By Adam Hookway
Tonbridge Juddians and Sevenoaks drew 29-29 in Saturday’s National League 2 East derby.
A late try in a frantic finale gave Oaks the chance of victory, but they missed the conversion from the tee and a relieved Judds took a share of the spoils.
It all started brightly for TJs when they found space behind the Oaks defensive line and whipped the ball right for Joe Parkes to speed over after just five minutes. Sam Evans added the extras.
Oaks then stifled any Tonbridge efforts to gain momentum or fluency and enjoyed much of the ball and territory for the next 20 minutes. Pressure on the TJ line finally told and a penalty try was awarded before the visitors cossed for a converted score to lead 14-7 after half an hour.
A busy first half, with two yellow cards for Sevenoaks and one for Juddians, ended all square, though, thanks to Will Holling, who drove over from a well-worked lineout drive and Evans added the extras.
Oaks started the second half badly. Still a man short, TJs took advantage to sweep upfield before finding Holling wide right with Parkes outside him. As the Oaks defence scrambled they bought Holling's dummy and he crashed over for an unconverted try.
However TJs failed to take control of the restart and after a few phases Oaks crossed the whitewash and a successful conversion gave them a two-point lead. Evans added a penalty to edge TJs back ahead before Oaks had another man sent to the bin. More drama followed when Parkes went over, only for his effort to be ruled out.
Sevenoaks again regained the lead, this time with a long-range penalty with four minutes left, but in another twist Duncan Tout was tackled a few metres short - only for Oaks to kill the ball, the referee awarding a penalty try that left the hosts five points ahead with three minutes to go.
There was more to come, however. Sevenoaks rallied and TJs could not hold firm as a clever pass set up their winger to dive over. With a conversion to win it, the home fans feared the worst but the angle and distance defeated the kicker.
Tonbridge return to league action at home to North Walsham on November 4.