Tonbridge Juddians 26, v London Irish Wild Geese 37

London Irish Wild Geese took on Tonbridge Juddian today, Saturday 30th September, at The Slade in Tonbridge. The Geese went looking for a good solid performance to try and start of their winning ways this season having fallen short last week against Cinderford.
The Geese got off to a great start with winger George Owen running in the first try in the corner for the visitors with a nicely floated long pass by centre Charlie Broughton, outhalf Alex Seers, added the two-point conversion with a solid kick from the touch line to put the Geese seven points up after three minutes. Seers again added to the scoreboard with an easy penalty after a slicing run by fullback, Peter Hodgekinson, and some good positive carrying by the pack, putting the Geese 10-0 up after sixteen minutes. The home side finally managed to breach the defence of the Geese with a quick tap penalty on Irish’s five metre line to score their first try of the game and converting it to put them three points adrift after half an hour. The Geese then answered back minutes later with very impressive long-range penalty kick from the halfway line by outhalf Alex Seers to put the Geese further in front at 13 points to 7. Tonbridge then replied ten minutes later with a penalty kick at goal caused by the Geese getting caught offside in defence bringing the gap back to three points in the thirty-fifth minute. Irish were quick to increase the distance between the two scores four minutes later with a superb cross-field kick by Hodgekinson to winger Reon Joseph who beat the covering defender with ease and score the Wild Geese’ second try of the game, Hodgekinson converted the try he helped set up while Seers received treatment for a knock to the knee. Half time finished with the Geese ten points ahead of Juddians at 20-10.

The first ten minutes of the second half mainly consisted of both teams swapping possession by conceding penalties or kicking the ball away between the two ten meter lines, but it was Tonbridge who grabbed the first score of the second half with a series of hard carries pushing the Wild Geese deep into their half and coming away with a hard-fought try and converting it to bring the hosts to within three points of the Geese yet again. Not long after the try Tonbridge began another assault on the Irish twenty-two, almost resulting in another try, but thanks to some good scramble defence by the Geese the referee judged the ball to be held up and awarded a penalty to the hosts for a previous infringement by the Geese, this allowed them another simple shot at goal in front of the posts bringing the game all square for the first time in the match at 20 points apiece.

It took the Geese another five minutes to finally get their first points of the second half which came from the boot of Hodgekinson to put the Geese back in front at 23 points to 20. The next score came in the form of another kick at goal for the hosts, coming from another offside penalty against the Geese bringing the score level again at 23 points apiece. After several phases and infringements from both sides the visitors broke the brief deadlock with a well worked try by open-side flanker Tyler Bush set up by the quick thinking of scrumhalf Chico U’Chong who spotted a small gap at the side of a ruck and took it to offload to Bush for a clear run to score under the posts along with the easiest of conversions for Hodgekinson putting the Geese Back in front at 30 points to 23. With only fourteen minutes left in the match, the Geese give an unfortunate penalty at a ruck on their own 22 metre line allowing the hosts to bring themselves within one score of the try bonus point hunting Geese at 30-26. The Geese almost got their desired fourth try when winger Reon Joseph again found himself in space of a half-blocked kick but was just held onto by the covering wing of Tonbridge with only ten mins to go in the game. With seventy-sixth minute, the Geese had worked themselves into a very good position on the Tonbridge five-meter line with a scrum to come, a hard carry by Wild Geese debutant Charles Broughton, set up the cherry on top of a determined performance for left wing George Owen to score his second try of the game and the bonus point win for the Geese. Hodgekinson converted the well worked try keeping both his and outhalf Alex Seers’ kicking at 100% and ending the game with the Wild Geese’ first win in National League 2 South 2017/2018 season with a final score of London Irish Wild Geese 37 – Tonbridge Juddians 26.

LI Wild Geese:
1. James Hallam
2. Jack Cohen
3. Charlie Conor
4. Callum Haggett
5. Sam Hobbins
6. Scott Moore (C)
7. Tyler Bush
8. Joe Touma
9. Chico U’Chong
10. Alex Seers
11. George Owen
12. Joe Price
13. Charlie Broughton
14. Reon Joseph
15. Peter Hodgekinson
16. Brad Clements
17. George Dean
18. Zaki Chamnoui
19. Archie MacKay
20. Ollie Turner

Match Report by Gerard O’Reilly, edited by Matthew Cassin