5s: Footscray 2s (13 Feb)

Fs A Plenty for Fives

Tonbridge Juddians   55   Footscray 2s   0

TJ's 5th XV avenged the earlier defeat to Footscray with a big 55 to nil win on Saturday. Footscray turned up with a full 15 but no subs and a side that differed enormously from that encountered in the away game previously. TJs had a weighty bench to call on and most were needed.

Footscray kicked off and the ball was immdeiately fielded by Dan Levett who returned it with interest after a strong run. Footscray managed to scramble their defence and they looked to drive TJs back with a series of forward drives - their backs were to see little of any useful ball all afternoon in fact. TJs managed to get the ball back and the returning Chris "Nothing up my short sleeves" Holder made as much yardage as Levett but with the boot rather than a run and TJs were back on the attack.

TJs lineout then spoilt Footscray ball but gave away a scrum which Sticky "Injury - what injury" Lawrence duly took against the head which Stu "Tummyache" Thomas picked up at 8 and drove over from a few yards out. Holder missing the conversion.

From the restart TJs again forced Cray backwards with Holder showing some silky running and sublime passing as he combined well with the back row although the final pass went to ground. Another heel against the ehad released TJ's backs and Andy "It's my birthday and I got a new pram" Scott provided the extra man to feed Nathan Sage on the inside only for him to lose the ball over the line. TJs though were not to be denied and Sticky again took Cray's ball at the scrum and this time TJs worked the short side for Howard "So U Think U Can Dance?" Mudge to crash over. 10 nil to TJs.

At this point John Pugh had to leave the field and was replaced by Damian "Youthful" Mutch at prop. The change did not diminish the TJ scrum and once more Cray lost the put in for Thomas to charge at their defence once more before the pack recycled and the backs slipped through the gears and hands down the short die again this time to put Levett in for his first. The elegant Holder slotted the extras from the touchline. 17 nil.

There then followed a period of mixed play as both sides struggled to find any flow to their game. TJs though tended to have the more go-forward and their line was rarely tested. A quick tap by Lyndon "Tenner a Game" Dobson saw TJs get behind Cray's defence and the ball found Levett again on the right. The final pass though went to ground but the energetic second row Tom Lowe was on hand to gather and crash over with Holder again adding the conversion. 24 nil.

More messy play became a little turgid as Tummy Thomas was forced to leave the field. TJs sent on their not one-legged 50 year old second row Bill"White Men Can Jump" Little, who had past a late fitness test, as the selectors had gone for front five subs a la England style for this game apparently. Less drive and more guile resulted and TJs again probed the short side as Holder grew in confidence, amazed that he had not hurt himself after 30 minutes. A quick juggle or was it sleaight of hand saw him break the Cray defence as he drew, dummied and fell over just short of their line. Fortunately he spotted the dancing feet of Mudge who took the offload and crashed over for his second. 29 nil.

Mudge then became provider as lost ball by Cray enabled TJs to attack down the left again. Speed over distance was again an issue but TJs rarely miss a chance when the line beckons and Levett was again on hand to take the scoring pass to end the half 34 nil to TJs.

The second half started in much the same way - messy all round. Cray kept at it but with a few players clearly out of position they found it difficult to put any pattern on their game. Cold hands probably did not help either in their backs as TJs tended to dominate possesison and territory for much of the half. Cray though kept at it and showed tremendous spirit throughout.

TJ's next score came from a simple but beautifully executed loop by Holder round Mudge to glide through the centre channel before spinning it left to Levett to complete his hat trick with Holder converting. 41 nil. Holder's movement and Mudge's passing ability from a stationary position, something he has worked tirelessly on since turning 30, was a joy to behold as Cray's defence locked up in admiration.

TJs were now starting to find gaps at will but Cray's scrambling defence hel firm with last ditch tackles saving the day. TJ players were at times perhaps a little selfish as a scoring pass or movement was created but neglected by runners guilty of carrying the ball too far and for too long - support runners unable to read or stay with their colleague. Matt Mitchell who was reffing clearyl noted this as we were sure he called for the ball from Mudge on one such break - strange.

TJ's made further changes with Darren Manuel on for Levett and Mountney on for a seriously injured Sticky it seemed. Footscray then went a man down as their second row was yellow carded for not heeding the ref's warnings re persistent infringement at the breakdown.

TJs should have made more of the numerical superiority but the messy play continued until the backs found a way through and Mudge again fell over the line for his thrid. Conversion added to make it 48 nil.

More breaks followed and with them the inevitable dropped pass or cold hands fumble. Cray took advantage of a few TJ errors to venture upfield but TJs absorbed the attack before snaffling the ball and setting off downfield. Birthday Boy Scott led the way in what was probably his best game in TJ colours this season as he rolled back the years to go some 40 metres before being dragged down. The pursuing back row of Mountney and Crouch then wrestled over the honours with Crouch winning and scroing the final try with Holder converting for a 55 nil win.

The win keeps TJs in second place in the league with much still to play for.

Man of the Match honours could have gone to Mudge or Levett for their trio of tries apiece but the ever elegant and always worth watching Chris Holder got the vote this time for some rangey kicking and running that goes to show that Quality is always worth having on your side.

Squad - Pugh (Mutch), Lawrence (Mountney), Kerr, Lowe, Lonsdale, Crouch, Mardon, Thomas (Little), Dobson, Holder, Levett (Manuel), Mudge, Sage, Lark, Scott

Subs used - Little, Mountney, Mutch, Manuel, D Bader, LJ Silver and Donald Pleasance

Subs not used - Ken Penton and A N Other


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