Tunbridge Wells 24, Guildford 21
Guildford travelled to fifth place Tunbridge Wells on Saturday for their penultimate league game of the season, looking to set up the final weekend’s home game against Hertford this Saturday. Competing with Westcombe Park, who were playing the already relegated Southend Saxons, for the final spot in the division next year, Guildford knew that league points would be crucial to create a cushion between the two sides for the final weekend.
Guildford were able to field a near full strength team that had worked hard during the week in preparation and they started well against a strong looking Tunbridge side who kicked off to the visitors. The sides exchanged penalty kicks early on, with the home side converting their chance to make it 3-0. Although Guildford looked to have the upper hand in the initial scrums, it was Tunbridge who were awarded the first set piece penalty that took them deep into the Guildford half. The hard working Tom Devereux was able to win a turn over which Bradley Smith drove into the Tunbridge half giving Guildford a strong attacking position. From the following line out, Guildford drove forward and Smith was able to show and go from the base, darting through a gap 22 yards out and crossing to touch down behind the posts, Chisholm converting to make it 3-7 to Guildford.
Guildford continued to push into the Tunbridge half, hammering them in the set piece through a number of reset scrums and driving mauls that eventually led to a yellow card for the home side and a penalty try to Guildford to make the score 3-14 with half an hour gone.
With the momentum and player advantage, Guildford continued to apply pressure that led to a push over try for skipper Joe Garner on the stroke of half time, with Chisholm again converting to have Guildford turning around 3-21 into the lead.
The second half saw a change of tactics from Tunbridge who started to put the ball wide and make use of their big pack by picking and driving from the base. On returning to full strength, Tunbridge scored and converted from close range, which they followed up by an almost identical try a few minutes later to take the score to 17-21 with 20 minutes to play. With their confidence restored, Tunbridge against attacked from deep with their full back Ryan Taylor-Dennehy going round the defence and running half the length of the pitch only to be superbly tackled into the coroner flag by MacEnri covering across from his opposite wing.
Guildford continued to work hard and deployed their bench to good effect but were unable to stop the Tunbridge skipper Taylor-Dennehy skipping through a gap from 40 yards out and then completing a well-balanced run to the line for the decisive score. Although Guildford pushed their hosts, this would be the final score, tagging them with the 24-21 defeat and a solitary losing bonus point.
The bonus point leaves Guildford two points ahead of Westcombe Park heading into the final game of the season at Broadwater on 21st against fourth placed Hertford, with Park hosting third placed Tring. Although the league points system will mean that Guildford will be looking at the score updates closely, their fate is in their hands and coach Dave Ward will be looking for one final effort from his squad after a long season to secure their position in the London and South East Premiere Division next season.