Rugby: Tonbridge Juddians beat Barnes in play-off charge

1887 The Pantiles
PUSH FOR VICTORY: TJs’ pack drives Ryan Jackson over to score PHOTO: Adam Hookway

TONBRIDGE JUDDIANS climbed to third place in National Two South after their bonus-point victory at Barnes, aided by three fixtures being postponed due to freezing conditions.

TJs were soon on the attack, and a lineout catch found Will Robinson who cross-kicked to Hugo Watson on the left wing. He freed up his hands well in the tackle to feed Toby May, who crashed over for an unconverted try.

Barnes hit back soon afterwards with a try of their own to level at 5-5.

But TJs were having more joy from the lineouts and the ball was flung wide to Watson again.

Although he was held up initially, the support arrived and he was driven over with Robinson converting, and the visitors headed into the warmth 12-5 ahead at half-time.

A doughty Barnes defence was proving their worth but TJs stretched their lead soon after the start of the second half as they came out looking to increase the pressure.

Successive penalties to the corner culminated in a drive over the line, Ryan Jackson dotting down in the crush and Robinson converting.

MAY THE FORCE: Toby May crashes over for the first try PHOTO: Adam Hookway

Barnes fought back hard, resulting in a yellow card for Ben Ashmore, and the home side crossed soon afterwards to narrow the margin to 19-12.

Robinson converted a penalty and then May made a break on the left, found Duncan Tout on his inside and he fed Finlay Coxon-Smith to charge in from 25 metres and secure the bonus point, Robinson adding the extras.

But Barnes were not done yet, and after fine passing and running a penalty to touch took them close to TJs’ line.

In defending play-off the lineout prop Alex Reid was yellow-carded, leaving the pack one man short at the subsequent scrum.

Persistent pressure led to Barnes’ third try, which was not converted. The hosts resumed their assault for the final ten minutes of the match but TJs’ defence was resolute.

TJs, who are just six points behind second-placed Canterbury in their drive for a play-off place, host runaway leaders Rams from Reading on Saturday [February 9, kick-off 2.30pm].

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