Match Report: Shelford 27 – 34 TWRFC
TUNBRIDGE WELLS PROVE TOO STRONG
The weekend saw Tunbridge Wells travel to Shelford (and their artificial pitch) looking to right the wrongs of their heavy defeat to Wimbledon the previous week. Shelford finished 7th in the league last year, two places below Wells and had endured a tough start to the season with defeats to Sidcup and then Hertford. Each side won their home fixture between the teams last year and a competitive game was predicted.
There were a number of changes to the squad. An injury in training saw fly-half Frank Reynolds drop out of the side and Charlie Rigby moved from 9 to 10. Fellow junior product Max Edmonton, who has returned to the club after a near two year absence, started at scrum half. Captain Ryan Taylor-Dennehy moved to 13 as Rich Webster missed out through injury, Ollie Allman and Max Hobbs returned to the first team fold at fullback and wing respectively with Chester Clough the back reserve. The forwards saw changes too as Carl Straeche started at tighthead after impressing off the bench last week, with Brendan Crosilla onto the bench. Player coach Dave Allen made his first appearance of the season at flanker and new recruit Josh Hawkins started at second row with fellow newcomer Jamie Farris starting as sub.
On a warm and slightly breezy afternoon Shelford came out of the blocks very quickly. First blood went to Wells however, after a surging run by the back row of Hathaway and Allen and were rewarded with a penalty in front of the posts which Edmonton converted easily. Shelford came straight back retaining possession time after time frustrating Wells and this was soon rewarded after 8 minutes when Shelford were camped on the Wells line for the scrum half to jink his way through three poor Wells tackles to dive over the line between the posts. This was successfully converted. Wells then started to get back into the game but poor kicking out of hand and poor handling errors saw them losing possession and losing territory. Shelford again recycled the ball well and after 9 or 10 phases were rewarded again when Wells gave another penalty away on their 10 meter line. The Shelford full back stepped up and accurately converted to make the score. The game then went into a stalemate position with both sides making surging runs but turnover ball thwarting both sides. On 27 minutes Shelford increased their lead with a penalty kicked by their 15 from almost the same spot as previously.
Crosilla then replaced Straeche and the Shelford pack began to wilt. Strong running from Doherty, Hathaway and Allen lead the charge, followed by carries from Bailey saw Wells putting more and more pressure on the Shelford side who were starting to look tired. Hawkins began making a nuisance of himself and Wells had their heads up. All this pressure was rewarded after a solid 5 metre scrum saw skipper Ryan Taylor-Dennehy crash over just on half time, successfully converted by Edmonton, leaving the score 13-10 at half time.
Wells came out the second half full of energy and scored very quickly through Doherty and then soon after by Tom Bailey, who had a very strong game in the Centre. Edmonton converted bringing the score to 22-13. Wells continued the pressure through the scrummaging of Williams, Pankhurst and Straeche and again Wells scored with the pack powering their way over the line with Doherty touching down for his second try, again Edmonton converting, 13-29. Continued possession, strong running and constant pressure saw Wells striking again, this time with an excellent chip and chase for Ryan Taylor-Dennehy to go over for his second try, taking the score to 13-34.
Jamie Farris then replaced the workhorse of Josh Hawkins for his debut , however Shelford found their second wind and started to play their way back into the game with a try coming from their centre, converted and soon after on 79mins, what seemed to be a successful turnover Farris was sent to the bin for being off his feet. Shelford took advantage of the extra man and scored a converted try on 80 minutes. Final score 27-34.
Wells will take heart from this game, knowing that it was a much improved performance compared to the week before, however with next weeks’ encounter with Westcliff at home, unbeaten this Season, they know they will have to step up another gear to compete.