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Hertford Vs. Tunbridge Wells
Wells travelled to Hertford and for the first time in 5 weeks it was a dry sunny Saturday with the pitch reasonable under foot. Skipper Chas Spence, player coach Dave Allen , key centre Shaydn Osgood and hooker Luke Hawkins were all injured and replaced by Max Douch, Mac Popham and Blaise Salle with Ben Williams making his debut from the bench and Max Hobbs making his first start for some time.
Whilst Wells looked as if they were still shaking the journey off, promotion candidates Hertford in 4th place caught them napping as they produced a pace of game some 2 metres quicker than Wells and when they did need defence their line speed was superior. This pace and accuracy of pass saw them carve holes in Wells midfield, normally so dependable, and this gave them plenty of room on the edges as the Wells defence proved too narrow. The whole of the Hertford team produced some very impressive rugby but if there was to be a tormentor in chief during this period it was overall Man of the Match for Hertford scrum – half Ben Creasey who scored on 8 minutes with a burst through the middle, full back Sean Taylor converting and tries were then produced at regular intervals as Wells struggled to gain ball and to plug the gaps. Taylor was also having an outstanding game for the hosts and it was he who added the second try on 15 minutes 12-0. Flanker Jack Elston added the third on 28 minutes and a rolling maul try after a penalty to the corner saw Hertford add the try bonus point on 29 minutes 24-0. Try no 5 was added a minute later as James Keens one of the second row charged through. ( 31-0).
As the half entered the last 10 minutes Wells did come more into the game as even Hertford could not keep up the pace of the first half hour. Two pick and drive sequences saw Wells close to the home line but patience was lost on one occasion and Hertford line speed defeated the other as the visitors found it difficult to hold onto the ball.
When Wells did have success in gaining field position it was normally fly half Frank Reynolds or stand in skipper Ryan Taylor-Dennehy from the back who got them into the opposition half.
Halftime saw no addition to the score and Wells staring down the barrel of a 31-0 points deficit. As is usual. however, this was a game of two halves, and as the second began on came Ben Williams who immediately brought more aggression to the game which was contagious as Mike Hathaway – who had an outstanding game for Wells, Christian Earle, Nick Doherty and Gus O’Grady started to get into a game they had not been able to influence in the first half.
As a result Wells enjoyed more possession and Reynolds was able to play- make to get them farther up the field. This meant that Hertford didn’t get close to the line and Wells looked the more likely to score. The visitors went close on 45 minutes after a penalty and line out saw them roll a maul towards the home line. Christian Earle also making a 40 metre line break but not being able to find support to finish the move. However, it took until the 55th Minute for Mike Hathaway to show real physicality to get over the Hertford line with Frank Reynolds adding the conversion 31-7.
Hertford were not finished however and No 9 Creasey dummied his way over from a break down in front of the posts on 60 minutes and then repeated the dose out wide for his hat trick on 65 minutes 43-7.
Wells continued to work at their game getting themselves back into the Hertford half through further Reynolds tactical kicking and some brave counter attacks from the back. Ultimately these paid dividends as first left wing Matt Spicer went in after a great inter passing movement on the left 43-12 and then from a similar move on the right wing Max Hobbs picked up a third try with some injury time to play.
Wells worked hard to provide the opportunity for a try bonus but couldn’t quite find the right route as Hertford kicked out to end a testing game for the visitors who could at least take consolation from ‘winning’ the second half 17-12 and reducing the incessant chatter of the Hertford commentator!
Wells remain in 6th place but have a vital game at home against Dorking who are only two points behind them at St Marks on Saturday 3rd March KO 3 00pm. With only 6 games to go Wells have to target a sequence of wins to maintain this 6th position or if they are to catch Westcliff in 5th.
Squad: Kyle Mcgarvie, Josh Pankhurst, Brendan Crosilla, Ben Williams Carl Straeche, Gus O’ Grady, Christian Earle, Mac Popham, Nick Doherty, Mike Hathaway( Man of the Match), Max Douch, Frank Reynolds, Matt Spicer, Blaise Salle, Mike Doherty, Richard Webster, Max Hobbs, Ryan Taylor- Dennehy (capt).