'Bridge Survive Toughest Test So Far
This was an epic game between two sides who were yet to taste defeat this season. 'Bridge rose admirably to the challenge.
The home team started brightly enough but soon found themselves on the back-foot as Sevenoaks push on into the Edenbridge 22. An early penalty three minutes in saw Sevenoaks take the lead, falling foul of the very strict interpretation on releasing the tackled player. A much better chase on the restart though saw 'Bridge pressing into Oaks' half. Demonstrating a hugely dominant pack, 'Bridge used this weapon to continue to advance before launching a set play from the back of a scrum on the Sevenoaks' 22. As we've grown used to this season already, Sam Tan cut a lovely line for a short pop from Lee Roberts; still with a lot to do, he deployed his trademark footwork and put himself over the line for the home team's opening score and a lead they wouldn't relinquish throughout the match.
A quick-fire second try came, this time for Edenbridge's other centre, with Will Presland making up for just coming short last week against Maidstone. By now Roberts had found his range and added the conversion to give 'Bridge a 12-3 lead.
Pragmatism hasn't really had to be a feature of Edenbridge's season so far, but it what was always going to be a nip-and-tuck sort of game, it was vital to take points when they were on offer. Having earned a penalty, Lee Roberts stepped up to the tee and continued to build the home lead 15-3 now and 'Bridge looking good.
It wasn't to stay that way however as after a penalty for a dubious high tackle was then advanced 10 further metres with the home players remonstrating with the referee and trying to ask how grabbing a player's shirt number could be deemed high; from the subsequent kick to touch, Oaks were now inside the Edenbridge 22 and launched a rolling maul. The first attempt was stopped but on came Sevenoaks, pressing closing and closer until they finally breached the Black and Gold line and went over for their first, and converted, try. 15-10 and very much game on.
Sevenoaks were now into their stride and demonstrating some lovely offloading play with a support runner at every tackle. It proved to be too much for 'Bridge to adapt to and it was not long before they were back on the score sheet and had levelled the game up at 15-15.
'Bridge rang the changes at half-time, ensuring there were fresh legs for what was going to be a full-on second-half. Sevenoaks did likewise, needing to something to shore-up their creaking scrum.
The second half saw 'Bridge look to take control of the game and take control they did. Another two tries, one each for Nick Tingley and Lee Roberts coupled to a further penalty was enough to win the game. But it was not without its own drama. Having gone 21-15 up, 'Bridge conceded out-wide. Clinging on to a solitary point lead, 'Bridge charged the conversion and it was shanked to the left, falling short by mere inches.
Back came 'Bridge, now being marshalled in the centres by Chris Lewis and Craig Decoteau doing an admirable job in their first game together for the Club. Aran Harris likewise in only his second game following his debut at Maidstone last week had a simply outstanding game, finding himself moved to scrum-half from the wing. Pragmatic Edenbridge appeared again with Lee Roberts slotting a penalty to give them a little more breathing space. A converted Lee Robert's try built an 11 point lead and despite Sevenoaks' plugging away, the fine Edenbridge defence made sure that even when they eventually clocked up a further 5-pointer, there was only 40 second left on the clock.
Pinning the visitors back deep from the restart, 'Bridge chased and forced a knock-on and the referee blew up for the end of what had been a game worthy of several leagues higher. Both sides put on an excellent display and the return fixture at the Paddock in the second-half of the season should be something to really look forward to.
Tries: Tan, Presland, Tingley, Roberts
Cons: Roberts (2)
Pens: Roberts (3)
MOTM: Lee Roberts
15. Cooper (rep. Tingley), 14. Tingley (rep. Lewis), 13. Tan, 12. Presland, 11. Friend, 10. Roberts, 9. Horner (rep. Franklin), 1. Mitchell C, 2. Mitchell D (rep. Decoteau), 3. Powell, 4. Ward, 5. Bright, 6. Smith, 7. Weaver, 8. Mitchell R (re. Bennett), 16. Franklin, 17. Decoteau, 18. Bennett, 19. Lewis, 20. Patterson