Rugby: Tunbridge Wells edged out by leaders Sutton & Epsom

1887 The Pantiles
SMASH AND GRAB: Rich Murray tries to steal the ball, supported by Jake Caddy (left) and Stuart Nicholls PHOTO: Bruce Elliott

TUNBRIDGE WELLS came close to causing an upset against the top side in the London and South-East Premier Division.

The fixture was switched to Bennett Memorial School’s 3G pitch to allow St Marks to recover from the wear and tear created by Kent Under-20’s game against Eastern Counties.

After a succession of pick-and-drives S&E were first to score on six minutes as their second row George London went over, Sam Hurley converting.

On 20 minutes Wells’ inside centre channel was opened up and the ball was shipped to full-back Hurley, who scored from halfway and converted.

Wells reached half-time with no further damage. Finally Frank Reynolds got them on the scoreboard with a penalty off the upright within a minute of the restart, followed by another well-struck effort in the 52nd minute.

The home side were now dominant as Rich Murray made a great catch and counter to set Mike Doherty off on a run to within five metres.

The back line worked wing Matt Spicer into position to score a well-taken try as he crashed over from 20 metres on the hour, Reynolds converting to reduce the deficit to one point.

A combination of S&E slowing the game down and Wells not quite finding the finishing touch left the home side frustrated.

A long-range penalty from within their half in the 78th minute gave Wells a shot at victory but it fell tantalisingly short.

The close contest will give Wells confidence that their run of form is gaining momentum in the second half of the season to lift them clear of the relegation zone.

Wells now visit Tring in Herfordshire on Saturday [February 16, kick-off 2.30pm].

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