Rugby: Bedford’s injury-time spree frustrates Tunbridge Wells

Rugby: Bedford's injury-time spree frustrates Tunbridge Wells
DOUBLE TROUBLE: Christian Earle scored twice for Wells PHOTO: Bruce Elliott

TUNBRIDGE WELLS had to settle for a draw after an enthralling game as their focus and energy levels slipped and they gave away 17 points in five minutes of injury time.

It was Bedford Athletic’s first visit to Tunbridge Wells in the London and South-East Premier League and they soon took the lead as Wells fluffed a clearance kick after nine minutes.

But it took just four minutes for Wells to be back on terms as a handling move including returning skipper Ryan Taylor-Dennehy saw the ball reach Matt Spicer, who took his chance well to score in the corner. Fly-half Frank Reynolds slotted a fine conversion against the wind from the touchline.

Wells soon established their dominance in the scrum which they were to maintain for the rest of the game with Aston Croall, Josh Pankhurst and Brendan Crosilla turning the screw.

Despite being against the wind Wells handled well and occupied a high field position. They increased their score on 16 minutes as Christian Earle finished a rolling maul and Reynolds again added the extras.

The game see-sawed from end to end with both sides defences to the fore. Bedford drew level on 31 minutes with a fine midfield passing movement which culminated in centre Harry Sawford-Smith scoring under the posts and James Mortimer converting 14-14.

Soon afterwards the visitors’ skipper Rob Watkins received a yellow card and Wells came straight back as the visitors made a handling error in midfield.

Back row Josh Hawkins retrieved the ball and it went through several hands to Nick Doherty, who scored Wells’ third try. Reynolds converted for a half-time lead of 21-14.

At the restart Wells kicked the ball in the right-hand corner and kept the opposition trapped there until Reynolds increased the lead on 52 minutes with a simple penalty.

For the next 20 minutes Bedford were unable to get into the Wells half. With five minutes of normal time left, a 14-phase pick-and-drive battering of the visitors’ line before the ball was moved wide to Earle, who took his second score. That gave Wells their try bonus point and with Reynolds again added the extras to lead 31-14.

In injury time Bedford began running the ball and stretching the tiring hosts, going wide to score unconverted tries on 80 and 83 minutes before scoring another right on full-time.

Mortimer, who until then had not had the best afternoon with the boot, found form at the right time to slot the extras and tie the game.

Wells will look to make progress up the table when they travel to CS Stags in west London on Saturday [March 9, kick-off 3pm].

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