ambition
  • The number of volunteers are growing but we do need more!
  • We are financially stable and operationally organised
  • We have direction and purpose for the future of St Marks.

Thank you to all our many volunteers and to everyone who keeps TWRFC at the heart of our Community.

COYW

Mike

Club Chairman

#oneTWRFC

Simon Jervis returns to TWRFC as Director of Rugby

Tunbridge Wells RFC have ambitions to build a squad capable of pushing on from the London and Southeast Premier League to be challenging for Level 4 rugby. To achieve this ambition we are delighted to welcome back Simon Jervis to TWRFC as our Director of Rugby. Simon is a Level 4 RFU Rugby Coach and has over 15 years working as a Director of Sport in a number of high performing state and private schools. He holds a BA (hons) in Sports Studies, Qualified Teacher Status and a Masters in Sports Management from The Cruyff Institute at The University of Barcelona. His coaching philosophy is one that looks to promote self-improvement with those he works with. He aims to do this by developing self-awareness in order to become self-reliant and self-governing.

Supporting Simon will be Chaz Spence as First Team Coach and player liaison. Chaz has valiantly stepped up as our interim DoR this season which has really helped consistency with the squad. Chaz has played for the club from mini rugby through to 1st XV captain. We look forward to supporting Chaz through his coaching qualifications and seeing him flourish in a coaching role.

The coaching set up will continue to feature Ben Kayser (Forwards coach) and David Strettle (Backs coach).  The level of coaching and international experience Ben and David bring is second to none locally. They have had a significant impact on the players they have coached and we continue to see new players arriving purely to experience one on one coaching from such esteemed internationals. This new structure will also see Ben and David start to deliver coaching within the academy and develop our player pathway from youth to adult.

We would like to thank David Marshall for all he has given to TWRFC and particularly for stepping into our DoR role at the end of last season. As a volunteer Dave gave much of his time to this club and added a real edge to the coaching team when he arrived in 2019.  We wish him luck with his commercial interests and look forward to seeing him watching from the touchline in the future.

Lastly, we would like to wholeheartedly thank Paddy Seymour for supporting Chaz so much this season.  He has been there at every league game and every week at training and brought real passion and northern grit to our coaching line up.  He will continue in his role as our defensive coach and will play a vital role in the new set up.

We hope these changes will see us pivot our season as the team look to enjoy a fresh start in 2022. We have played all teams once now and have lost out very narrowly on too many occasions. We are optimistic that with a focus on further professionalising our approach to coaching, improving our strength and conditioning and player recruitment we can build as the season progresses and come back stronger for the start of next season.

Welcome home Jervo.

 

Tunbridge Wells RFC is a successful senior rugby team playing at Level 5 in London and Southeast Premier League. We have a second team playing in Kent Invicta A league and a third team playing in Kent 5 Rural West. We also have a very social vets side who enjoy friendlies and an annual outing in the Kent Vets cup.

 

 

 

 

Havant RFC 41 – 17 Tunbridge Wells RFC

Tunbridge Wells RFC Match Report 11 December 2021

Wells travelled to Havant with high hopes after their excellent performance against second place Wimbledon the week before. The weather was still and dry with the game played on an artificial pitch under lights: perfect conditions for a running game.  Havant kicked off and a poor clearance from Wells put them under immediate pressure from the resulting line out.  Wells were judged offside in front of the posts allowing the Havant captain Joel Knight, one of three brothers playing in the Havant backs, an easy three points after two minutes.  Wells came back strongly and after a good solid scrum at which Havant were penalised Jack Anderson, the Wells stand off, converted to make the score level at three all after six minutes.  Havant now upped their game and scored a try in the corner after Wells had lost a line out on the opposition 10-metre line and Havant passed slickly down the line to put their winger in.  Knight was successful with the difficult conversion leaving Wells trailing 10 – 3 on 11 minutes. Wells came back again into the opposition 22 with the resulting pressure leading to a penalty kicked by Jack Anderson to bring the score to 10 – 6. Havant then altered their game tactics relying much more on their bigger, more powerful and aggressive forwards.   A driving maul following a line out close to the Wells line resulted in the ball being moved to the right and a Havant try.  The conversion was successful making the score 17 – 6 on 26 minutes.  Despite some good Wells play Havant were soon back putting pressure on the Wells line with a series of line outs and driving mauls which Wells defended well.  This defence came at a cost when the Wells second row, Tom Pithouse, was yellow carded on 35 minutes.  Another line out won by Havant resulted in more pressure on the Wells line with the Havant No 8, Gavin Hughan, going over from short range.  The try was converted, to make the score 24-6.  Havant scored their fourth try securing a winning bonus point before half time.  The conversion was missed leaving the score at   29 – 6.  Wells produced some good play to work the ball out of their 22 and when Havant were penalised at a subsequent scrum on the Havant 10-metre line Anderson produced another fine kick to bring the score to 29-9 at half time.  Wells, back to a full complement, started the second half brightly, nearly scoring from the kick off when Havant failed to deal with the ball. Further good Wells play including a fine break by Max Hobbs resulting in a penalty converted by Anderson on 54 minutes, 29 – 12.  But there was no dealing with the powerful Havant pack whose driving maul led to a further try two minutes later.  The conversion was missed leaving the score at 34 – 12.  Soon afterwards Wells were penalised at a scrum and a quick kick through allowed Hughan to touch down over the Wells line.  The conversion was successful, 41 – 12.  Wells again came back, and two excellent Wells scrums and smart handling produced an overlap to allow Jack Smith the Wells winger to score a try to produce the final score, 41 -17.

