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Bishop's Stortford 20 Tonbridge Juddians 23: National League 1 match report


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By David Challis

Tonbridge Juddians finished their National League 1 campaign on a high with a late win at Bishop’s Stortford.

Home supporters expecting running rugby in the sun were left disappointed as TJs turned the contest into an arm wrestle and subdued the Stortford backline to keep things as tight as possible.

Tonbridge Juddians' Matt Foulds is halted by Bishop's Stortford Picture: Adam Hookway
Tonbridge Juddians' Matt Foulds is halted by Bishop's Stortford Picture: Adam Hookway

The visitors began the game the brighter of the two teams, enjoying early field position and possession. Stortford managed to keep the away side out but conceded penalties to do so and Ryan Taylor-Dennehy stepped up to nudge his side ahead after 15 minutes.

Stortford quickly hit back, making the most out of their driving lineout and scrum. TJs defended for a long spell but suffered a blow when Bobby Bratton was sent to the sin-bin. Shortly after, Stortford touched down from the maul where the extra man proved the difference.

Judds' Charlie Edwards, in at scrum-half, then ignited his side with a scintillating break up the middle. He was dragged down short and Stortford cynically gave away the penalty to prevent the try. This allowed Taylor-Dennehy to slot the kick and cut the deficit to just one.

Stortford, however, would see their four-point cushion returned shortly afterwards when TJs failed to exit their half and conceded a penalty to trail 10-6.

Just before the break it was TJs’ turn to have success at the set-piece. A penalty, courtesy of Luke Boon at the scrum, followed by a succession of mauls in the 22, led to Joe Duffy driving over for the try and a 13-10 lead at the break.

Tonbridge Juddians' Hugo Watson on the break against Bishop's Stortford. Picture: Adam Hookway
Tonbridge Juddians' Hugo Watson on the break against Bishop's Stortford. Picture: Adam Hookway

Stortford were on the scoreboard first in the second half with an early penalty, while Tonbridge's Ryan Jackson, like Bratton earlier, was sent to the sin-bin.

However, despite being down to 14 men, TJs grew into the game. Expertly keeping possession in the middle third allowed them to build territory and pressure against a tiring Stortford pack.

Eventually the patience told and Taylor-Dennehy made a beautiful outside break on the left-hand side. The fly-half then showed great composure to draw the full-back and put Kyle McGhie in for a superb try.

Taylor-Dennehy added the extras but left the field soon after due to injury, leaving TJs down a fly-half for the final 15 minutes. Stortford then made the most of a disorganised away defence to level the game up at 20-20.

Parity was shortlived, though. As the ball was kicked into touch a Stortford player was penalised for dissent and McGhie delivered from the tee to hand TJs the win and the perfect send-off as they prepare for a promotion-chasing campaign in National League 2 South next season.

Juddians' Kyle McGhie gets stuck in against Bishop's Stortford. Picture: Adam Hookway
Juddians' Kyle McGhie gets stuck in against Bishop's Stortford. Picture: Adam Hookway
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