TJs Go Oh So Close
You can't really give anyone a 19 point lead and expect to win but TJs very nearly did it after a bruising encounter with LIWG on Saturday.
Playing into a strong corner to corner NE wind in the first half TJs probably did well to only be 19 nil down at HT against a big and well organised LIWG outfit. Some of the hits were enormous and players from both sides knew that they were in a game. TJs though looked like they were out of it and had just pride to play for after the break.
LIWG though gifted TJs an interception try early in the second half and JJ Murray scampered in to dot down under the posts and then convert. This seemed to light the TJ touch paper and they upped the pace against the bigger LIWG pack. Penalties ensued and TJs began to kick their way to within reach at 13-19 with 20 minutes to go.
As the crowd shivered in the cold Finn Lewthwaite entered the fray on the left wing and things suddenyl got a lot hotter. Lee Campion rolled back the years on the right to go finger tip close to one of his 'specials' with a chip, gather and stumble before the ball went left and Finn had his chance.
Skinning his opposite number on the outside he then stood the much larger LI full back up and danced round him as well to go in under the posts for one of the tries of the season. The conversion put TJs in front at 20-19 and the impossible now seemed probable.
London Irish had managed to secure little territory into the wind but a couple of penalties and drives earned them a further penalty within range and they slotted the 3 points well into the stiff breeze. With both sides starting to suffer a little with the full on pace and power of the game it was perhaps no surprise that the last few minutes were played out with neither side rally getting sufficient territory to score again. Great game but ultimately a disappointing result for TJs.
Elsewhere in N3L&SE Bury St Edmunds are closing in on the title after a 7-17 victory over East Grinstead. The win leaves them 5 points clear of Barnes who beat Hertford 43-14. Although BSE still have to travel to Barnes in 2 weeks time they have a much superior points difference and face Chichester and Gravesend at home in their other two games.
Chi dropped down to 7th after losing 22-25 to Amersham & Chiltern a victory which might just be enough for A&C to escape relegation. Guernsey look to have eased their own relegation worries with a 61-6 victory over CS Rugby who TJs travel to play next Saturday. Tring lost 22-33 to Gravesend whilst Westcliff lost 32-8 at Westcombe Park.
National 1 saw Blackheath continue their excellent season with a 29-27 win over Darlington MP to keep them fourth. Still 4 games left though and it is tight between them and Fylde for that 4th spot and they have to play each other still. At the top Ealing Trailfinders are probably just one win away from the title as they are 9 points clear of Rosslyn Park and 19 points clear of Coventry in third. Ealing though have still to play 2nd, 4rd and 4th but they should have more than enough in the bank to be champions.
N2S had a Saturday off and Henley should wrap up the title next Saturday as they take on Shelford with 4 games left to play. Bishops' Stortford remain favourites for the runners up spot although Taunton are just 2 points behind. Just one game in N2N on Saturday but the top two, Hull Ionians and Ampthill rested before the run in which looks like it will go down to the wire.
London 1 S leaders Wimbledon slipped up against Sutton & Epsom and lost 12-13 whilst Chobham closed to within 2 points as they beat fourth placed Sidcup 12-14. Wimbledon are now just 2 points clear of Chobham and 5 clear of Sutton & Epsom with just 3 games left so still all to play for and this one could go down to the wire when Wimbledon play Sidcup at home on 18th April.
Maidstone remain 4 points clear of Medway in L2SE after a 106-3 drubbing of struggling Aylesford Bulls. Stones have a game on hand over Medway but are taking nothing for granted after Medway beat Colfeians 41-5. Sevenoaks racked up the points as well with a 75-5 defeat of Ashford whilst Crowborough beat Deal & B 17-14. Maidstone have Deal & B, Crowborough and Colfeians still to play and you would probably not expect any of them to pose too much of a problem this late in the season.
Horsham are just one point from securing the title as they lead Dartfordians by 9 points in L3SE. A 49-12 win over Old Dunstonians whilst Dartfordians despatched Bromley 7-31 means with 2 games left it is all but over as Horsham face Uckfield and Hastings & Bexhill in their last 2 games.
NOTE -news has filtered through that Maidstone have had to forfeit their Kent Cup Semi Final with Old Elthamians as they simply cannot find a spare date on which to play the fixture. Stones have been fighting on multiple fronts inc the Cup, the Intermediate Cup and the League. So TJs will line up against OEs on Sunday 26th April at Cranbrook RFC