 

Alan Skinner

100 Club – November Draw

The results of the November Draw are:-

1st prize – No 24 Glenn Douglas £250

2nd prize – No 45 Tim McCabe £100

3rd prize – No 34 Kathy Skinner £50

Please contact Alan Skinner skinners205@btinternet.com if you would like to join.

TWRFC 15 Wimbledon RFC 19

TWRFC 15 – 19  Wimbledon RFC

As the league enters December we were met at St Marks by perfect rugby conditions. The ground was soft, the sky was blue and the air was crisp. As Tunbridge Wells kicked off the first half the home side were feeling far more positive following last week’s win away at CS Stags. The only changes to the Tunbridge Wells team were forced changes due to yet more injuries the previous week. However, it was great to see Duncan Hales back in a Blue and White shirt and his obvious 6 foot seven of threat in the line out.

Early exchanges saw the home side looking slightly stronger. In the scrum TWRFC won the first three, also winning two penalties and looking the more expansive side. The front row of Chris Shorter, Luke Hawkins and Gabe O’Brien were in complete control of the scrum and the row of Tom Pithouse/Duncan Hales were delivering the necessary power. The Scrum was going to be a useful tool for TWRFC.

With only four minutes on the clock TWRFC choose to have a kick at posts which Jack Anderson pulled wide. But after some strong continued pressure and 12 minutes on the clock Wimbledon let their discipline fall as their tight head prop was red carded for serious foul play off the ball. This was to further weaken their scrum which proved costly when Wimbledon lost their own scrum on their 5m line and TWRFC pushed them back over the try line for Nick Doherty to score.

Wells tails were up and they were turning over scrums, line outs and were taking advantage of the favourable slope, the numerical advantage and a long missed swagger in the step. This confidence saw the backs play the ball through hands from Mike Doherty to Ali Main for Toby Wallace to kick/chase for a very classy try. Jack Anderson converts for a 12-0 score line

The encounter was, to Wimbledon’s surprise, favouring the home team and this was leading to further indiscipline as The Dons sought to disrupt the Wells. Some more off the ball excitement saw some ‘hand bags’ in the Wimbledon half. It seemed to coincide with the arrival onto the pitch of Stuart Nicholls who was replacing the injured Luke Hawkins. The resulting scrum saw yet another penalty awarded to The Wells and Jack Anderson slotted the kick for a 15-0 lead at half time. The crowd were enjoying what they saw.

Everyone knew Wimbledon would come back strong in the second half and that they certainly did. The Wells scrum remained dominant, the Wells line out was reliable on their own ball and with Wells lifting up Duncan Hales in the line out Wimbledon were struggling to hit their man. But the midfield was where Wimbledon were targeting their attacking game. The Dons were enjoying good possession and the penalty count was starting to favour the visitors. On 56 mins the Wells defence leaked for the first time as a strong powerful run from the opposition centres came straight through the line 15-5. The game was turning and Wimbledon’s game plan was working.

Injuries were mounting and the structure of the game was breaking down. With injuries to Mike Doherty and a yellow card for Toby Wallace Wimbledon were finding gaps and on 76 mins and 77 mins Wimbledon found tries to take the score to 15-19.

But testament to the Wells spirit they came back with added fire in the bellies and were immediately on the attack. This resulted in another yellow for Wimbledon’s other prop. At which point the ref and the Wimbledon coach entered a very lengthy mothers’ meeting about their decision to go uncontested scrum and remove the wells threat.  After what seemed like an age Wimbledon then went down to 12 men. We were in for an exciting finish! Wells were in complete control but could not make the line. The Dons defended with determination and with the help of the refs decisions managed to see the game out for a very lucky win. Tunbridge Wells will be heartened by playing some fantastic rugby in the first half and being ever so close to taking the points. They are building together as a squad and looking stronger and stronger.

Next week Tunbridge Wells head to Havant for a long old road trip.

Mike Rigby

Continue reading “TWRFC 15 Wimbledon RFC 19”

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