MATCH REPORT: TWRFC 1XV (22) v CS Stags 1XV (15)

Match Reporter – Stuart Montgomery

Tunbridge Wells welcomed Stags to St Marks on a bright warm day with a brisk south easterly wind going straight down the pitch towards the Frant Road which would certainly determine the style of rugby. Wells played into the breeze first half and the first 15 minutes saw the play exclusively in their half and Stags were kept at bay by solid defence with the exception of a couple of kicks but lessons were learnt. Some great work at the breakdown on half way led to Stags flying off their feet and the penalty was given. Kick to Stags half just 35 metres out saw a tidy lineout and Wells looked good with the ball in hand and carries by Jay, Ben and Harrison led to another penalty on the 22 right in front of the posts – bread and butter for Jack and Wells led 3-0.

As is often the case Stags hit straight back from the restart and a knock on found a Wells player offside and the easy kick from just 22 out levelled the scores 3-3. Stags kept the pressure on Wells with some kicks behind the defence and from a missed touch kick they kept the ball for 3 or 4 phases to make space out wide on the right for a try by the winger, conversion missed – 3-8. Wells reacted positively for a brief visit to the Stags 22 but were deemed to be a bit over zealous at the breakdown to allow Stags an exit from their 22. On 30 minutes Stags extended their lead to 3-15 after some enterprising rugby and 5 phases at close quarters to force their way over, no mistake from the tee by the 10. Another good response from Wells saw Stags just resisting a sustained spell in their 22 to kick to half way. With just a minute to play Stags knocked on from an untidy line out, Wells kept possession from the scrum and started asking real questions of the Stags defence. Jay powered thru at close quarters and found Josh Curtis in the Stags 22 who showed great strength to take a couple of defenders with him over the try line. Mike Doherty kicked the conversion as Jack was off the pitch obtaining some treatment. Carter McLelland was on at wing and Mike was filling in at 10, Lock was off and Gab’s on at tighthead – the pressure was kept on Stags and another good break by Josh who fed Nick Doherty who offloaded well to the inside to Storkey. It was looking dangerous but a chip went the wrong way the half chance went begging. The last play of the half saw Stags kick deep into the Wells half and Whale just managed to win the foot race over the line. Half time saw the score at 10-15 which was pretty much a fair reflection of the game with the influence of the breeze.

Chapel Down Player of the Match – Jay Smith

Wells started the half as they had finished the first and were asking question of stags who now understood how hard it was to clear the lines. Stags defence just about held strong with some good line speed and the assistance of a couple of penalties from breakdown offences. Wells went close after a good catch in the lineout and a drive from 25 metres out ended with a penalty just a metre out. A strong tackle by Nick Doherty led to a penalty to Wells and Jack, recently back on the pitch, kicks from the 22 up to the Stags 40. Further player changes, David Lock, Jake Thompson, Carter McLelland all on with Josh Hawkins, George Bench and Anthony Storkey off. Wells continue to ask questions and the ball moved out to the right wing in the Stags 22, a long pass by Jack fell just short of Sam Williams on the wing but the ball was regathered and Sam scores in the corner to level the scores – Jack strikes a beautiful kick from the touchline for Wells to regain the lead 17-15. Just 2 plays later Wells were award a penalty on half way and Jack hits a great touch just 5 metres from the Stags line out on the left touch. A clean lineout and 5 or 6 phases is rewarded with a try by Mike Doherty from close quarters – 22-15.

The last 15 minutes saw both side down to 14 men for minor but cynical offences. Wells went over the line but the referee was unsighted and couldn’t give the try. Jake Thompson and Ali Main were seen to defend well with strong tackles taking players to ground and making it hard for Stags to play their offloading lively game. The last minutes of the game saw Stags dominant but the Wells defence held strong to complete the win.

This wasn’t the best of performances but did show the strength of the squad and winning from a position of 3-15 showed a lot of character.             

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