Rugby: Tunbridge Wells stamp authority on Shelford despite bookings

Rugby: Tunbridge Wells stamp authority on Shelford despite bookings
HANGING ON: Nick Doherty puts Shelford’s defence under pressure PHOTO: Bruce Elliott

TUNBRIDGE WELLS began their campaign afresh after the break with a bonus point win against the bottom side in the London and South-East Premier Division.

They were pleased to do so, too, having failed to secure wins against some of the lower ranked teams in the first half of the season.

The home side started slowly and were fortunate when Shelford missed a relatively simple penalty after two minutes.

But the visitors did get on the scoresheet after five minutes. Wells lost possession and then misjudged the kick ahead to see Lewis Cracknell go in down the left for an unconverted try.

Wells then had more of the ball and Nick Doherty made a telling burst on the right to feed Mike Hathaway, who took the perfect line to score on 16 minutes, Frank Reynolds converting.

Wells continued to create chances, dominating the lineout and scrum. But tries would not come due to the spirit of Shelford and Wells’ inability to keep possession in the loose.

Finally Wells found some cohesion and a minute before half-time they took advantage of a poor kick ahead to counterattack.

The ball was moved smartly to centre Mike Doherty, who carved an outside break and then cut into the posts for the try, Reynolds adding the extras.

In time added on, Wells found time for another score as they countered from even deeper, turning the ball over in their own 22.

Nick Doherty carried for 40 metres before passing to Christian Earle, and he released the supporting wing Richard Webster to go over in the right corner for an unconverted try which gave the hosts a half-time lead of 19-5.

A Wells clearance kick down the right was executed poorly in the 52nd minute, allowing Shelford to get up a head of steam.

The ball was fed to their outstanding young second row Fred Betteridge, who scored an unconverted try.

That seemed to sting Wells into action and they pinned Shelford on their line.

Mike Doherty was hauled down inches short of the line and Wells were awarded a penalty.

They opted for a scrum and the pack drove over the line for No 8 Nick Doherty to touch down the bonus point try on 64 minutes.

It felt like the job had been done but Wells’ old problem of indiscipline reared its head again with second row Josh Hawkins receiving a yellow card on 72 minutes.

Then Wells went down to 13 men for the last few minutes as Matt Spicer took an offside yellow for the team to keep the visitors at bay.

Before the end replacement scrum-half Anthony Storkey made a rapid run down the right touchline but was hauled down by an outstanding tackle from Shelford full-back Shingai Chiwanga.

Wells, who are now eighth in the table, now travel to face third-placed Westcliff on Saturday [January 12, kick-off 2pm].

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