24 - 7
Tunbridge Wells Vs. Westcliff
Wells took to a relatively dry St Marks pitch with Matt Spicer starting for the injured Max Douch, with Hayden Pengelly returning to the back row after injury and with Dave Allen moving to the bench.
The home side proceeded to dominate this London and SE premier division game in the first quarter as they played up the hill defending the Sussex end of the ground. This period featured some sharp inter passing, great running angles at pace and some very effective defence as 5th placed Westcliff looked to put their mark on the game after a great win against Barnes last week.
Wells had threatened on two other occasions before they got points on the Board as Shaydn Osgood and Mike Doherty interpassed on the left for Doherty to do a great job in getting the ball down as he dived into the left corner. Fly half Frank Reynolds bringing his usual accuracy to a conversion from the touchline 7-0 on 14 minutes.
Westcliff enjoyed possession during this period as well and Wells performed magnificently in defence close to the 20 minute mark as they defended 14 phases of play with Westcliff recycling accurately but never really getting over the gain line.
With 21 minutes gone and some accurate prompting from the boot of fly half Reynolds Matt Spicer and Reynolds exchanged passes at speed before setting wing Blaise Salle free to score the try again converted by Reynolds 14-0.
Wells created several other opportunities as the game progressed towards the 30 minute mark but Westcliff also saw action as their left wing was bundled to touch some 3 metres out with the defending side clearing their lines from the ensuing line out, as hooker Luke Hawkins left the field to be replaced by Kyle McGarvie.
Wells came close on a number of other occasions most notably when No 8 Nick Doherty put in a brilliant break in midfield and then an inch perfect kick in front of the Wells backs. It looked as if Matt Spicer would score but he just failed to gather the bouncing ball 10 metres out. Wells also scorned kicking potential penalties as Reynolds kicked them to the corner only for Wells line out to malfunction as they were pulled up for not straight in promising positions. As it was halftime was reached with the home supporters thinking their side would have been value for another seven points and with Westcliff still just in the game at 14-0.
Wells came out of the changing room for the second half having to make changes as influential fly half Frank Reynolds suffered a recurrence of a shoulder injury with Ryan Taylor-Dennehy moving to 10 and Academy product Richard Webster assuming the full back duties.
With Wells now playing down the hill the side upped their pace with Man of the Match Mike Hathaway, returnee Hayden Pengelly and Nick Doherty outstanding and backed up by the pace of Christian Earle and Owain Withers putting Westcliff under pressure in their own half. It was all three of the back row who carried in a move instigated by Nick Doherty that saw Hayden Pengelly score try number 3 on 46 minutes which Taylor- Dennehy narrowly missed the conversion for. 19-0 on 46 minutes.
Westcliff then dominated the next 10 minutes of play working the left hand touchline and with their set scrum gaining some ascendancy as Dave Allen joined the fray on 58 minutes for Pengelly. Within 2 minutes of Allen’s arrival Wells had their try bonus as the side drove from the line out, held the ball in and then released with a delightful blind side pass to wing Matt Spicer (from skipper Chas Spence) who got in at the left corner for the fourth try. 24-0 on 60 minutes.
It was credit to Westcliff who had taken a bit of a battering and run mainly across the field that they competitively came back into the game in the last 20 minutes preventing Wells from any further score and picking up a converted push over try from their Man of the Match No 8 Joe Vandermolen. This was the last sniff on 68 minutes that Wells gave Westcliff of their line as they demonstrated sound game management to bring home a very impressive 6th win of the season, despite the loss of their hooker and fly half for a fair proportion of the game.
Wells now need to keep this mini run of wins going as still in 7th place they visit Guildford KO 2 00pm next Saturday as they look to see if they can force their way back into the top six.
Squad: Carl Straeche, Luke Hawkins, ( Kyle McGarvie,), Brendan Crosilla, Christian Earle, Owain Withers, Hayden Pengelly, ( Dave Allen), Mike Hathaway, Nick Doherty, Chas Spence, Frank Reynolds, Blaise Salle, Shaydn Osgood, Mike Doherty, Matt Spicer, Ryan Taylor-Dennehy, Richard Webster.