29 - 21
Tunbridge Wells Vs. Sidcup
In good conditions for running rugby Wells played up hill in the first half against a Sidcup side flirting with relegation. Max Douch kept the scrum half role, Brendan Crosilla was withdrawn after back spasms to be replaced by Carl Straeche, and Andy Burgess started in the second row.
However, apart from the first five minutes where Wells announced their intention of playing wide they hardly put a hand on the ball for the next 20 minutes as a clearly motivated Sidcup side battered the home defensive line. Wells defence and Sidcup possession were to dominate the afternoon and ultimately determine the victor.
Wells did get onto the scoreboard first with a Frank Reynolds penalty in the 14th minute but could still not achieve more than a 20% share of the ball. For the most part the Wells defence was very solid but after two successive penalties up the touchline Sidcup saw their chance to use their physicality and inexorably rolled a maul over in the left hand corner for NO 8 Freddy Ruff to score the try and full back Josh Twyford to notch the conversion 3-7 after 25 minutes.
Wells though with what ball they enjoyed- mainly kicked to them by the Sidcup halfbacks- decided to live by the sword and on 28 minutes player coach Dave Allen launched a counter attack from deep in the home half which covered 70 metres as the ball went through several pairs of hands to find centre Mike Doherty who knifed through for the try. 8-7.
The rest of the half saw a similar pattern as Wells went close, with a diagonal kick from Reynolds to Nick Doherty who popped up on the wing.
Halftime arrived with no further score and with both sides capable of a win. Head Coach Simon Whatling would have stressed Wells potency out wide and Sidcup will have emphasised the power of their pack in close quarter play.
Wells commenced the second half having to display their defensive skills again Christian Earle, Dave Allen, Mike Hathaway and Shadyn Osgood particularly to the fore but after 45 minutes another penalty to the corner saw Sidcup roll the maul again from the line out. The maul collapsed on the line and the referee gave a penalty try and sent Mike Hathaway to the touchline with a yellow card. 8-14.
Wells then produced a calibre of defensive play across the team which ultimately won them the game as they prevented Sidcup from scoring or getting over the gain line very regularly until Hathaway’s return. As soon as he reappeared Wells struck with another length of the field counter attack initiated by captain Ryan Taylor- Dennehy from a Sidcup kick with wing Max Hobbs claiming the try and Frank Reynolds the conversion on 57 minutes 15-14.
Wells then showed with more of a share of the ball that the last 20 minutes is critical as they turned a penalty into a rolling maul and gave Sidcup a taste of their own medicine as Ben Williams peeled off to score and Reynolds to convert on 72 minutes.22-14.
Within another 2 minutes with Sidcup now playing catch up rugby a loose pass on their right wing was intercepted by Blaise Salle -on for Matt Spicer . Salle showed tremendous acceleration as he left his own 22 and arrived in the visitors to find centre Shadyn Osgood on his shoulder to take the inside pass and score close to the posts with Reynolds again converting 29-14 75 minutes.
From the kick off Wells failed to secure the ball and an offside forward gave Sidcup the chance of another rolling maul from the line out again with a similar result as No 8 Ruff grabbed his second try with Twyford converting on 78 minutes 29-21.
With full time beckoning Wells continued to attack down the left and when it broke down Sidcup saw a chance of at least a losing bonus point but Wells tackling again kept the visitors pinned in their own 22 until the final whistle went to seal their third victory in a row and their third try bonus in a row.
This Saturday sees a rest week before Wells travel to Essex side Westcliff. If they win then a 5th place beckons in this tough league. Coach Whatling will be happy with Wells current form and that of the towns second team who after a narrow win against Medway move into the top 3 in the County Invicta 1 league .
Squad: Ben Williams, Josh Pankhurst, Carl Straeche, Kyle McGarvie, Andy Burgess, Christian Earle, Dave Allen, Mike Hathaway, Nick Doherty, Toby Talbot, Max Douch, Frank Reynolds, Max Hobbs, Mike Doherty, Shadyn Osgood, Matt Spicer, Blaise Salle, Ryan Taylor Dennehy.