Rugby: Coxon-Smith edges frantic battle for Tonbridge Juddians

Rugby: Coxon-Smith edges frantic battle for Tonbridge Juddians
FINISHING TOUCH: Tom Nicoll scores after a strong pack drive PHOTO: Adam Hookway

TONBRIDGE JUDDIANS emerged triumphant from a close-fought National Two South battle at The Slade that swung first one way, then the next.

The hosts began the match in lively style and were soon on the scoreboard with two penalties from Will Robinson.

A mistake put Old Reds on the front foot and a converted try put them in front by a point. But Robinson slotted two more penalties to give TJs the lead again.

Reds then slotted their own three-pointer just before the break and both sides went in very much in the mix at 12-10.

In the second half TJs were soon in trouble at the scrum, penalised for wheeling whilst being pushed backwards.

This gave Old Reds a good attacking position and with ball in hand they moved quickly from right to left and went over for a try.

Old Reds were not without their own problems, though, and they too found themselves on the wrong side of the officials.

TJs used a penalty to kick to the corner and the pack eventually drove over with replacement Tom Nicoll touching down. Robinson converted to give the hosts a two-point lead.

The game swung from end to end both sides having their moments. It was Old Reds’ turn to take back the lead. A knock-on in defence set up the visitors with an attacking scrum and this time the ball went out for their right winger to score an unconverted try.

TJs responded well with a lengthy attack during which they battered Old Reds’ line repeatedly with short forward drives, but all to no avail.

Robinson finally tried a chip-kick over the defensive line and the ball, bouncing into goal off the goal-post, defeated Old Reds’ cover.

Finlay Coxon-Smith gathered and touched down whilst all around him was chaos, and Robinson converted to make the score 26-22.

There were still 10 minutes to go and Old Reds smelt a win. A series of drives and expansive back play secured them another try and a one-point lead, leaving TJ supporters in despair.

But more was to come as Dave Irvine and Coxon-Smith drove TJs deep into Old Reds’ territory. Yet another offside gave Robinson a penalty to the left of the posts, which he notched to give TJs the lead back.

Old Reds did have an immediate chance to snatch victory after an infringement but a long-range penalty attempt fell short.

So after a ding-dong game of great excitement and fluctuating changes of fortune, TJs emerged from the fray as somewhat fortunate winners.

The win lifted the Tonbridge side into fifth place in the table. They take a break before returning to action with a first away trip to Dings Crusaders in Bristol on November 17 [kick-off 3pm].

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