Rugby: Reynolds leads charge as Tunbridge Wells show spirit

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BIG BROTHER Nick Doherty fed his sibling Mike for a try PHOTO: Bruce Elliott

TUNBRIDGE WELLS kept their revival going by toppling third-placed Tring, but it was to prove no easy task against highly physical opponents with a strong defence.

Fly-half Frank Reynolds kicked a penalty to put the hosts in front after seven minutes but Ben Criddal replied in kind after a quarter of an hour.

Tring began to dominate possession, aided by Wells’ indiscipline which saw them concede a flurry of penalties for offences in the loose and Criddal put Tring ahead on the half-hour.

Then it was the turn of the visitors to lose their composure, one of their back-row forwards earning a yellow card, which allowed Wells to score a try a minute before half-time.

From the ensuing penalty No 8 Nick Doherty picked up a bouncing ball, committed the opposition and fed his brother Mike for the try.

The try was not converted but it gave the home side a slender lead of 8-6 at half-time. After the interval they held a higher position and gained a greater share of ball, with dominance continuing in the scrum and Stuart Nicholls hitting his jumpers in the lineout in tricky conditions.

Tring’s discipline snapped again as a further player was sent to the sinbin after three minutes of the second half, leaving them with five minutes to survive with two players down.

Wells kicked the penalty to touch, won the lineout and from the ensuing maul Josh Hawkins catapulted forward and reached the line for an unconverted try, making it 13-6.

Tring’s need for extra defending began to tell and Wells were able to maintain a high field position as they produced a series of turnovers in a seriously physical encounter.

On 62 minutes Tom Newton reduced the points difference with a third Tring penalty, and within a minute the hosts’ Christian Earle received a yellow for a deliberate knockdown.

Rather than struggle, though, Wells came charging back upfield, Reynolds ricocheting like a pinball to go over from 20 metres and converted his own try on 69 minutes.

With Earle back on the pitch and the penalty count going up again, Wells spent most of the last ten minutes defending tenaciously.

Backs and loose forwards put in a high tackle count as Tring applied pressure, but they finally broke through at the right corner through centre Noah Jarvis after Wells failed to hit touch from a clearance kick.

At 20-14 with a minute left of normal time, there were nerves as Wells sustained another second yellow card to Mike Hathaway, but they held out in injury time to secure the win.

It was one of the most hard-fought and high-quality victories since Tunbridge Wells joined London & South-East Premier Division, and they showed they are back to something approaching last year’s form.

Wells, who are in tenth place, now visit Bedford Athletic on Saturday [November 3, kick-off 2.30pm] before taking a weekend off.

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