Published: 08:42, 06 December 2021
| Updated: 14:31, 06 December 2021
By David Challis
Tonbridge Juddians were narrowly denied a second successive National League 1 win on Saturday after a 21-19 defeat at Leeds Tykes.
The game began brightly for the away side as they squeezed Tykes through an intelligent kicking game and a strong defensive pattern. A stunning 50/22 from Murray Galbraith-Lowe got his side the field position they needed and a resulting penalty saw TJs take the lead.
Ryan Taylor-Dennehy stepped up to fly-half following a late injury withdrawal from Tom White, and the former Tunbridge Wells man impressed after coming in at such short notice on a tough day playing into a gale-like crosswind.
Leeds hit back fast and two successful penalties gave the hosts the advantage, but Taylor-Dennehy restored parity after a clever break from captain Matt Walsh off a goalline drop-out.
However, Leeds struck a big blow shortly afterwards. An intelligent spot off the side of the maul saw the home side sneak down the blindside, isolating Walsh to scoot away for the try.
This sparked TJs into life though and back-to-back impressive mauls led to Perry Parker dotting down in the corner, followed up a sweet Taylor-Dennehy strike, and it was all square going into the break.
For the second time this season TJs TV was in operation back in the clubhouse and those supporters were treated to an impromptu interview with ex-England head coach Stuart Lancaster, who predicted a tight finish and he was proved correct.
The kickers traded blows after the break to see the score rise to 16-16, then a crazy five minutes decided the match.
A stunning break from Galbraith-Lowe looked to have given Tonbridge the momentum. However, a loose offload a few phases later allowed Leeds to kick ahead and Matt Foulds was forced to commit a cynical penalty in order to stop what looked a probable try.
The Spanish international was sent to the sin-bin and suddenly it was all Tykes. Juddians' defence held firm for a while, but eventually the extra man told and the home side raced five points clear.
With 10 minutes left TJs added another three points through Taylor-Dennehy after a scrum penalty, but they just fell short after a sensational final scrum from the home side ended any chance of a last-minute victory.
Tonbridge host Taunton Tigers on Saturday.