Westcombe Park (Away)
11 - 10
Westcombe Park Vs. Tunbridge Wells
Wells visited Goddington Dene on Saturday and for the third successive week found themselves in the rain on an increasingly heavy pitch. Shaydn Osgood returned after suspension and Richard Webster came onto the bench but otherwise the side was unchanged from that which secured a good win against Sutton and Epsom the week before. Skipper Chas Spence remained on the injured list with Max Douch continuing to deputise at scrum half.
Combe have recruited in recent weeks and a large pack took to the field equipped to give Wells a hard afternoon and that is what happened.
Points were hard to come by and after a flurry in the first 20 minutes there was little on offer. Combe were first on the scoresheet as their pack took advantage of early pressure with Jordan Saunders ultimately driving over the line for an unconverted try on 4 minutes.
Wells though soon got into the Combe half and stayed there. A dump tackle saw a Combe centre head to the sin bin on 8 minutes and Frank Reynolds made no mistake with the penalty 5-3. However, the visitors could not make advantage of the extra man as Mike Doherty limped off to be replaced by Webster.
Both sides were ironically back to 15 when after consistent pressure Shaydn Osgood broke surprisingly easily through the Combe cover to score a try halfway out which Reynolds converted on 20 minutes 5-10.
For the rest of the half both sides enjoyed equal possession with parity in the scrums but with Wells having difficulty in securing ball in the line out for a range of technical reasons. Both sides defences were in good working order and the only further score of the half came from a 33rd minute penalty from Combe full back Will Robinson on 33 with halftime seeing the score remain at 8-10 to Wells.
If the first half had been even the second was dominated in general by the home side who had more of the ball and in general occupied a higher field position. Both defences were parsimonious and the Combe half backs James Cameron and new signing Ed Durki put in some very precise and tactically astute kicks many fielded well by Wells full back Ryan Taylor – Dennehy.
The possession eventually told when Robinson kicked his second penalty for offside on 65 minutes to put Combe in the lead for the first time 11-10.
Combe continued to push up but could find no way through an uncompromising Wells defence
With injury time looming there came the key moment of the game as Cameron made a rare mistake kicking low with the ball ricocheting back behind the Combe defence. Reynolds latched onto it like a greyhound and kicked on to beat the cover and dive for what all thought was a score. Sadly for Wells the referee didn’t and the chance of a win went with this judgement as Combe saw out time and gleefully kicked out.
Disallowed try or not the home side had dominated the second half in favourable conditions for their big pack as they make a late bid to get out of the relegation zone. Wells performance was spirited and competitive and they can now enjoy a rare week off to work on remaining in sixth place in London and SE Premier as they pocketed a losing bonus point.
Squad: Kyle McGarvie, Josh Pankhurst, Brendan Crosilla, Carl Straeche, Gus O’Grady, Christian Earle, Mike Hathaway, Dave Allen, Nick Doherty, Mac Popham, Max Douch, Frank Reynolds, Blaise Salle, Shaydn Osgood, Mike Doherty, Matt Spicer, Richard Webster, Ryan Taylor – Dennehy.
Wells next play Hertford away on Saturday 17th February KO 2 30 PM.