Tunbridge Wells 45 Chobham 10
WHEN Tunbridge Wells played host to Chobham they were not only looking to avenge a pre-Christmas defeat in Surrey.
At this stage of the season they have to win all of their remaining games in the hope that they can exert sufficient pressure on Havant – who are one place above them in the league – to beat their Hampshire rivals to the promotion play-off place.
Two players were making their First XV debuts – centre Fionn McLoughlin, who has joined from Old Elthamians, and prop Ciaran Lee, formerly of Old Alleynians and son of club stalwart Rob Lee.
The visitors were in the ascendancy in the early phases and deservedly took the lead on 10 minutes via an Alex Seers penalty kick. But Frank Reynolds soon replied in kind.
From a McLoughlin break on the half-hour, Wells recycled the ball and after a couple of surges Hayden Pengelly forced his way over.
A couple of penalties by Reynolds made it 14-3 at the break. The second half was to be one of the most controlled team performances of the season.
The tone was set after 90 seconds. Nick Doherty burst from the back of the scrum, drawing in the defence, and he popped a blindside ball to skipper Lee Campion who dotted down for the try.
On 53 minutes some highly skilled interplay between man of the match Matt Cook and new boy McLoughlin released John Rumsey, who cruised in from 30 metres.
From a lineout four minutes later, a Wells drive was thwarted but Doherty managed to force his way over for the crucial bonus point try.
A fine move sent the Chobham wing Liam Monaghan through for a deserved try that made the score 33-10.
But Wells’ reaction was almost immediate. Doherty launched another attack from the base of a scrum and a weak defence could not stop him.
Finally Reynolds cleverly nudged the ball over the defence and Player-coach Cook gathered it in and charged over from 30 metres.
With Havant winning but failing to secure the bonus, the gap between second and third in London One South has been reduced to four points.
Next week’s game is now hugely important as Wells travel to champions-elect Sidcup for a contest they simply must win.