TJs battle hard but fail to collect vital bonus point

Tout at the double as TJs survive fightback
Tonbridge Juddians

Tonbridge Juddians 26 Old Albanians 24

But TJs were unable to register the all-important bonus point in a narrow victory, which led to Henley Hawks gaining the summit by a single point after their victory against Westcliff.

With the Slade sportsground unplayable due to flooding, the game was switched to the excellent Vizards 3G at The Judd School.

However, the high winds brought by Storm Dennis meant there were few chances to throw the ball around.

TJs played with the gale in the first half and slick close-quarter play freed up space down the left. Toby May was quickest to gather a clever kick through to score, Will Robinson somehow converting from the touchline.

From the restart it was much of the same except with ball in hand as Hugo Watson covered the same flank and dotted down in the corner again for an unconverted try.

TJs were dominant in the scrum and a string of penalties allowed them to kick deep into Old Albanian territory but the visitors held firm in defence.

So Tonbridge opted for Robinson’s boot to add six points with two quick penalties, giving TJs an 18-0 lead after half an hour.

OAs finally got a foothold in the TJ half and after setting up a few phases they broke left and sniped to score a converted try under the posts.

TJs reacted well but still they could not break the OA defence again and had to settle for another Robinson penalty to make it 21-7 at half-time.

The second half saw OAs dominating possession but not field position and the home side drove them back to their own line.

Eventually the dam broke and Ben Ashmore crashed through to score. The conversion was in front of the posts but the wind blew the ball back at Robinson.

The OA scrum was getting stronger and with the penalty count now in their favour the referee awarded a penalty try.

Momentum was shifting quickly to the wind-assisted OAs and as they rumbled from 30 metres out to the TJ line their No 9 scampered and sniped for a converted try to make it 26-21.

The lead shrunk even further as OAs slotted a penalty from halfway to leave the home side nervous and needing to keep the ball for the final 10 minutes.

The collective effort and desire to keep their title challenge going preserved the slender lead as they went through an endless series of pick-and-goes.

TJs now have a weekend off before they head to Westcliff on February 29 (kick-off 2.30pm).

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