[quote_left]An enthralling encounter between the top two teams[/quote_left]

In front of their best attendance of the season, and a fantastic, vocal crowd at that, the Wild Geese defeated their nearest challengers – Tonbridge Juddians – by 25 points to 22 at Hazelwood in the penultimate National League 3 game for both teams, to ensure promotion as Champions to National League 2 for next season.

The opening half did not reflect what came later as it ended 3 points apiece, in what was rather an unstructured 40 minutes. TJs opened the scoring with a penalty goal after 5 minutes and Ollie Turner replied in kind after 29 minutes. Whether it was pre-promotion nerves or whatever, this was cast aside as soon as the second half got underway. In no time at all the Wild Geese had scored two tries to give them a 13-3 lead; the first was by George Owen after 4 minutes and the second was by Darren Livett after 8 minutes of the half. TJs hit back almost immediately with a converted try to make it 13-10 after 10 minutes. The Wild Geese scored a penalty goal through Turner to increase their lead to 16-10 inside a further 4 minutes.

[blockquote]Report from John S Hunter[/blockquote]

The tumultuous finale to the game started when TJs took the lead for the first (and, fortunately, only) time in the game with another converted try, to make it 16-17 after 18 minutes. The Wild Geese gradually clawed their way back with two penalty goals from Turner, after 23 and 31 minutes, followed by a drop goal from Pete Hodgkinson after 40 minutes, to make it an almost unassailable 25-17. Then, well into injury time, a Wild Geese player was yellow carded and TJs scored a try to make it 25-22. Their hopes of a penalty goal, at least, to snatch a draw and prolong matters for another week, were dashed by the referee’s full-time whistle – and the Wild Geese celebrated!

The final score of 25-22 was a fair reflection of an enthralling game, for which both teams must be given due credit. As Adrian Mulleady, the Wild Geese Team Manager, said “TJs are a very good side” and the Wild Geese had to be at their best to defeat them – which they were. After the 15-15 draw at Tonbridge earlier in the season, it is abundantly clear that these are the best two teams in the league, and it would be no surprise if TJs joined the Wild Geese in National 2 via the play-offs. Good luck to them in that but the Wild Geese will really enjoy their visit to Guernsey now.

London Irish Wild Geese: Charlie Connor, Matt Cornish, Jerry Cronin; Michael Jones, Brent Jones; Sean McKeon, Scott Moore (Capt.), Darren Livett; Tom Barker, Pete Hodgkinson; George Owen, Seb Rodwell, Ben Kitching, Ollie Turner; Jordan Gott. Replacements: Eddie Fraher, Liam Martin, Tom Richards.

[quote_left]Simon Martinson on Facebook:[/quote_left]
So proud of a squad of players who have today won National 3 SE. Couldn’t have been done without the backing of the players from the Wanderers. Trevor and Kevin need massive kudos for their work with them. Our thanks go to Duncs,Leeroy and Hodge for being the best coaching setup in this league. The hard work starts soon for Nat 2. Roll on New York. HONK!!!!

[blockquote]Images © Nick Moore 2016 and reproduced with permission[/blockquote]

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