Tunbridge Wells 26 Shelford 10
No win – but a gritty, brave performance
Injuries added further to an already depleted match squad but again, the replacements acquitted themselves superbly and these younger players are rapidly gaining the experience, maturity and skills required to be competitive at this level. They do not give up or let their heads drop.
Shelford started strongly and immediately put pressure on the host's try line. An early penalty was missed but in the 6th minute a well executed kick was followed up for Lewis Cracknell to score. Shelford kept up the pressure and a second scoring opportunity was lost following a knock-on at the TW line.
However, in the 20th minute a loose clearance kick from Shelford was collected, kicked over the defence and followed up for a TW try which was converted, taking the score to 7 – 5 to TW.
For the remainder of the first half, both sides were evenly matched with the Shelford defence outstanding. However, problems remained in the line-out with a number of good opportunities wasted. Just before the break TW scored again. A Shelford clearance was collected by TW in their own half and quickly passed cross-field for their wing to cut through the defence and score under the posts, making the score 14 – 5.
TW scored again quickly as a result of handling errors leaving the Shelford defence exposed and the score at 19 – 5.
However, Shelford kept up the pressure with a wave of attacks on the TW line until a solo break by Fred Betteridge resulted in Shelford’s second try, closing the gap to 19 – 10.
Again TW responded quickly. Having won a penalty deep into Shelford’s 22, they opted for a scum from which they push Shelford over their line, making the final score 26 – 10.
The last 15 minutes was all Shelford with the exception of a brilliant try-saving tackle by Shingai Chiwanga when it appeared that the TW back was clear. The final 10 minutes showed what this team can and will be doing in the very near future. Their pressure on the TW line was immense, with the ball being constantly recycled, but the try eluded them. A fine performance.
Report from Tony Roberts