Tunbridge Wells 35
Bedford Athletic 30
In March the Midlanders had pulled off a remarkable 31-31 draw at St Marks having trailed 31-14 with seven minutes left – and history nearly repeated itself.
Wells’ outside half Frank Reynolds opened the scoring with a penalty from 25 metres but Bedford then profited from a period of possession with two of their own three-pointers.
The home team now enjoyed their best
period of play in the first half, and from a five-metre lineout Wells mauled over the
line for hooker Stuart Nicholls to score his
first try at this level; Reynolds’ conversion
was pushed wide to leave the score at 8-6.
Wells continued to attack and though Harvey Colangelo was thwarted short of the line, the ball was moved to Nick Doherty, who burst over between the posts for a converted try.
Poor discipline and lack of precision allowed Beford back in and a clever grubber kick was gathered by No 8 James Wallace for a try near the posts, Leo Mortimer adding the extras.
Three minutes before half-time a Bedford rolling maul surged forward to give lock Dan Sim a try, and Mortimer added the conversion to give his side a 20-15 lead going into half-time.
A touch of flair restored Wells’ lead and their confidence after a thunderous tackle by Ben Whale saw the ball run loose deep in the home side’s half.
Reynolds hacked the ball forward and
it looked likely to go into touch near the
Bedford line before he showed great dexterity to flick it back just inside the field of play for Max Hobbs to cross.
The fly-half completed his moment of magic with a fine touchline conversion, and after missing one penalty kick he slotted two
more to stretch the lead to 28-20 on the hour.
Wells secured their bonus point when
Ryan Taylor-Dennehy capitalised on good
work from Mike Doherty to gallop over from
30 metres for a converted try.
With a 15-point deficit to make up, Athletic
took advantage of a failure to clear the home lines as Sims crossed for his second try
out wide, which was not converted.
A second try for the visitors two minutes
later caused nerves to fray as Steve Smith dummied 40 metres out and run in for Bedford’s own bonus-point try – though the simple conversion was put wide.
Wells move up to fourth in the table and now have a week off before travelling to Sidcup (8th) on Saturday December 7 (kick-off 2pm).
Stalwart Exall dies aged 91 after building club’s future
A MINUTE’S silence was held before kick-off at St Marks to remember John Exall, Tunbridge Wells’ oldest life vice-president, who died last Friday at his home
in Eastbourne aged 91.
Former president Roger Clarke writes: “John will be remembered fondly for some 70 years-plus involvement with Old Skinners’ and Tunbridge Wells RFC as a talented and competitive fly-half.
“John ensured that his whole family was involved in the club with wife Audrey and daughter Lynda helping every Saturday
in the old wooden clubhouse.
“And his sons Nigel and Jonathan graduated through to the 1st XV, which Nigel captained, while youngest daughter Alison helped with pre-season training.
“John became president of the club and a leading light in encouraging the building of the new brick two-storey clubhouse. He will be missed for many reasons: for his leadership at
a key point in the club’s history, for his ability to relate to so
many who played at the club, for his rugby stories going back to the end of the
Second World War, and for his belief
in the ability of TWRFC to grow and