Wells made only two changes to the the squad who had won at Sutton and Epsom the week before. The starting XV remained unchanged Richard Webster returned to the bench after injury and was joined by debutant Ben Isbell.
Tring have had a good start lying 3rd in the league before kick off and despite Wells having the wind and the slope in the first half both sides demonstrated the art of defence to a high degree.Wells got on the scorecard first on 7 minutes as fly half Frank Reynolds kicked a penalty but within minutes Wells began to concede more penalties than they wanted and it was no surprise when Ben Criddal tied the score at 3-3 after 15 minutes. For the next 15 minutes the defences continued to dominate but with the Wells front row in particular of Ben Williams, Stuart Nicholls and Brendan Crosilla in particular. and the rest of the pack in general getting on top. Tring though dominated possession aided by Wells discipline which continued to earn a flurry of penalties for offences in the loose. From one of these Tring went ahead on 30 minutes with another Criddal penalty 3-6.
It took, though, indiscipline for the opposition as one of their back row forwards earnt a yellow in the 39th minute to create the next score as Wells punched up from the ensuing penalty and then spun wide to No8 Nick Doherty who picked up a bouncing ball committed the opposition and fed brother Mike for the try. This gave Wells a halftime lead of 8-6 and perhaps a thought that a slender lead would not be enough.
Whatever Coach Simon Whatling
said at half time the home team held a higher position and gained a greater share of ball after the break with dominance continuing in the scrum and Nicholls hitting his jumpers in the line out in tricky conditions to give the required platform.
Tring discipline then snapped as a further player was sent to the bin on 43 minutes leaving them 5 minutes to survive 2 down. Wells kicked the penalty to touch won the ball and from the ensuing maul Josh Hawkins catapulted forward and reached the line for an unconverted try 13-6.
It was a credit to Tring that they conceded no further points in this period but the extra defending tells and did so ultimately on this occasion. Both sides continued to test each other’s defences and Wells were able to maintain their higher field position as they produced a series of turnovers in a seriously physical encounter.
On 62 minutes Tom Newton reduced the points difference with a third Tring penalty 13-9 and within a minute as Wells came back to threaten the visitors line Christian Earle received a yellow for a deliberate knock down. Rather than concede though Wells ripped up the form book charging back up the field to score as fly half Reynolds ricocheting like a pin ball wizard went over from 20 metres on 69 minutes and converted his own try 20-9.
With Earle back on the pitch and with the penalty count going up again Wells spent a lot of the last 10 minutes defending well and tenaciously. Both backs and particularly the loose forwards put in a huge tackle count as Tring applied the pressure, finally breaking through at the right corner through centre Noah Jarvis after Wells had failed to hit touch from a clearance kick 20-14 on 79 minutes. Wells survived despite a second yellow card issued to Mike Hathaway just before injury time to take the win.
This was one of the most hard fought and high quality victories since the Wells joined this league and shows that they are now back in last years form.
Next Saturday sees the town side visit Bedford Athletic KO 2 30 pm looking to move up the table before a rest week on the 10th November.
Squad: Williams, Nicholls, Crosilla, Straeche, Hawkins, Earle, Hathaway, Allen, N Doherty, Isbell, Edmonton, Reynolds, Caddy, M Doherty, Montgomery, Murray, Webster, Taylor- Dennehy.
Man of the Match: Frank Reynolds.
Tough day out for Wells….
Tunbridge Wells travelled to Hertfordshire to face Tring in the London and South East Premier Division. It was the first time the teams have ever played each other and Wells received a warm welcome at Tring’s Cow Lane ground. The home team have enjoyed an unbeaten start to the season with three victories seeing them sit in third place in the league. They are seasoned campaigners at this level having spent most of the recent years playing in it and it was this experience that was to ultimately prove key.
Wells took a relatively settled squad to Tring but were forced to make several changes to the starting XV that had pushed league leaders Guernsey so hard last weekend. A rejigged front row saw Kyle McGarvie move to hooker and Carl Straeche start at prop. Charlie Dagwell started at 7 and Max Douch moved from wing to scrum half to replace injured skipper Chaz Spence.
Tring kicked off with the breeze and playing down a pronounced slope. This was a game where both sides defences would dominate but there was no lack of ambition with both sides looking to play open rugby.
Wells dominated the opening 20 minutes with Ryan Taylor-Dennehy and Richard Webster combining well after 5 minutes but the ball was split forward 5 metres from the line. Frank Reynolds and Taylor-Dennehy used a sensible kicking game to keep the visitors on the front foot but the line-out was having a frustrating day which meant there was little chance to build serious momentum. However, it was Wells who looked most likely to cross for a try at this stage with Blaise Salle looking dangerous and Douch taking on the home back row. Tring’s defence remained robust though but they did concede an offside penalty that Reynolds slotted on 11 minutes. 0-3.
On 20 minutes Douch made a searing break that saw him cover 35 metres but his pass to the supporting Hayden Pengelly went astray and it was a lack of precision, coupled with strong Tring defence, that meant Wells were unable to increase their lead despite dominating the opening quarter. On 27 minutes a ruck offence saw Tom Newton given the opportunity to level the game which he took. 3-3. He failed three minutes later with another penalty shot. but there was now very little between the teams as Tring started to come into the game.
On 35 minutes they took the lead after stringing together several phases of attacking play. The ball was transferred to lock Harry Green who crossed for the try and with Newton converting it was 10-3 and this was the score at half-time.
The second half saw the boys from St marks again start well with a Nick Doherty kick securing useful territory. However, Tring were using their line-out well and an effective rolling maul helped them to release the pressure. The game was now very tight with both sets of forwards working hard and the scrum was pretty evenly matched all day. Tring now grabbed hold of the game but in a mirror reversal of the first half passes went awry and poor options were taken when it looked like they might add a second try. They did extend the lead on 50 minutes though when Newton slotted a 40 metre penalty goal. 13-3.
Wells simply could not get their hands on the ball at this stage and when they did Tring worked very hard to snuff out any attacking threats. However, Wells were given a player advantage on 69 minutes when Tring had a player sent to the sin bin for repeated offences in their 22 and Reynolds took the three points that were on offer. 13-6.
The game was now up for grabs and there was also a potential losing bonus point at stake. However, on 78 minutes another penalty goal by Newton after a fine home attack extended Tring’s lead to 16-6 and this was how the game was to end.
Wells have had a tough start to their campaign playing three of the top teams already but they should be heartened by the fact that most sides thus far seem pretty evenly matched and that they can compete against all the teams they have yet to face. This was another strong defensive performance and were it not for some errant passes in the first half they could well have created a commanding lead. The margins are small at this level and they can feel unfortunate not to have secured at least a losing bonus point but overall Tring were good value for their win.
This week Wells host Towcestrians, again for the first time, with a 3pm kick off at St Mark’s. All support will be gratefully received as they try to get back into the winning habit.
Squad: Ryan Taylor-Dennehy; Blaise Salle, Shaydn Osgood, Mike Doherty, Richard Webster; Frank Reynolds, Max Douch; Brendan Crosilla, Kyle McGarvie, Carl Straeche (Luke Hawkins), Alex Burman (Mac Popham), Christian Earle, Hayden Pengelly, Charlie Dagwell, Nick Doherty (Capt).