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Thor starts thunder to hammer TJ rivals

By Kent and Sussex Courier  |  Posted: November 16, 2012

thundering THROUGH: Thor Normann beats his man to score Photo by Liam McAvoy

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DERBY day, predicted to demonstrate the new gulf in class between two West Kent rugby institutions, remained competitive for the first ten minutes but in the end resoundingly lived up to its billing.

TJs handed first team debuts to a number of youngsters, and still enjoyed a 50-point whitewash over their old rivals.

Yet only a few years ago Tunbridge Wells were the team flirting with the National Leagues, while neighbours Tonbridge Juddians toiled in London Three South East. The reverse is now the case.

Indeed by the full-time whistle and following a final fifteen minutes which contained five Tonbridge tries, the gulf in class might never have looked so vast.

However TJs coach Ben Smith commended the visiting effort.

"Tunbridge Wells, in fairness, did the best they could and tried to execute when we gave them the chances. But there's a big difference in the games we play in each week and theirs," he said.

"We had much bigger men up front and in the end we played a boring old game really, taking them on up front. Rather than play fast-flowing rugby, I told everyone at half-time just to do their jobs."

Early on, a kick deep into the back right corner left the visitors unsupported and from the ensuing scrum, the ball was taken on a number of pick-and-drives before being spun across for Thor Normann providing the man advantage, eventually running it in under the posts.

Minutes later the score count was doubled, TJs touching down through ex-Wells lock James Gwinnett after rolling a maul ten metres. Dan Hawkes missed the conversion out wide, but it was already 12-0.

TJs began the new half getting their big men Toby Martin, Liam Rankin and Tom Nabbs running hard from deep straight at the Wells defence. But ten minutes in, Wells had kicked a penalty to the corner close to TJs' line, although more messy handling saw the ball trapped and then stolen from between the scrum-half's legs.

But soon TJs were close to the Wells line for a scrum. From the follow-up drive it was wing forward Buster Collins who emerged holding the ball when the maul cleared. Dan Hawkes converted for 19-0.

Now TJs were flowing and straight from the kick-off, lock Liam Rankin chased hard after a kick-ahead and worried the Tunbridge Wells' winger into knocking the ball on. Rankin picked up and Tom Nabbs was on the inside to take his pass and stride untouched down the sideline.

Five minutes later more good chasing met a Tunbridge Wells clearing kick. From the melee, prop forward Joe Reid bundled over for the try to which Hawkes, now finding a wonderful kicking rhythm, added the two points.

More scores to TJs followed. Ironically a poor pass opened the way for TJs' next, and unconverted try by Normann – his second. The pass did not reach its man or indeed any, but did distract the attentions of the Tunbridge Wells defence. Normann was the first to the wayward ball and able to speed outside the cover, touching down all too easily in the corner.

The final score came from a TJ backs' move involving Seb Lewis, Paul Dawson and Normann. The move was finished off in fine style by Gwinnett for his second try.

TJs will be concerned during the coming week with injuries to Brent Hamlin and his replacement at scrum-half George Britten, which required them to leave the field during the first half.

Tomorrow TJs host Westcliff at The Slade. Kick-off is 2.30pm.

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