Cobham 22 Tunbridge Wells 35
TUNBRIDGE WELLS travelled to Cobham in Surrey knowing that if they were to haul second-placed Havant back and secure a promotion play-off place in London One South, they needed a full set of wins from the last seven games and, ideally, bonus points to have any hope.
Cobham were sitting in fifth place, and when the teams met at St Marks earlier in the campaign the result could have gone either way before the home team triumphed 28-21.
But Wells pretty much put the game to bed by half-time by putting in one of their best first-half performances of the season.
Cobham opened the scoring with a long-range penalty from impressive outside half Ross Jones-Davies after just 60 seconds, but this was to be the home team’s only score of the half.
When Wells were awarded a penalty deep in their own half, Dylan Barkas sent a raking kick upfield from an ambitious quick-tap.
Charlie Harding put pressure on the home defence and secured the ball to allow Frank Reynolds to score between the posts and also convert.
A superb turnover by Charlie Dagwell, who had been handed a deserved start at flanker, led to Reynolds stroking over the penalty from 28 metres.
Wells were awarded another penalty for offside at a maul and the excellent Reynolds added the three points.
Just after the half-hour, the visitors produced a magnificent team try. Turi Uini surged 30 metres from a ruck before the ball moved to Nick Doherty, who beat three men to make inroads into Cobham’s territory.
His arcing run took him towards the right wing and gave skipper Lee Campion the opportunity to create a perfect scissors movement and cross under the posts. Reynolds added the two.
After a series of runs by Matt Cook and Mike Hathaway, a penalty was awarded 40 metres out which Reynolds struck sweetly between the uprights for a score of 23-3 at the interval.
From a five-metre scrum on 53 minutes, the ball was quickly moved away by Wells and, with the defence confused by a bouncing ball, Harding gathered it to stroll untouched under the posts, Reynolds converting again.
Cobham were about to have their best phase of the game. A home scrum saw an excellent move release winger Max McDonald for a well-worked try that was converted by Jones-Davies.
The hosts were straight back on the attack from the kick-off and an excellent move the whole length of the pitch eventually saw hooker Jake McQuade cross wide out for a try.
With a cracking Jones-Davies conversion there were suddenly a few nerves amongst the visiting supporters as the score became 17-30 with 11 minutes to play.
Despite their earlier dominance, time was now starting to run out on Wells’ four-try bonus point quest, so they knew they had to take the chance when it came.
John Rumsey, back from injury, cleverly engineered a kick to the corner that saw Cobham carry into touch. From the ensuing rolling maul, Dagwell controlled it well at the back and touched down for the bonus point try. Reynolds’ conversion hit the post.
The game and the crucial bonus were now secured by the visitor, but there was still time for a fine individual try by Jones-Davies for the hosts.
Wells will enjoy a deserved week off before seeking revenge at home over a Chobham side who pulled off a surprise victory in November.