Wells started this game with changes at hooker and second row as Stuart Nicholls took the hooker position and Christian Earle returned to the second row. In the backs Mike Doherty returned from injury to be joined in the centre by George Montgomery. Newcomer Richard Murray started on the right wing and skipper Ryan Taylor- Dennehy returned to full back.

Wells were soon dominating play and territory and after 10 minutes should have finished a sweeping move on the right but didn’t quite get there. On 11 minutes and within 2 meters of the try line on the left Sand E winger Kyren Ghumra intercepted and went the length of the field to score with Sam Hurley converting 7-0.

Within a minute though Wells had replied as skipper Taylor – Dennehy chipped over the defence for Jake Caddy to score on the left 7-5.

Wells continued to dominate in the scrummage and with turnover ball being earnt by a strong back row of Allen, Nick Doherty and Hathaway. It took though until the 26 th minute for a penetrative run from Mike Doherty to earn a penalty which Frank Reynolds kicked 7-8.

Hurley kicked another penalty on 33 mins as Wells strayed offside 10-8and then contrived whilst pressing on the S and E line to give the ball to Ghumra again who needed no prompt to sprint the length of the pitch again to increase the home sides lead at the break to 15-8.

Despite this score the Wells players and supporters believed they could take the second half as SAnd E had not breached the Wells defence in open play and had been blowing hard as the half came to a conclusion.

It did not take long to see S and E’s lead reduced as on 45 minutes Caddy threatened the home line in the corner only to be taken out with a high tackle and referee Mike Lamb signalling a penalty try 15-15.

S and E hit back shortly afterwards with a further penalty from Hurley 18-15 but by then it was one way traffic as when S and E had the ball they were one dimensional and Wells dominated possession and position.

On 56 minutes Murray took a high ball and fed wide as Mike Doherty carved an arc to the line taking the try under the posts for Reynolds to convert 18-22.

Wells continued to pin S and E in their own half as they applied the screw punching up at close quarters and then testing the home side out wide as the forwards continued to win turnover ball. Ultimately S and E had to crack and it was Mike Hathaway taking a great line from deep who took a flat pass and powered over under the posts for Reynolds to convert on 75 minutes 18-29 and the try bonus point.

The game came to a conclusion with Wells camped in the home 22 and there was still time for George Montgomery to slot a low drop goal to seal a 18-32 win which moves Wells up to 10th against an S and E side in 5th place before the game started.
Wells will need to maintain this improved form next Saturday at St Marks when they entertain Tring KO 3 00 pm.

Squad: Crosilla, Nicholls, Williams, Straeche, Josh Hawkins, Earle, Pentney, Hathaway, Allen, Nick Doherty, Edmonton, Reynolds, Murray, Montgomery, Mike Doherty, Caddy, Spicer, Taylor- Dennehy.

Sutton & Epsom (Home)

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A dry day gave way to wind and rain as these two sides took to the field with the home side having the wind and rain to their backs in the first half. Max Douch took over scrum half duties as Chas Spence recovers from his jaw injury, Mike Doherty replaced Shaydn Osgood and Max Hobbs came onto the bench for his first game.

Wells started at pace and had well taken tries by Mike Doherty 6 minutes and Ryan Taylor – Dennehy after a Nick Doherty chip forward in the first 10 minutes to which Frank Reynolds added a penalty after 15. (15-0).

It took this long for Sutton and Epsom to get going but with picking and driving they started to get into the game. The Wells defence led by it’s back row were not giving an inch and they could find no way through or over the gain line.

When the home side had the ball they handled very well in the conditions and Reynolds at fly half used the ball intelligently to kick field positions.

As a result more tries followed at regular intervals, through Gus O’Grady after a patient pick and drive 28 mins, through Kyle McGarvie from a pushover on 30 mins (which collected Wells 12 th Try bonus of the campaign) and the try of the game on 38 minutes as Blaise Salle burst up the right and handed the ball on to Matt Spicer whose pace took him the remaining 35 metres and in under the posts. With Reynolds kicking boots well tuned he kicked this from the touchline to make it 4 out of 5 conversions and a halftime lead of 36-0.

If the back row deserved a special mention in the first half with all three, Nick Doherty, Mike Hathaway and Dave Allen having exceptional games the front row of Brendan Crosilla, Kyle McGarvie and Josh Pankhurst were also instrumental in the Wells dominance in the set scrum.

The pace slowed to some degree as Wells faced the wind and Sutton and Epsom enjoyed more of the ball but the Wells defence continued to hold as they added further tries through Frank Reynolds after a kick ahead on the counter from Taylor – Dennehy on 49 mins ( 43-0) and from Mike Hathaway after a 50 metre pick and drive had been repelled but not the ensuing line out and attack out wide to the left. Reynolds kicking both of the conversions to make his personal tally for a great afternoons work 20 points.

With a lead of 50 points by the 67 th minute it was probably not surprising that Wells took their foot off the gas to some degree as the surface became more difficult. S and E upped their game and displayed great spirit as the game went into a long injury time period scoring tries through sub Joe Ridgly on 80 minutes and from skipper and scrum half Steve Munford from a tap penalty on 86 minutes.

