Match report by Roger Clarke

The Wells 1st XV met old rivals Brighton on a perfect day at St Marks with a crowd of over 200, a pre match demonstration of Rugby by the club’s U13s,  and with club stalwart Mike Doherty leading the side out to celebrate his 100th appearance.

Wells chose to play down the slope in the first half and although Brighton got into their stride quickly the Wells pack proceeded to dominate possession and territory. The first quarter saw Wells enjoy 80% possession and although it took some 19 minutes for the first score the pace of their attacks and the speed of the ball being moved from the base of the breakdown had the visitors on the back foot. Following a number of wide attacks- centre debutant Reuben Elliston punching some significant holes in the Brighton line- No 7 Jay Smith took the direct route after a break from Toby Talbot for a try on 19 minutes halfway out which fly half George Montgomery converted 7-0.

From the ensuing kick -off Wells regained possession following a Ben Whale turn over with the ball being spun out to Ali Main who broke the line giving the ball back to Whale who found scrum half Anthony Storkey backing up on the right wing to score Montgomery converting 14-0 after 23 minutes.

Wells continued to pile on the pressure and would have had more points on the board but spilled the ball in the act of going over the line. It was ironic that with Brighton’s first entry to the Wells half they should score on 34 minutes as they underlined their spirit and experience as a team  to make the score 14-7 with a successful conversion.

Wells continued to apply pressure through a dominant scrummage powered by the second row of Whale and Josh Hawkins and by the stability in the tight of props Charley Smith and Tom Waghorne and by an efficient line out.  These features allowing Wells to keep Brighton pinned in their 22 for long periods. This territory allowed the home side to work George Montgomery into space on 39 minutes and he stepped inside to beat the cover and convert his own try 21-7. Within 2 minutes Montgomery repeated the dose with a similar try at close range but he could not convert leaving the halftime score at 26-7 and with a try bonus point earnt.

What happened in the changing rooms at half-time the Wells faithful will never know but a side that had 80% territory in the first half was never repeated. Their continuity of play was severely disrupted throughout the second half by conceding a double figure penalty count which never allowed the side to settle and establish a consistent pattern of play. Brighton for this reason- and their spirited play- came increasingly into the game reducing the score gap almost immediately on 43 minutes with a try halfway out converted by fly half Charlie Manger. 26-14.

Inexorably Brighton started to take control and although Wells had one golden chance when the overlap man was put clear to the line the final pass went down and the chance was gone.

Brighton continued their attacks down the hill with their lively backs making things difficult for Wells. It was their left wing Alex Basson who got in for a further try on 58 minutes as the home side realised they were now under real pressure to secure the result. 26-19. As the clock entered injury time Brighton got away from the Wells defence again down the left to score 5 metres out and to bring the score within 2 points. The conversion slid across the face of the posts and missed 26-24. There was just time for a restart  and Wells managed to secure the ball and get it to touch to secure a valuable 5 points and the win.

Elsewhere the Wells second team maintained their position at the top of Kent Counties 3 with a 48-19 win against New Ash Green 1st XV and the thirds went down 39-40 in a thriller against Canterbury.

Next Saturday the Wells 1st XV are on the road to Bournemouth hoping to export their home form to maintain their current league position. Training will no doubt concentrate on the cause of such a high penalty count in the second half of Saturdays game.

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