TUNBRIDGE WELLS narrowly lost to a side that were seeking revenge for an equally tight play-off defeat two years ago.
That knockout match was the last time these two sides met, with Wells achieving promotion to the London and the South-East Premier Division at Chingford’s expense. The London side were finally promoted at the start of the current campaign.
Wells started brightly with the ball going through hands to Richard Webster, who went in at pace and scored in the far corner for an unconverted try after two minutes.
Frank Reynolds made no mistake with the boot on 10 minutes, slotting a penalty to give the visitors an 8-0 lead.
From the restart Chingford’s full-back landed awkwardly, damaging his knee, which led to a lengthy delay while he was given treatment.
When play began again, an energised Chingford came back with a powerful attack which led to an unconverted try in the corner.
Both sides continued to work hard in the middle of the field but they largely cancelled each other out for a quarter of an hour.
But with Wells conceding too many penalties in the danger zone, Chingford took advantage, converting two of them to take the lead at 11-8.
Then Chingford committed an infringement 20 metres from their line and Reynolds kicked a penalty to the corner for a lineout.
The ball was spun out to the backs and after a few probing attacks Ryan Taylor-Dennehy took it in for a converted try in the corner on the stroke of half-time to go in 15-11 ahead.
Chingford started the second half strongly and after some sustained pressure the referee determined that Mike Doherty had his hands in the ruck and sent him to the sinbin.
The home side capitalised with a try but three minutes later Wells replied with another penalty to level the scores at 18-18.
Ten minutes later, the visitors added another kick to take the lead again but as the clock ticked down they were reduced to 14 men again after further pressure on the Wells line resulted in a yellow card for Josh Hawkins.
Chingford piled on the pressure and eventually went over for the final try of the match. Although it was not converted, it was enough for the home side to sneak the victory.
Wells head coach Simon Whatling said: “Clearly we were all disappointed at the end of the game. Discipline let us down and we weren’t as accurate as we should have been.”
Tunbridge Wells, who are ninth in the table, now take on eighth-placed Dorking at home on Saturday [December 1, kick-off 2pm].