Wells Coach Simon Whatling was pleased with the way Wells played in the conditions and said: ‘we had a great Thursday training session with over 40 in attendance. It’s pleasing to see work on the training paddock paying dividends on a Saturday both at First and second team level, where our seconds narrowly beat leaders Sevenoaks in Kent Invicta 1.

This Saturday sees Wells at local neighbours Westcombe Park KO 2 30 PM as they seek to retain a top six place.

Roger Clarke.


Sutton & Epsom (Away)

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Match report by Owain Withers

Tunbridge Wells travelled to Sutton and Epsom for the first time in several seasons for the sixth game in their London South East Premier Division campaign. Injuries from the previous week’s impressive win over Towcestrians saw recalls for club stalwart Tim Collins at prop, Alex Burman at lock and Hayden Pengelly at flanker with Ciaran Lee and Matt Spicer coming on to the bench.

The game began cagily but exploded into life on 8 minutes. A scrappy line out win left Wells with a ruck on their own 22, with merely a few feet of blindside to work with Charles Spence made a quick dart along the touchline and exploded up the field, the ball was moved to the supporting Pengelly who fed Max Douch and he sprinted to the try line from halfway to score, conversion missed, 0-5. The game continued to be fairly even and S&E took the points on offer when awarded a penalty on the left hand side, 3-5.

Spence was making a strong start to the game and again exploited the fringes to make a break from half way. However as the tryline beckoned the attempted pass to the support was gathered by the oppositions retreating 9.

S&E were next to score on 20 minutes, a strong maul rolled them up the field and their fly half went over for the score, 8-5. Their rolling maul was used to good effect again 10 minutes later, this time resulting directly in a try, 13-5. Between the two S&E scores Wells unfortunately lost Burman to a head injury with Mac Popham replacing him.

S&E had been the better side for the middle portion of the first half but Wells certainly dominated the end of it. Wells had an opportunity for points after a strong run by Douch from the back of a maul led to a penalty for not rolling away, the penalty was missed but the pressure was about to tell. A good backs move led to Blaise Salle being held up in the left hand corner but the ensuing scrum resulted in a try. Nick Doherty broke off the scrum to place the pass to his brother Mike who despite fumbling it managed to force his way over, 13-10. With only a few minutes left on the clock until half time Wells managed to build further phases which resulted in a penalty slightly to the right of the posts which was kicked by Reynolds, 13-13. The penalty offence saw the opposition 7 sent to the bin.

The balance of play from the first half was fairly reflected by the score. Both teams had good passages of play but had plenty to improve on heading into the second half but it certainly came at a better time for the home side.

Despite the man deficit S&E started the second half much stronger and after a few minutes led 20-13. Wells conceded a free kick for an early push at the scrum 5 metres in front of their own posts and after a few phases the home side were over. They then further extended their lead, when Pengelly was penalised for not rolling away at the ruck and given a yellow for his troubles. The penalty was kicked, 23-13.

With half hour remaining Wells stepped up their game and it was their turn to use the rolling maul to great effect. The first maul,off their much improved line out from previous weeks, surged from the 10 metre line to the opposition 22. It was only halted when it was illegally pulled down with S&E’s no.8 sent to the bin. Wells put the ball into the corner and set the maul again, it fell short of the line but Spence was there to burrow over. Reynolds nailed the conversion 15 metres to the left of the posts, 23-20.

Following the try there was a 10 minute period where neither side managed to dominate the game as both sides looked for territory. On the hour mark Dave Allen made a surging run upfield after picking and going from the ruck. However when the momentum was halted and Wells were penalised at the ruck, S&E went back up the pitch. It was at this time that Shaydn Osgood was penalised in front of Wells’ posts for what can only be presumed as hitting the opposition player too hard! The penalty awarded was much to the disbelief of the players and crowd but the result was a 26-20 scoreline.

With 10 minutes remaining Wells took the lead for the first time in the game. Nick Doherty did well to secure the ball at the back of the scrum, it was worked out to the backs and Ryan Taylor-Dennehy dotted down in the left hand corner; Reynolds struck a terrific conversion to make it 26-27.

The remaining 10 minutes was the most physical of the game as both sides defended resolutely and attempted to move up the field. On 73 minutes S&E set a maul 30 metres out but play was stopped and Mike Hathaway was shown a red card having been adjudged to have struck an opponent. However this meant the home team had a chance to take the lead, but the penalty was missed. Wells had 7 minutes to hold out with 14 men and they were doing so stoutly until 79 minutes played. The referee then penalised Wells for being in front of the kicker and after much deliberation the penalty was awarded on the right hand side 30 metres out from the try line and 10 metres from touch. Much to the travelling sides relief the kick was missed again and the visitors defended successfully for the remaining minute to secure the bonus point win.

It was a well deserved, hard-fought win for Tunbridge Wells, however S&E will believe they could and maybe should have won it. This terrific team effort sees Wells move up to 8th in the league with intentions of building on their 3 wins from their first 6 games in London South East Premier and games like this stand them in good stead.

Squad: Ryan Taylor-Dennehy; Blaise Salle, Shaydn Osgood, Mike Doherty, Max Douch (Matt Spicer); Frank Reynolds, Chaz Spence (Capt); Tim Collins (Ciaran Lee), Luke Hawkins, Carl Straeche, Mike Hathaway, Alex Burman (Mac Popham), Hayden Pengelly, Dave Allen, Nick Doherty.