National Three London and South-East TONBRIDGE Juddians continued their good run of form with a hard-fought bonus point win over Shelford at The Slade.
Three first-half tries gave TJs the platform to go on and win the game in tricky conditions on a damp and dark Saturday afternoon.
The contest started brightly for TJs as they dominated the ball and territory, before Mike O’Sullivan, who was freshly returned from injury, drove over for the first try.
Shelford then hit back with a try of their own, which in turn prompted a swift counter that saw Liam Prescott add a penalty to restore TJs’ lead.
Zain van Rensburg repeated the O’Sullivan effort with a kick to the corner followed by a lineout drive that was well executed by the TJs’ pack.
Hugo Watson, who was involved throughout in many of TJs’ best moments, crashed over for a second try after a loose ball had been hacked through.
Prescott added the extras to send Shelford indoors 20-5 adrift – and TJs to a hedge for shelter from the elements.
TJs supporters might have expected the team to run in a few more tries in the second half, but they could muster just one more as chances went missing. The Shelford defence held firm, especially around the tackle area.
Murray Galbraith-Lowe was the bonus point try-scorer as another hack through the lines took him right to the dead-ball line, where he was able to dot down before it went dead. Prescott added the extras again.
Shelford scored last right at the death to make it 27-10 to TJs.
Coach Pete Dankert hailed the win as significant in ensuring that the team maintain their standing at the top of a particularly competitive division in the National Three London and South-East League.
He said: “I was pleased with the result but felt we should have exerted more pressure on the visitors with ball in hand.
“Fair play to them, though, as they came with a game plan to slow the ball down and they succeeded.
He added: “It was great to have Sully [O’Sullivan] and Will Ward both back from injury and the squad is looking good after a week off. We have got Dorking next and they are on a run so it should be a cracker of a game at their place.”