Tout at the double as TJs survive fightback

Tout at the double as TJs survive fightback
Tonbridge Juddians

With The Slade again under water, TJs had to switch the venue to the Vizards 3G artificial pitch at The Judd School again.

The home side made the strong wind at their backs count early on with territorial dominance, but both sides were soon down to 14 men with two forwards in the sinbin.

TJs opened their account with two tries that came from sweeping movements between forwards and backs, before Will Robinson sent first Duncan Tout and then Tom White through holes inside the first 12 minutes, Robinson converting one.

Clifton set about getting a toehold in the game, but could only slot a penalty initially. However, some slack TJ tackling allowed them to get downfield on 20 minutes, and openside flanker Dan Broady went over and fly-half Brad Barnes converted.

TJs needed a reaction, and they went up a gear from the restart, forcing Clifton back into their own 22. After a few phases of mauling Will Colderick, who had his best game for a while, charged over to score and Robinson converted.

After TJs kicked deep from a penalty, Dave Irvine climbed to gather and skipper Mike O’Sullivan charged over to score, White converting.

The try bonus point was already in the bag as TJs headed into half-time 26-10 ahead, but they were cautious, having lost 33-32 at Clifton earlier in the season.

After the interval Colderick scampered 40 metres and Charlie Edwards fed Hugo Watson, who sidestepped and sat down his defender to score.

Then Irvine’s gallop down the left was held up inches short of the line, but a deft offload to Tout allowed him to score his second.

But there was still half an hour remaining, and the visitors began their fightback on 53 minutes as TJs fell off a couple of tackles and Finlay Sharp sped through to score.

It was the first of three tries for the rapid wing, while replacement Alex Lambert also went over, but Barnes was unable to convert any of them from wide positions in the wind.

With Finlay Coxon-Smith having been sent to the bin, Clifton mounted another attack out wide, but TJs managed to double-tackle a Clifton flier and turned the ball over.

The home forwards kept the ball in the middle of the park to run down the clock, and there was great relief among the spectators as they secured a narrow victory.

So Tonbridge held on to their two-point lead at the top of the table, but with both Taunton Titans in second and third-placed Henley Hawks also securing maximum points, the race for the title continues apace.

TJs have a weekend off before travelling to Esher on March 21 (kick-off 3pm).

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