by Andy Baker
A very cold sunny day greeted both teams where the writer was a little late for the start but missed no real incidents of note. So I am told.
Tonbridge made a very good start dominating territory, but were being met with some very good Folkestone tackling. This led to TJ’s going off their feet at a ruck and conceding a penalty. Cold hands were in evidence from both sides however, as the teams traded knocks ons. With Folkestone so close to their own line they were putting themselves under pressure but a great strip from Sid Gurung and some inspired tackling from Liam Balcombe meant their line stayed intact.
The territorial advantage had to tell eventually and after such good work TJ’s scored under the post after several missed tackles. The kick was converted for 7-0.
Straight from the kick off Folkestone looked to take the fight to TJ’s, a big drive from Isaac Bergin, some good handling from Charlie Watson, James Porter and Sam Baker in the backs freed Sid Gurung on a trademark charge. This set up a ruck in TJ’s half and allowed Douglas Wood to kick over the defence. The Full back made a bit of a hash of the catch and from the resulting scrum, James Porter broke through the midfield to score close to the posts. Douglas Wood kicked the conversion to tie the scores.
This was turning into a good game with commitment in both forwards and backs, silly penalties were robbing TJ’s of their momentum, but Folkestone were starting to compete at the Rucks and Mauls and winning their fair share of possession. This was demonstrated by solid defence resisting a promising attack to get to half time came with scores all square. Folkestone made a couple of changes with Travis Jones and Oscar Peters coming on for his first game in the forwards.
The forwards are starting to work for each other and a passage of play saw almost every forward handle the ball as the ball was popped from hand to hand, unfortunately the last pass did not go to hand and TJ’s pounced on the ball to run through some poor tackling to score an unconverted try 12-7. James Evans was having a great game in the loose alongside Dylan Himbury.
Folkestone were in no mood to give up, but some quick thinking from Charlie Watson and Douglas Wood for a quick restart was pulled back from an unprepared referee. From the retaken restart, another charge from Sid Gurung, a snipe from Charlie Green saw Sid held up over the line. Folkestone were not to be denied and the same combination allowed Charlie Watson to cut inside his winger to score another unconverted try 12-12.
Not long to go now and both teams looked keen to win the match. Folkestone however, for the first time in the match, switched off and allowed TJ’s to run in another try almost untouched. The conversion was missed. 17-12.
This team has proved recently that they are no push overs and went looking for their fourth come from behind score. Great driving from Isaac Bergin and Sid Gurung drew in the TJ’s defence and the ball was spun out to James Porter who once again showed his pace and strength to go half the length of the field to score. Douglas Wood had a kick to win the game, but it fell agonisingly wide. 17-17.
A draw was probably a fair result for a game that was really good to watch.