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Tunbridge Wells

A confident return to league rugby...

Tunbridge Wells 7 Cobham 45

7th March 2009

On a cold afternoon in Kent, a Cobham XV much changed from last week’s Surrey Cup game proved too strong for Tunbridge Wells in the London 2 league fixture.  Returning to the team were Andy Alexander at prop, Spencer Franks at scrum-half, David MacCallum and Kevin Fisher at centre, Piers Gregory and Tim Green on the wings, and Aaron Cowell at full back; skipper Jack Davison also returned, and started on the bench.1sts v Tunbridge Wells (a)

The early pressure came from Tunbridge Wells, who spent much of the first 10 minutes in the Cobham half, though without posing a significant threat to the Cobham line.

After 12 minutes, with Cobham mounting their first real excursion into Tunbridge Wells’ territory, initial good work by Franks led to a strong run to the right by MacCallum where the ball was won and worked left - creating an overlap for full back Cowell, who touched down wide out. Green missed the difficult conversion.

On 18 minutes a powerful run by centre Fisher was wasted as a result of a Cobham forward being unable to stay on his feet in the ensuing ruck. It was shortly after this that referee Mr. Sampson - who had a good game and helped the game flow throughout - had to remind Cobham scrum-half Franks that as referee he was the sole arbiter of fact, and that he would prefer Franks to concentrate on his role as a mere player, rather than trying to referee the game too.1sts v Tunbridge Wells (b)

Centre MacCallum was influential for much of the first thirty minutes, running intelligent lines and once setting up a fifty metre Cobham advance with a decisive break in midfield.  Despite a couple of mis-communications between the returning Franks and number 8 Ben Creed, the Cobham back row and tight five was now exerting an increasing influence on the game. Lock forward Pickett was prominent in a number of drives deep into Tunbridge Wells territory. In the tight, the Cobham pack was beginning to shunt their Tunbridge counterparts backwards at the set scrum; the line-out too was providing a secure source of quality ball for the away team.

But at 5-0 the game was still tight. After 33 minutes though, Cobham went another score ahead; Piers Gregory crossing for a try after concerted pressure and a number of phases through which possession was re-cycled. Green converted.

Half time came with Cobham leading 12-0, a score which flattered Tunbridge Wells a little, but also reflected their determined commitment in defence. There were signs though that the Cobham team was beginning to dominate up front and that it was only a matter of time before the Cobham three quarters - marshalled for most of the half by the quietly efficient Taylor and featuring the quick passing and direct running of centres MacCallum and Fisher and wings Gregory and Green - would begin to take their toll on the opposition.

The second half began with skipper Jack Davison on from the bench for Ben Creed, and Nick Sutton at fly half, having replaced the hamstrung Dan Taylor late in the first period.  Like the first half, the second began with a period of pressure by Tunbridge Wells, with mobile lock Dodds prominent in the loose and supported by intelligent kicking by fly half Makepeace. Davison (J) was notable during this period with a number of pick-up and drives from the base of the scrum, which relieved the pressure on the Cobham line.

After 15 minutes of the second half however, the Cobham superiority began to tell and, after intelligent interplay between forwards and backs, MacCallum scored out to the right. Green converted to make the score 19-0.

In the next ten minutes Cobham put the game completely out of reach by scoring three further tries: for the first the Cobham pack drove the Tunbridge Wells eight back over their own line and Franks was credited with the push-over try; the second involved pressure to the right of the Tunbridge Wells posts and an inside pass to Alex Cook for the score; and the third resulted from a break by Tim Green down the left and a pass to the supporting lock Davison who crossed unopposed from 20 metres out. Two of these tries were converted by Green.

After 30 minutes Tunbridge Wells scored the try that their efforts deserved, centre Doherty running in confidently from 60 metres following the breakdown of a Cobham attack in the Tunbridge Wells half. The try was converted. Cobham had the final say though, with Nick Sutton touching down on 40 minutes close to the posts after strong running and interchanges by the Cobham back-row. Again, Green converted.

All in all a good and organised performance by the Cobham team, which built on a sound first half and then won the game going away – scoring five tries in the second period. Tunbridge Wells fought hard throughout, but in the end could not match the skills and pace of the Cobham squad.1sts v Tunbridge Wells (c)

With all four top teams in the league winning, Cobham remain in third place in what is turning out to be a very competitive London 2 Division.  Four games left to play. Leaders Basingstoke and second place Dorking still have to visit fourth place Gravesend, and these are likely to be decisive matches. Cobham have a slightly easier looking run in but, to remain in contention for a promotion place, it is important that the team negotiates its remaining games with the organisation and control that were exhibited in today’s game in Tunbridge Wells.

 

Cobham Team: Cowell; Gregory, Fisher, MacCallum, Green: Taylor (Sutton 35), Franks; Raikes (Nunn 60), du Plessis, Alexander; Davison (B), Pickett; Campbell, Cook, Creed (Davison (J) 40)

Tries:  Cowell, Gregory, MacCallum, Franks, Cook, Davison (B), Sutton

Conversions: Green (5)