Miss-Firing Saints Pipped!

Sunday 9th September saw The Saints take the journey over to Tonbridge Juddian RFC. The day started well with a masterclass in accuracy and patience from our talented driver Jez, hoping for a similar performance by the Saints on the park against a previously free-scoring Tonbridge side, was the order of the day and the first 5-10 minutes looked like the influence had rubbed off on the players, as wave after wave of attack had the home side scrambling in defence, unfortunately for The Saints, all too often the final pass or decision, did not match the quality of the build-up play.
After the early Saints onslaught the game started to level out, although the visitors still having a greater share of possession and territory than the host side, both teams were tough in defence, especially in their own 22m, some clear looking efforts being thwarted at both ends by some big hits, matched only by the even bigger levels of determination. Eventually a defensive line was broken…….. as Robertson had seen a gap and raced through to dot down, extras missed 5-0 saints led.
Tonbridge came firing straight back, but some good cover tackling and turnovers were keeping them at bay, still the home side attacked and each time The Saints line was threatened, the defence stood up and forced errors or created turnovers, The home were becoming frustrated, as their usual free-scoring backs were unable to break the suffocating defence, the opposite was true of Saints, often disrupting the flow of the home side, but unable to convert the turnovers or their own possession in to points, with the last pass or option not quite up to the standard of the efforts being made to keep the line intact.
Finally Tonbridge found their way over the line as uncharacteristically 2-3 tackles were missed on the home sides 15, who scored to the right of the posts, extras kicked 7-5 Tonbridge. The scored created two issues, one the home side had a dangerous runner two Saints were fired up, responding a great pace and aggression to threaten the Tonbridge 22m from the re-start, some quick interchanges and decisions found Saints short of the home line, when a penalty was awarded, quick tap caught the Tonbridge defence out of shape and Gallimore dived over, extras added 12-7 Saints.
The kick off again resulted in some good link play between forwards and backs, with the lineout functioning well and the scrum being solid, Saints again caused problems for the home defence, nearing the end of a long half, due to several injury disruptions for both sides, The Saints almost scored again, but an infringement went unpunished and Tonbridge survived as the half closed 12-7 Saints led.
Second half started in the same fashion as the first, surely both teams could not keep this tempo up for another 40 plus mins. Same pattern, same result. Saints dominating possession and territory, but unable to make the final pass count, again injuries to both sides started to have an impact, as the benches came in to play.
Some great scrambling defence saw Tonbridge stopped on 2 or 3 occasions at one end and Saints being denied at the other end in a similar fashion. Eventually the home sides 15 received the ball deep in her own half and some tired looking tackles were shrugged off, and she found her way to the posts for a converted score, 14-12 Tonbridge.
How would Saints react, exactly as before and set about laying siege to the home sides 22 with regularity and what now seemed ease, the remaining 15 minutes or so would prove to be nail-biting, as wave after wave of Saints attacks were broken down by either solid defence or the last pressure decision syndrome, this was helping to keep the home sides heads up, as time and time again Saints failed to put the final nail in.
Saints Played the last 8 minutes with 14, due to an indiscretion, even this did not change the flow of the game, and the last 3 plays led to infringements by the home side, however Saints could not find that final piece of magic to unlock the Tonbridge defence one final time. Final Score 14-12 Tonbridge.
Head Coach Brown Said after the game “Could not have asked the players for any more than they gave today, we turned over more than 10 rucks, scrummaged well, even when down to 7 in the pack. Our decision making and final pass has to be better going forward, probably left 3-4 scores out on the pitch. Tonbridge are a good side and will be happy with the win and congratulations to them, this was a good game to watch and no doubt play in, but we have to be better next week and the weeks after, if we want to do ourselves justice. We will collectively make the tweaks needed and look forward to Beckenham at home this weekend (16/10/16), in what should also be a cracking game of rugby.