Rapid Hobbs seals Wells’ impressive fightback

Rapid Hobbs seals Wells' impressive fightback
Tunbridge Wells rugby - Max Hobbs

London Irish Wild Geese 17 Tunbridge Wells 29

Played under lights on a perfect pitch at Sunbury on Thames, the game was to be heavily influenced by a strong crossfield wind. 

In a stop-start first half, Wells were awarded a penalty on 17 minutes which Frank Reynolds converted from 20 metres out. 

Three minutes later this advantage was cancelled out when the home side were given a penalty on Wells’ 22 for offside.

With the Wells scrum coming under concerted pressure, Irish then managed a sustained period of possession in midfield. 

Poor Wells tackling allowed Willie Lafolafo, the hosts’ impressive New Zealand flanker, to burst through for a converted try close to the posts on the half-hour.

Wells came back with strong forward play keeping them in the Irish 22 but they were unable to convert this territory into points and went in at half-time 10-3 down.

The visitors emerged for the second half with a more determined air, which was shown when Wild Geese were penalised at a lineout on the Wells 10-metre line.

The penalty was taken quickly and a 50-metre surge downfield resulted in Mike Doherty scoring a try which Reynolds converted to level the scores. 

On 53 minutes, quick thinking and precise handling saw Wells running the ball at pace from their own 22 and captain Ryan Taylor-Dennehy scored in the corner, though Reynolds could not convert from wide out. 

Three minutes later Wells scored again when Mike Hathaway touched down under the posts following strong running from No 8 Nick Doherty and Taylor-Dennehy.

Reynolds added the conversion and Wells had turned the game around in a quarter of an hour to take a 22-10 lead.

Irish did not crumble, however, and on 65 minutes sustained pressure on the Wells’ line led to the hardworking Lafolafo forcing himself over again close to the posts.

A successful conversion closed the gap to within a score with 15 minutes to play but the best was yet to come from the visitors.

Following a Wells scrum on halfway the ball was moved quickly to left winger Max Hobbs, who showed great pace and footwork to beat three defenders before scoring under the posts.

The fourth try secured the bonus point and after Reynolds converted, his side held out for the remaining 10 minutes to ensure victory.

Wells, who lie in seventh place, have a weekend off before their next match at home to CS Stags 1863 on February 15 (kick-off 2.30pm).

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