CS STAGS 1863 1ST XV          21                     TUNBRIDGE WELLS RFC 1ST XV           26

Wells travelled for a 5 00pm KO on the new Kings House School Chiswick 4G environmentally friendly pitch installed this Summer. It was crisp and damp and as the players steamed the pitch started to fog up but conditions remained good enough to complete the game.

The town side had to make some changes from the team that had narrowly triumphed against London Welsh the week before. Tom Waghorn rotated with John Petty at prop with Petty on the bench to start. Ben Day replaced the injured George Montgomery at fly half with Mike Doherty taking his place at full back, Jay Smith recovered from injury and Sam Williams were added to the bench.

CS started at a high pace which was to be maintained by both sides throughout and within 2 minutes home centre Toby Eaton cut a line to the posts with fullback John Hargreaves adding the points 7  – 0. The home side continued to look menacing for the first 15 minutes but gradually Wells came into the game using their dominance of the scrum an efficient line out and some physical clearing out of the ruck to put the home side under pressure.  Whilst the backs looked the most likely route for a score from some direct running Wells looked as if they would score on 15 minutes from a rolling maul but were penalised close to the line. It took until the 19th minute for a first score when a movement started on halfway culminated in back row Ben Isbell going in under the posts with Ben Day tying the score at 7  -7. Wells continued to dominate physically and in the breakdown and spent the next 10 minutes wearing CS down as the 5 back row in the pack got to work. The CS defence stood up well but on 29 minutes a searing Ben Whale break and a scrum- half Anthony Storkey supporting run saw a penalty awarded in front which was miscued. It took the visitors another 10 minutes to the cusp of half time for the Wells pack to exert their scrum power to earn a pushover try controlled and scored by Nick Doherty and converted by Ben Day. 7  –  14.

Wells were no doubt hoping that given their advantage in territory and ball that they would get to the break in the lead but this was not to be as CS came flying out of the traps for right wing Ikenna Obonna to get round the Wells cover and score halfway out on the right with  Hargreaves converting to make the halftime score 14  –  14.

The second half kicked off with Jay Smith returning after injury replacing  Luke Hawkins at hooker and with the visitors still on the attack. A useful fly hack down the pitch could not be controlled as the attacking player Webster and a CS defender collided. The pattern of the game had also changed to some degree as whilst Wells continued to dominate the scrummage some accuracy was lost at the lineout. After 48 minutes a great forward effort nearly saw Wells over the line but the CS defence mastered the attack. 2 minutes later, however, they could do little to stop an incisive break from centre Max Hobbs who fed  Tom Webster who went in for the 3rd try which was not converted 14  -19 to the visitors.

Despite Wells not having as much of the ball CS chose to kick a lot which gave  counter attacking options. A forward drive on 59 minutes saw the ball moved to the right with Mike Doherty coming into the line to ensure both brothers were on the score sheet with Mike getting the try bonus point and  with Ben Day nudging the conversion off the right upright   14  –  26.

CS again replied quickly to Wells pulling away as on 63 minutes they made progress on the right with centre Toby Eaton scoring his second of the day with Hargreaves converting  21  –  26.

The visitors piled on the pressure for the last 15 minutes and perhaps should have gone further into the lead when on 76 minutes Whale made an even better midfield break and got the ball to an unmarked Toby Webster on the right wing. Sadly as it would have been an outstanding try the ball wouldn’t stick and the chance had gone. The game ending with CS trapped in their own 22 as the pressure was applied.

This was a good win against opposition which the town-side have always found difficult away from home. The control of the forwards at the set scrum, the power of the clear out and midfield running  from the pack and some nice attacking lines from the backs saw the side to the win retaining third place in London and SE  Regional 1 South  Central.  Man of the Match  Ben Whale. Scorers Tries: Ben Isbell, Nick Doherty, Tom Webster and Mike Doherty. Ben Day 3 conversions.

This Saturday the 18th November Wells entertain Maidenhead RFC at St Marks KO 2 30 pm.

Roger Clarke

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