Tunbridge Wells 31 Tottonians 29
AN INDIVIDUAL piece of brilliance from 21-year-old captain Chaz Spence proved the difference in a clash between two teams with promotion ambitions in London One South.
They had met for the very first time back in September with Wells winning a tight game 27-15, and this encounter was to be even closer.
Josh Crickmay returned at tight-head prop and there was a warm welcome back for Mike Doherty, who played centre whilst on holiday from Australia.
After just three minutes the lively visitors had scored, a fine rolling maul deep into the Wells 22 allowing full-back Tommy Foster to cross over, converted by skipper Robbie Searle.
Wells were soon on the scoreboard when a Nick Doherty turnover earned a kick for Frank Reynolds, and it was from another penalty on 16 minutes that Crickmay crashed over under the posts for his first club try. Reynolds popped over the conversion.
Tottonians response was immediate and impressive, their backs linking well to put centre Mike Searle in for the try, which was converted by his brother Robbie on 20 minutes.
He notched another penalty to stretch the lead to 17-10 at half-time. A back-line reshuffle saw Wells draw level three minutes after the break, though. A powerful surge by James Lineham helped force Nick Doherty over for a try that Reynolds converted.
Tottonians responded with a superb score on 46 minutes. An exquisite inside pop pass by the impressive Robbie Searle released pacy flanker Kevin Raqio, who raced in from 25 metres. It was followed by a fine touchline conversion from Searle.
The Hampshire side were having a purple patch of form, and their centres Mike Searle and Richard Buck linked to create a second try for Raqio to put them 29-17 ahead.
The match could have got away from Wells at this stage. But showing patience in a series of drives featuring Goodyer, Mills and Uini eventually saw Mike Hathaway (pictured) force his way over on 71 minutes. Another good conversion by Reynolds brought the home team within one score at 24-29.
Then scrum-half Spence picked out of a Tottonian scrum 15 metres from his own line and showed explosive pace as he darted through a gap and went clear for his solo try. Reynolds converted and Wells took the lead just as the game moved into injury time.
It was a superb game of rugby between the sides placed third and fourth in London One South, and Wells will now look to build on it ahead of their crunch clash at second-placed Havant.