Rugby: Tonbridge Juddians half-backs run show at Old Redcliffians

Rugby: Tonbridge Juddians half-backs run show at Old Redcliffians
LEAD FROM THE FRONT: Captain Mike O’Sullivan scores from a forwards’ drive PHOTO: Adam Hookway

TONBRIDGE JUDDIANS returned to action in Bristol with an impressive victory against a side who have held something of a hoodoo over them in National Two South.

After a weekend off the visitors were looking to keep up their challenge at the top of the table, but Old Reds had not lost at home so far this year despite being in the lower reaches.

A controlled first-half performance by TJs up the slope and into a strong wind gave them the platform to out-gun a spirited Reds side and earn another bonus point win.

At first they could not escape their own 22 and Reds got on the scoresheet first but then Will Robinson stepped and fended to make it to the tryline, where he offloaded to Duncan Tout to dot down. Robinson converted to level the scores.

This set the blueprint for TJs as Charlie Edwards tapped and sniped from scrum-half and the forwards took it on in phases before Edwards finished the offensive by going over and Robinson converted.

Robinson proved elusive for the Reds’ defence. Edwards again took it on and this time Ryan Jackson was on hand to crash over. Robinson converted again for a half-time lead of 21-7.

Reds came out well after the interval and put the pressure on the TJ line to close the gap to seven points and grab a toe-hold in the game.

But TJs were exploiting the spaces better and some good approach work through the pack ended with a long pass to Rob White on the right, who outflanked the defence to score. Robinson slotted the extras and TJs had a try bonus point.

The forwards were soon rushing towards the Reds’s line again. A few phases later Edwards went left but could not score until the pack arrived to drive him over, and skipper Mike O’Sullivan finished the job.

Reds kept up their intensity well to fashion a third try but TJs took the game away from them as another outflanking move saw Finlay Coxon-Smith stroll in unopposed to make it 19-40.

The home side managed to secure a try bonus point for themselves before the end, putting pace on the ball up the slope and cutting an excellent line to score a fourth try.

A fiercely contested encounter had produced some excellent quality from both sides but it was TJs’ half-backs who controlled the game better.

Henley had taken over from them in third spot the previous Sunday by beating fifth-placed Taunton Titans, so TJs have to settle for fourth.

Tonbridge are back at The Slade to take on Dings Crusaders on Saturday [March 9, kick-off 3pm].

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