24 - 21
Tunbridge Wells Vs. Guildford
Wells fielded the same starting 15 as they had in winning at Westcliff last week but brought Academy product Toby Talbot onto the bench with Kyle McGarvie. Conditions were at last firm under foot and warm sunshine greeted both sides. The visitors needed a win to bolster their chances of surviving at this level for the 2018/19 season and begun the game looking like the win was more important to them than it did to Wells. This was to be the story of the first half as despite Frank Reynolds putting the home side in front with a penalty on 17 minutes little else went right for the town side in the first 40 minutes as the G’s took a firm grip on proceedings aided and abetted by wayward kicking, and a failure to secure line out ball from Wells.
With territory and position it only took Guildford 2 minutes to respond with scrum half Bradley Smith cutting inside the Wells cover to score close to the posts and with full back Ali Chisholm adding the extras 3-7 on 19 minutes. Things did not get better for Wells in the second quarter as imprecise passing, and a loss of initial dominance in the tight saw a succession of penalties move Guildford to within range and a rolling maul from a lineout on the left collapsed with Wells adjudged the offenders as the referee awarded a penalty try and Nick Doherty was despatched with a yellow card on 35 minutes 3-14.
With Doherty off Wells looked under even more pressure as Ben Williams joined Doherty in the bin as he was somewhat harshly judged to have adopted an illegal position as the G’s no 3 George Banks went to the floor. With Wells down to 13 on 42 minutes Guildford rolled again and No 6 Ollie Millward claimed Guildford’s third try following up on the drive. This left the halftime score at 3-21 as Chisholm again kicked the extras and left the Wells crowd -bolstered by the Vice Presidents lunch- scratching their heads as to how they were going to extract themselves from this position.
However, this team has not hit the top 5 in London Premier this year without considerable skill and spirit and having succeeded in holding the opposition at bay for the first few minutes of the second half until back to fifteen they proceeded to reel in the score. First Blaise Salle went close on the right and within 2 minutes Nick Doherty finished off a patient pick and drive sequence halfway out with Frank Reynolds kicking the conversion 10-21 46 minutes.
Wells continued to dominate as Dave Allen used his experience and skill to pick at the narrow channels and suck G’s in before releasing the ball. This gave much greater space to the backs when the ball was moved wide. Skipper Ryan Taylor –Dennehy was next to blast up the left touchline and looked to have scored after a 40 metre run only to have the try disallowed for putting it down in goal but over the touchline. This made little difference to the momentum which had shifted decidedly to the home side as on 53 minutes further patient picking and driving saw Man of the Match Dave Allen pop the ball to Mike Doherty on the straight burst for him to score and for Reynolds again to add the extras which was to prove vital 17-21.
Wells were not finished yet as they exploited an 18 minute purple patch to score yet again on 64 minutes as a midfield switch from centre Shadyn Osgood saw Taylor – Dennehy make up for his earlier narrow miss to run in from 30 metres beating the defence for pace as he scored Wells third try with Reynolds again converting 24-21.
This purple patch put Wells in the driving seat as they regained control in the scrum and started to take their line outs as Mc Garvie came on from the subs bench. With the back row bossing the breakdown Wells were able to see out time despite Guildford striving for those points for survival.
As the final whistle came Guildford got a valuable losing bonus point and Wells couldn’t quite add to their try bonus points. However, soon afterwards it became apparent as Westcliff went down to Hertford that Wells had secured their 5th position in their first season at this level and Guildford need a win in their last game or they need Westcombe Park to lose in order to survive in this league for next season.
This Saturday Wells travel to Shelford to play on their new Artificial grass pitch as they conclude the season in the highest position the club has ever attained since the inception of the RFU leagues and striving to keep their sequence of 5 wins in a row going.
Squad: Ben Williams, Luke Hawkins, Brendan Crosilla, Kyle McGarvie, Christian Earle, Mac Popham, Mike Hathaway, Dave Allen, Nick Doherty, Toby Talbot, Max Douch, Frank Reynolds, Blaise Salle, Matt Spicer, Mike Doherty, Shadyn Osgood, Max Hobbs, Ryan Taylor- Dennehy (Capt)