17 - 26
Tunbridge Wells Vs. Brentwood
This was the first game between these sides in an official league game although they have met in preseason friendlies. Having gone down in injury time the week before the home side were eager to make amends
Sadly for spectators and players for the second time at home in consecutive fixtures it was wet and gusty and this was to have a very big influence on the way the game unfolded.
Wells were without Josh Pankhurst, injured and Christian Earle unavailable with Luke Hawkins and Chris Pentney taking their places. Skipper Ryan Taylor- Dennehy moving to the centre to accommodate the returning George Montgomery at full back in his first start since returning from London Irish Wild Geese.
Max Hobbs started on the right wing.
Wells had the elements first kicking off down the hill and with the wind and needed to build a reasonable lead if they were still to be ahead at the end. With seven minutes on the clock a sustained pick and drive saw the home team over the line but the ball was knocked on in the act of scoring. It was not until the 17th minute that Frank Reynolds kicked a simple penalty after Brentwood’s Adam Thomas was sent to the sin bin as punishment for repeated team misdemeanours close to their line. 3-0.
Despite pinning Brentwood in their 22 it took until the 23rd minute for Wells to threaten on the right with ball being skilfully directed to George Montgomery entering the line for the try which Reynolds converted 10-0. For the next ten minutes or so using the elements Wells pinned Brentwood down but could not add to their score as the visitors defended valiantly. It took until the 35th minute for Wells to move the ball wide on halfway where left wing Jake Caddy beat his opposite number on the outside to then feed the supporting Reynolds who scored close to the posts and converted his own try for a 17-0 lead. At this point another try would have been a reasonable return but it was the visitors who in their first visit to the Wells 22 found space out wide for a diagonal kick to right wing Liam Batty who finished the scoring for both teams on 37 minutes 17-5. Max Hobbs departing the field with a serious shoulder injury as the half concluded to be replaced by Matt Spicer.
In normal circumstances Wells lead could and should have been enough but the rain intensified and it was the home teams turn to be pinned in their own half. This pressure was rarely relieved as conditions made it difficult for both sides to handle the ball with Wells experiencing big problems at the line out where securing their own ball became difficult. Within two minutes of the restart the home tackling was found wanting down the left as fullback Toby Simpson scored with fly half Brad Burr converting 17-12. For the next 18 minutes Wells found it increasingly difficult to break out as a combination of inaccurate passing under pressure and poor technical kicking from hand added to their inability to make progress up the park. When they did all too often the movement was too lateral to make real progress. It took Brentwood until the 60th minute to go ahead as not for the first time they spotted space on the right flank and another diagonal kick found Batty in space again to score with Burr converting from the touchline. 17-19.
Despite some manful defending Wells continued to find it difficult to break out and in the 68th minute a poor clearance kick found Brentwood fullback Simpson in space as he moved the ball wide for Batty to finish with a hat trick and for Burr to convert again 17-26. Try as they might for the last 17 minutes of the game Wells could not find the pattern or incisiveness in the conditions to launch a counter and the game came to an end with no further score.
Wells have to ponder their third home defeat in a row and despite a better start can only rue one or two missed chances in the first half and a very narrow backs defence which offered the opposition four tries on the flanks. The elements clearly had a big role to play as Wells won the first half with them 17-5 and Brentwood the second 21-0.
With six games gone in the league season Wells reach the first rest week on 12 points but with this defeat drop to third from bottom in a league which is unforgiving if you don’t take your chances. Time for Simon Whatling and his coaches to work on tactics and technique prior to Wells getting on the road to Sutton and Epsom for a 3 00pm KO on the 20th October to start the process of moving back up the table.