Rugby: TJs forced to fight hard after flying start to season

Pam Mills

THE new season in National Two South saw Tonbridge Juddians welcome the Birmingham & Solihull Bees to The Slade for the Midlanders’ debut at this level.

The campaign was off to a flyer for the hosts as they reclaimed the ball from the restart twice within the opening five minutes, cutting through the Bees with first Rob White and then Toby May crossing for tries.

Will Robinson added one conversion and three new recruits to the TJ ranks over the summer had already got on the scoreboard.

The Bees did not crumble, and although they had to play much of the first half in a defensive line they held reasonably firm.

One of their few forays upfield secured a well-worked try which reminded TJs they could not take the win for granted.

Just as half-time loomed, May made ground down the left and offloaded to Finlay Coxon-Smith to touch down. Robinson converted to ease TJs into a 19-7 lead at half-time.

The Bees’ defensive effort was expected to take its toll but they remained persistent thanks to some astute rotation.

A catch-and-drive try from close quarters kept the visitors in the game at 19-12 and they continued to deny TJs any time and space.

A disorganised defensive scrum from TJs allowed the Bees’ scrum-half to scamper through from 20 metres and suddenly it was all square with time still on the clock.

Proceedings became a little frantic and fractious at that point, and Robinson slotted a penalty from 40 metres to edge TJs back in front 22-19.

The home side then managed to keep the ball close to seal victory and the hard workout will be a huge benefit in the games ahead.

TJs now face a Kent derby at Canterbury on Saturday [September 8, kick-off 3pm].

PICTURE: BREAK THE ICE: Toby May touches down early in the match PHOTO: Adam Hookway

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