Westcombe Park X-Men 22-25 Tunbridge Wells 2nd
By Jamie Taylor
X-Men get ‘held up’ on the way to first league game win
Tunbridge wells 2nd team visited Combe last Saturday to face the X-Men in round 1 of the Kent Invicta. The X-Men felt optimistic leading into the game from midweek training. Having had a good pre-season and getting a few players back from injury the squad was bolstered after a disappointing home loss to Thurrock the previous week.
Combe played away from the club first half and found themselves immediately exerting pressure in the opposition 22. Some good phase play led to Abdul Adedeji
being given the chance to show just how quick he is. Going from 0- stupidly quick he evaded tackles and fed Owen Church-Mills
on the overlap to score in the corner. Conversion missed 5-0.
The X-Mens defence this week was certainly better than the week before, however our urgency to set in D at times was lacking. This led to a speedy Tunbridge Wells response. 5-5.
As with most Basketball games……. Combe quickly found themselves again back in the Wells 22. Positive play and strong rucking led to a few penalties which Combe kicked boldly to the corner. The line out drive however wasn’t quite moving in the desired direction. So the ball was moved wide where Lewis Harte
almost scored. Tunbridge turned the ball over and kicked out to Chris Weaver
who weaved his way back towards the line but again fell short. Owen Church-Mills
fed the ball out the back where the Abdul was once again released! Abdul somehow reached the far right corner in under 5 seconds. Conversion missed. 10-5.
Disappointingly Tunbridge Wells once again responded straight away 10-12.
Unsurprisingly Combe went back on the attack and won another penalty and kicked to the corner. Tunbride Wells decided to not engage the maul so Jordan Cox
cleverly went straight between their lines to score. 15-12. H/T
The second half Combe introduced Oli Stapleton a young 17 year old centre who impressed with his carrying and ball retention. Combe had a fair amount of go forward ball, but one offload too many led to a sucession of mistakes that led to Tunbridge Wells picking up a loose ball and going in under the posts. 15-19.
Owen Church Mills came off with an elbow injury so Joe Simpson
came back on again at 10. The next 20 was spent alternating possession numerous times due to poor pass technique and excellent turnovers. Billy Bignell
and the new prop forward James McKeown
were making a nuisance of themselves in the loose. James Dennett
defended and carried hard throughout. All of a sudden Lewis Harte
(who was unlucky to be on the wrong wing for most of the action) got the ball and put in a lovely chip and chase to score under the posts. Simpson converts. 22-19.
What happened next lost us the game. Whilst some of the team over celebrated Hartes try we seemed to forget there were at least ten minutes left. Straight from the restart another poor pass led to an easy try in the corner for Tunbridge Wells. Hartes great effort now seemed in the past. 22-24.
We did have one final opportunity to steal victory with the last play of the game. A penalty and kick to the corner gave the lineout one final chance. The maul was moving closer and closer. James Simmons
falls on the ball and it seems like a given. However somehow a Tunbridge Wells player magically appeared next to him and was deemed to have held it up. Big decision for the referee which went against us on this occasion. Despite the painful end it did feel like this game had been threw away earlier. Lots of positives but lots of learning for both players and coach. Final score 22-24.
X-Men coach Joe Simpson
reported after the game ‘This was a much better performance than last week against Thurrock, but we are still lacking that killer instinct to finish teams off and not lose our concentration. Some players put their hands up and put in a good shift where as some need to knuckle down and do their job, continue to work on their fitness, train harder and learn to maintain a professional attitude throughout the warm up and entire game’
Next week the X-Men are away to OE’s development.