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Tonbridge Juddians 21 Taunton 24: National League 1 match report


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By David Challis

It was another tough day at the Slade as Tonbridge Juddians slumped to their 10th defeat of the season, 24-21 at the hands of old rivals Taunton in National League 1.

On a wet, soggy day in Tonbridge both sides battled hard with little between the teams but it was the away side that went away with the spoils.

Tonbridge Juddians went down 24-21 to Taunton in National League 1. (53666527)
Tonbridge Juddians went down 24-21 to Taunton in National League 1. (53666527)

TJs opened the game up perfectly, setting up an attack directly from the kick-off. Patience was key in the early exchanges but TJs had this in abundance and, 15 phases later, it was Ryan Munnelly who managed to break the defensive line and crash over for the opening score which was converted by Tom White.

TJs looked to continue the pressure but slipped up at the line-out and resulting scrum which gave Taunton the penalty. They cleared well up the field and forced another mistake from the TJs pack who gave up another penalty.

The away side took this one quickly and began to hammer at the TJs line with pick and goes. Eventually this paid off and Charlie Wright crashed over with Jack Walsh converting from in front to level the scores.

This sparked Taunton into life, and they controlled the next period of the game with on loan fly-half Walsh pulling the strings beautifully. He set up the second try with a beautiful pass to Norton who scythed through a gap to race in under the posts.

However, the home side fought back with a moment of magic from White. Under pressure on halfway, the fly-half chipped ahead and regathered his kick. Quickly thinking he chipped forwards again to the corner for the onrushing Ryan Taylor-Dennehy to score. A brilliant try and it brought the two sides level at 14-14 just before the break.

All eyes on the ball as Taunton look to break down Tonbridge Juddians. (53666529)
All eyes on the ball as Taunton look to break down Tonbridge Juddians. (53666529)

After half-time Taunton were the side that grabbed hold of the game. Stepping up their intensity in the forwards they gained ascendency at both the scrum and maul which made it difficult for TJs to get a foothold in the game.

This pressure resulted in a try out wide for the home side but the conversion was missed. This break allowed TJs to exact some pressure on Taunton and another beautiful kick from White across to Conrad Burne saw TJs retake the lead, 21-19, with a beautiful conversion.

However, some mis-execution at a scrum from the next kick-off allowed Taunton to turn the ball over and race clear, Frankie Dart eventually finishing off a lovely attacking set from the away side.

TJs had chances in the final minutes to try and retake the lead, none more so than a line-out on the 22 with the clock in the red. However, more inaccuracy would cost the home side as Taunton sneaked away with all five points.

Once again TJs showed the fight and dogged determination to stay in games at this level but not the clinical ability to secure the win at the key moments. Heading to league leaders Rossyln Park next week will be a massive challenge for TJs but one they will no doubt give their all before the Christmas break.

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