Southend Saxons 8 Tunbridge Wells 45
AFTER two blank weekends, Tunbridge Wells did not look rusty in the least as they chalked up seven tries on their trip to Southend’s Warners Bridge Park.
The visitors welcomed back skipper Chas Spence, who had been sidelined for seven weeks after suffering a head injury during a match, while 18-year-old academy product Toby Talbot made his debut at flanker.
The hosts were lying second to bottom in the London & South-East Premier Division and Dave Allen soon put them on the back foot.
The player-coach, who was returning after a minor knee operation, followed up a chargedown to score an unconverted try in the corner after just two minutes.
Five minutes later, Frank Reynolds kicked ahead for left wing Matt Spicer to chase to the corner for a second try, again unconverted.
The Wells front row of Ben Williams, Josh Pankhurst and Brendan Crosilla were a dominant force and a drive by the pack saw the ball released to Spicer for his second try, Frank Reynolds adding the extras.
However, a resurgence from Southend kept the score at 17-0 throughout the second quarter.
So Wells went in at the break having to think tactically about where their bonus try would come from.
The visitors struggled to achieve their set piece possession cleanly and Southend had a good share of the ball, culminating in them scoring a try on the right after a long miss pass to the wing Franco Maggiolo.
That setback prompted Wells to shrug off their lack of accuracy. On 52 minutes the full-back Ryan Taylor-Dennehy created an excellent try, angling in at the line from 45 metres out, and Reynolds converted.
Three minutes later, Mike Hathaway finished off a surging drive, and then on 64 minutes he turned provider for Mike Doherty to go through a gap and score.
Just before the final whistle Spicer completed his hat-trick after receiving an outstanding flip pass from Nick Doherty.
Reynolds converted again, before the hosts grabbed a penalty at the end.
Wells stay in sixth place in the table with five games to go and welcome seventh-placed Dorking to St Marks on Saturday (March 17, kick-off 3pm) for the match that had to be postponed because of the snow.