Tunbridge Wells 17 v 26 Brentwood
By Matthew Burr
Liam Batty hat-trick brings first 4 try bonus point win
Brentwood overcame a 12 point halftime deficit to put together a great second half performance and take maximum points home from Tunbridge Wells on Saturday. Playing up the slope with a driving wind and rain in their face, they kept their hosts to just two tries and a penalty at halftime and dominated all areas of the match in the second half to run out worthy winners.
With Ed Hornby still unavailable Charlie Wilkinson made his first appearance this season on the wing and Jack Richards started in the front row, Captain Ben Amato was struggling with a neck injury so James Vogel got a deserved start. Jack Wells, another youth product made the bench for his 1st team debut.
The game started badly for Brentwood, they struggled to get out of their own half and when Adam Thomas was yellow carded the home team kicked a simple penalty to go 3-0 up. This was followed closely by two quickfire tries, both of which were converted to move to 17-0 on 20 minutes. Whenever Brentwood managed to get some possession and territory, mistakes stopped them in their tracks but some fantastic defence kept them in the game until the passes started to stick. Two barrelling runs from Man of the Match Tijde Visser made 50 metres and put the home team under pressure in their own 22 line. Good hands from the backs and forwards gave Bradley Burr time to pick out Liam Batty unmarked on the wing and he expertly collected the ensuing crossfield kick to score in the corner.
Tunbridge had used the elements expertly and kept Brentwood on the back foot with intelligent kicking and a good kick chase but as soon as the ball was moved from the forwards Brentwood had smothered their attacks with hard tackling and organised defence. Brentwood looked dangerous in open play but were their own worst enemy at times.
Half time Tunbridge Wells 17 - 5 Brentwood
Brentwood went on to put together their best half of the season after the break, dominating the game for the entire 40 minutes. After 5 minutes, Josh Stannard beat 4 players with a brilliant break, Tom Simpson collected his inside pass and he slid over for Brentwood's second try and Burr converted. Burr kept pinning the hosts back with clever kicks and Tunbridge struggled to make any impression on the game. Their scrum, strong in the first half, began to tire and Brentwood managed to steal numerous ball against the head. Lovely rugby from Tom Simpson & James Killington put Brentwood on the front foot again, after good handling and a strong run from Wilkinson Burr picked Batty out with another crossfield kick, he took the ball at pace and scored his second of the game under the posts . His third came soon after, Henry Galligan beat 3 defenders in midfield and picked him out with a pinpoint 20 metres pass off his left hand to put the young winger clear in the corner, this put Brentwood clear at 17-26 and denied Tunbridge a losing bonus point.
A brilliant performance for the last 55 minutes and the score on halftime kept Brentwood in the game, 12 points was never going to be a big enough lead for Tunbridge with the elements against them in the second half but Brentwood were clinical in attack and destructive in defence.
Man of the Match went to Tijde Visser, immense throughout the game but was unstoppable at times in the first half, dragging Brentwood back into the game when Tunbridge were looking to increase their lead. It shows how impressive he was when Liam Batty scores a brilliant hattrick and missed out on the man of the match award.
Team: Visser, Richards, McMillan, Killington, Whaley, Aldous, Vogel, Patterson, White, Burr, Wilkinson, Thomas, Stannard, Batty, Simpson Subs: Bevans-Royston, Wells, Galligan