MATCH REPORT: TWRFC 1XV (28) V COLCHESTER RFC 1XV (24)
Match reporter: Tim McCabe
A large crowd at St Marks were looking forward to this mid table clash against Colchester, who were only just sitting above Tunbridge Wells. It was a lovely mild and sunny afternoon. Perfect conditions for our splendid sport!
The Game kicked off with Tunbridge Wells facing the club house end. And within minutes, were slotting 3 points courtesy of the boot of George ‘Monty’ Montgomery, who was to have a major, positive impact across the whole game.
Colchester immediately responded and within minutes of arriving into the Wells half, Sam Butler, the opposition hooker, touched down. At this point both teams knew they were in a game! Score now 3-5 as the conversion went wide.
Wells replied with a neat kick from ‘Monty’ threaded through the oncoming defence. The ball perked up neatly and nestled into the hands of the nifty winger, Jack Smith and again Monty’s boot added the two – 10-5.
The match seemed very well balanced and incredibly entertaining. Wells seemed to have the upper hand at this stage and 20 minutes in, arrived at the opposition 22 for a another scrum. It’s fair to say the Colchester pack had the nudge at scrum time. Nail biting stuff.
Sustained pressure from Colchester began to take its toll on the tired Wells defence, the talented 7, Dan Whiteman, (previous club captain) bundled over for the 5. They didn’t make the conversion, so 10-10.
The game restarted and Monty’s boot was still proving to be useful. The home crowed were loving the strong running in midfield. Unfortunately the ball was turned over. Colchester took control and the super speedy 14, Conner O’Reilly, utilised his slippery skills and managed to break two tackles. Colchester were about to score coming towards the end of the first half, Wells needed to hold out.
Finally the pressure was too much and the opposition scored a try. Jimmy Malpaine dotted down. With the conversion – 10-17 is now the score line.
Wells were now in attack, with the sun on their backs and kicked down to the 22. Wells won the line out, the pill was chipped over, Ed Shepherdson at 15 was trying to run through the middle, with a beautiful delay on the pass the Wells wizard, Mylo Vanner-Mackew, cut through and stuck his five points underneath the posts. Monty nailed the conversion and the first half ended, honours even. Score 17-17.
Some of the crowed ran for well needed refreshments, the teams chatted and then it was back for the second half. Nerves were jangling!
Play started, then broke down with an injury on the wing. The game resumed and with some decent open play from the Wells team , the ball was spun out wide and Wells scored in the corner through Mike Doherty. The conversion unfortunately hit the upright and bounced away so the score was now 22-17
The match was going backwards and forwards in middle ground territory. Josh Brockman, at openside, returning to the team, was being a proper nuisance. However 15 minutes in, a decent kick into the 22, saw the Colchester army on the attack.
Too much time spent was now being spent in the Well’s 22. Pressure was immense. Wells took some light relief, received a scrum, as the opposition spilled the pill, and cleared their lines with a clean kick to touch. But not for long, as the ball was grubbed through. And the speedy Malpaine took the chance from a Wells fumble, and easily glided through and put the ball down. With conversion, the opposition were now up by 2 points – score 22-24
It was now Well’s turn to fight back. Unfortunately their ball was turned over for holding on. And the pattern of the game was starting to ebb and slow. Wells needed possession if they were going to win.
There were a succession of penalties to Wells with the second penalty awarded in kicking range and dispatched. Again Monty providing the shot.
Wells now ahead, score 25-24.
With the clock running down, O’Brien at tight head saw yellow with a high shot, rendering the scrum to uncontested as Wells needed to go down to 13 players. They won their ball and charged down to the opposition 22. They then received a penalty for foul play and Monty moves the score line to 28-24.
Colchester still had time and threw the sink at the mighty Wells. They received a penalty and kicked for touch. It was all getting a little bit nail-biting!
Amazingly a Brockman turnover helped ease the nerves, and Monty tried for a drop goal. The Wells defence held strong and rebuffed the final Colchester charge. The ball was turned over, kicked out and the crowd cheered. You will not see a better, closer contested game, ever.
The players shook hands and Wells look forward to continuing their winning streak. A great game played by two excellent sides. It was a pleasure to host Colchester.
Next week sees the TWRFC 1st XV travel to Tring RFC. All travelling support welcomed!