Relentless TJs are forced to dig deep for victory
Tonbridge Juddians: 16
TONBRIDGE Juddians had to dig deep to record their fifth straight league win of the season away at Wimbledon.
Their start was fine. Penalties from Barnett put TJs six points up after fifteen minutes. In fact, it might well have been nine points had Barnett's usually reliable boot converted a third penalty. Additionally, centre Sykes came very close to crossing the line - things were looking promising.
And then Wimbledon made their own start on the game. A penalty kick into the corner gave them a strong attacking position. TJs failed to take the opportunity to clear a following kick-ahead and although an initial surge for the line was successfully resisted, a second drive produced the first try of the match which Wimbledon's full-back converted. TJs were now behind.
As is customary some harsh words sent TJs storming back on the attack and they forced a penalty, which they opted to take as a scrum. Regrettably, although winning the ball twice in an excellent position they failed to get it to the wings.As the half continued, the game became ever more scrappy and at this stage a very hesitant TJs seemed to be the less likely to score.
The second half did not start well. TJs were penalised for crossing right under the posts when trying to run the ball out of defence. Fortunately, this time Wimbledon's full-back was inexplicably off target.
The one area where TJs had the better of the opposition was in the scrum. On at least four occasions Wimbledon were pushed off their own ball. On the other hand, Wimbledon had a very well-drilled line-out and constantly thwarted TJs' line-out drive with an impressive counter-drive of their own.
A loose ball from the line-out was not dealt with by TJs' defence and Wimbledon's wing was awarded a try in the right hand corner. It was a difficult kick and the conversion attempt failed to find its mark.
Now at 12-6 down there was a very real possibility that TJs would lose the match. And if they were going to score through a passing move and win the match their handling and decision-making had to improve.
TJs started to win more of the ball and apart from a very close effort by Campion - forced into touch on the right wing - they seemed to be still far from scoring.
It was some 25 minutes into the second half that TJs finally took the lead.
Two successful scrums by TJs eventually brought their reward and it was the robust Blom at number 8 who barreled his way over for Barnett to add the two extra points. Relief at last as TJs were now in front 13-12.
Matters were not quite finished.
Despite the fact that TJs had the better field position and tried their damnedest to add to their lead because of their inability to pass and catch a wet ball, it simply would not happen.
Indeed, an interception by Wimbledon's centre would have brought a last minute change of lead had it not been for some timely and excellent covering.
Towards the end of the game TJs had at last established some dominance and following a series of offences by Wimbledon's defenders desperate to keep their visitors out, Barnett kicked a fine penalty to take the final score Wimbledon 12 Tonbridge Juddians 16.
This was not a pretty game but a win, when playing rather poorly is nevertheless a win and it keeps TJs at the top of the league just one point ahead of Beckenham.
They will need to play more than a little better when they welcome Dover to The Slade, kick-off 3.00pm.
Tonbridge Juddians: Yeomans; Farmer, Sykes, Harding, Campion (Chandler); Barnett, Jennings; Ambrose, Stoor, Evans, Carroll, Thorpe (capt), O'Toole (Peters), Martin, Blom.