Wells withstand Oaks’ mauling in tough derby

Wells withstand Oaks' mauling in tough derby

Tunbridge Wells 15 Sevenoaks 15

It was more than three years since the last meeting of the two sides at  St Marks and both clubs were looking forward to resuming a strong, but very amicable, rivalry. The last two matches had been settled by a single score, both going Wells’ way.

There was a First XV debut on the home wing for Harvey Colangelo, a home-grown talent who has played his way through the ranks from the Under-6s.

Despite wet and testing conditions the game started at a frenetic pace, and would hardly relent throughout with defensive work and the forwards dominating.

Early on the hosts suffered a setback when newly capped Polish international prop Kamil Wiecaszek had to go off with a knee injury.

Home skipper Ryan Taylor-Dennehy looked certain to open the scoring but he was stopped in his tracks by former Wells hooker Scott Sedgwick.

On 26 minutes a huge drive from a penalty saw Oaks shunted backwards and as Nick Doherty went to collect the ball the scrum popped up and was wheeled illegally, the referee awarding a penalty try to Wells and giving Sedgwick a yellow card.

Then Oaks pushed Wells off their own scrum earning a penalty, and full-back Tom Gray comfortably slotted his kick from 20 metres to make it 7-3.

But Wells had the bit firmly between their teeth and George Montgomery fed Max Hobbs, who had come off his left wing, to score two minutes before half-time; Frank Reynolds was unable to convert.

With ten extra minutes to be added, Taylor-Dennehy was penalised for holding on at his own 10-metre line, and another penalty led to a lineout near the line.

Wells were having great difficulty dealing with Sevenoaks’ speciality, the rolling maul, and flanker Josh Baldock came up with the ball to score. The tough conversion was missed and it was all to play for at half-time with Wells leading 12-8.

The second period definitely belonged to the men from Knole Paddock as they got the better of the breakdown and continued to dominate in the maul.

When Montgomery was penalised for playing the scrum-half rather than the ball another attacking maul looked likely but indiscipline from visiting prop Dan Power saw him sent to the sin bin and the penalty was reversed.

As another Oaks maul moved forward, Wells were warned but they came in offside and collapsed it. Another penalty was awarded and this time it was Wells who were down to 14 men as Ben Whale received a yellow card.

As another maul collapsed, giving a penalty advantage, fly-half Tom Simmonds chipped through into the dead ball area and Oaks centre Leighton Ralph was first to the ball to dot down under the posts. Tom Gray popped the conversion over and it was now 12-15 to Sevenoaks after 63 minutes.

With three minutes of normal time remaining the visitors were penalised for not releasing at the ruck and from 20 metres out Reynolds took the opportunity to level the scores.

But there were to be another nine minutes of added time, played in very dark and gloomy conditions, and the resilient hosts withstood repeated mauls to hang on for the draw.

Wells remain in fifth place as they travel to Hertfordshire to take on Tring on Saturday (November 16, kick-off 2.30pm).

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