MATCH REPORT: TWRFC 1XV (45) V Horsham RFC 1XV (14)

Match report by Mike Rigby

Horsham were the guests at St Marks on Saturday for what the crowd hoped would be another glorious day at St Marks. The pitches looked immaculate and the sun shone brightly. Horsham were looking to secure their first win of the season following promotion the year before.

Tunbridge Wells were rotating the squad this week as the club fielded three men’s sides for the first time this season. This rotation saw the Doherty brothers, Luke Hawkins, George Bench, Max Hobbs and Anthony Storkey return to the line-up.

As TWRFC started playing down the hill they looked sharp and dominated early possession. Pressure at the breakdown was good and Horsham were under a lot of pressure. The pressure resulted in Horsham looking narrow and when Wells went wide fast Mike Doherty scored in the corner. Conversion missed by Montgomery. 5-0. The second try was to follow quickly from similar pressure by the forwards releasing early ball to Montgomery to Doherty to Hobbs to run in from the half way line. With a successful conversion 12-0 after 12 minutes. A great start to the half.

However, a plucky Horsham showed good resilience and started to come back at the home team. Good choice of kicks and fast chases were hurting Wells. Horsham were on the scoreboard as a result with a kicked through ball resulting in a try by Horsham. 12-7. This sparked Wells back into action and the industrious Jay Smith carried well through the middle, again tying up the Horsham defence before the ball was shifted out wide to the right wing for Webster to score in the corner. With a successful conversion Wells were 19-7 after 30 minutes with all of the back three scoring.

We then entered a period of disjointed play with many errors by both sides. It felt like both teams wanted half time to come for a reset. Wells replaced Charley Smith with Bench, from the bench. Half time arrived. 19-7 this game was not over and with the hill advantage Horsham would feel they had a chance.

As the half started Wells had replaced Josh Hawkins, who was playing very well, with Nick Doherty going to 8 and Whale into the row. The second half started as the first half had finished with little excitement to watch, the key was going to be who would score first and make the game come alive. The answer was to be Wells with the omnipresent Whale making yet another strong carry, breaking several tackles and making the line. Simply awesome strength and commitment. With another Montgomery conversion 26-7 was starting to look too much for Horsham to recover.

What followed was a demonstration of how well the home team can play with ball in hand and confidence flowing. The pack again proving their dominance of the breakdown with a clean and fast turnover, the ball shipped wide fast to Webster who makes yards, quick ruck speed delivers good ball to Monty who sees room on the left where Whale received an inch perfect kick to run through for the try. Amazing. 31-7.

Then a few more subs for Wells, some to keep players fresh, some to replace gaps caused by a few yellow cards. This ill-discipline encouraged Horsham and saw them run in a try from midfield. 31-14. A reminder to Wells of the need to remain focussed and disciplined. A lesson they learned fast with good connectivity between 8/9/10 as Whale picked and went, releasing Storkey to chip over a flat defence for Montgomery to touch the ball down. With the kick making it 38-14 and time nearly up. Just time for one more try in the corner for Webster and Montgomery making it a final score of 45-14.       

This was a good win for the home side and a good way to celebrate Ali Main and Ben Whale’s 25th appearances. Another home game next week vs Brighton. This Tunbridge Wells side are worth making the trip to St Marks to watch, they play some excellent rugby built on solid defence and electric attack.

Also this weekend saw the TWRFC 2nd XV travel to Sittingbourne for their first league game, securing a 3-90 win. The 3rd XV won at home vs Ashford to make it three wins for the mighty TWRFC.

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