Rugby: Wells return to form and turn on style to regain third place

    Brighton 12 Tunbridge Wells 31

    SMASH AND GRAB Jake Thompson (right) wrestles for the ball PHOTO: Bruce Elliott

    TUNBRIDGE WELLS returned to third spot in London One South with an assured away win over Brighton.

    However, this was far from a one-sided affair, with the opening 10 minutes finding the injury-depleted home side very much on the front foot.

    Following an early spell of pressure, Brighton took the lead through centre Ollie Davies-Smith and his try was converted by Jordan Wythe.

    Wells needed to regroup and they did so impressively. On 17 minutes a fine break by Frank Reynolds was taken on by Nick Doherty and then went into the hands of Jake Thompson, who beat three men from 30 metres out to score a fine try. Into the breeze, Reynolds’ conversion went just wide, making the score 7-5.

    Brighton were, in the words of the team’s manager, playing their ‘best rugby of the season’ and came back at Wells.

    However, on 29 minutes the visitors went into the lead with a superb try. Michael Hathaway picked up from the base of the scrum 60 metres out before passing to Doherty.

    He sucked in two defenders before slipping the ball inside to skipper Chaz Spence, who burst through the cover and out-sprinted the defence from 40 metres.

    With Reynolds adding the extra two the visitors were now 12-7 ahead. But Brighton were quick to respond and the teams went into half-time level.

    Early during the second half, Wells players Jake Mills and Thompson carried strongly, and after a period of sustained pressure Hayden Pengelly burst through two tackles before feeding the supporting Charlie Dagwell, who touched down on 54 minutes. Reynolds converted to make it 19-12.

    The boys from St Marks were very much in the ascendancy, with Hathaway making a further deserved try, converted by Reynolds.

    Wells were not satisfied yet, however. It was another driving run from Pengelly that took Wells back into the home 22. Spence, Reynolds and Charlie Harding then combined to put Johnathon Rumsey in for the try, producing a commanding scoreline to close out the game.

    Coach Matt Cook said: “It was good to get back to winning ways against Brighton. We weren’t that great in the first half and had some issues to sort out. But we went back out there and for the first 20 minutes of the second half there was some excellent play. But it was far from perfect.

    “Given the injury issues that we have had so far this season and not knowing this league, we’d have taken the position we are now in with eight wins and three losses. We hope to be able to go into Christmas with an unbeaten run of four games if all goes to plan.”