Tonbridge Juddians 19 Wimbledon17
IT WAS first versus second in National Three London & South-East and for some it represented a title-decider even with eight games still to be played.
So there was pressure on both squads to perform but they did exceptionally well to put on a cracking game of rugby that ebbed and flowed and was undecided until the final minute.
Wimbledon opened the scoring with a catch and drive at the lineout which led to quality ball for the backs to send their centre over under the sticks.
TJs came back fighting and enjoyed the ball and territory but they could not break a very solid Wimbledon line.
Liam Prescott slotted a penalty and half-chances came and went but eventually a series of scrums deep in opposition territory led to a penalty try. The half ended 10-7 and TJs had the upper hand.
The second half followed a similar pattern with the visitors starting strongly but TJs edging it as the game went on.
The home scrum had the better of things but the backs lacked their usual accuracy and too many dropped balls kept things tight.
Prescott slotted two more penalties with Wimbledon adding one of their own in between.
The away side then had their own penalty try from a catch and drive lineout and suddenly they were in front 16-17.
A flurry of yellow cards saw both sides lose players to the bin and TJs were down to 13 at one stage.
The forwards kept advancing, however, and TJs won a penalty in front of the posts. Will Ward tapped and went and the chance was gone.
Then Wimbledon again offended and this time Prescott added the penalty to put TJs back in front 19-17.
There were still a few nervous minutes to go but TJs managed to close it. The win gives TJs a four-point lead at the top over Wimbledon now so nothing is decided yet.
The relief was palpable and Coach Pete Dankert said: “We’ve banned all mention of the C word as the Championship is a long way off still.
“We weren’t as accurate today as we normally are and that meant the game was a lot tighter than it needed to be.
“Wimbledon were a much improved outfit from when we beat them last time out so we are pleased with the win and need to back it up now with another one over Colchester here next Saturday.”