WORTHING Rugby Club’s ladies team suffered a last-minute 17-12 defeat away to leaders Tonbridge Juddians on Sunday.
The teams have a long history and over the last two seasons, a game has not been won by more than five points. Last season, Worthing took the away win and with hopes of promotion this season, they had a tough game ahead against a side in excellent form and having won six from six to sit top of National Challenge SE South 1.
Worthing went ahead after 23 minutes when centres Lauren Sandford and Megan Priest pushed Worthing right up into the Tonbridge 22. After a clean line-out take from second-row Hannah Fosbraey set up an attack, hooker Jess Turrill touched down.
The game remained near the halfway line for ten minutes, although Worthing had a second try held up before Tonbridge went over to make the score 5-5 at half-time.
The second half started like a dream for Worthing, who immediately put Tonbridge on the back foot. Multiple phases were led by scrum-half Bex Lovenbury, who took her side deep into Tonbridge territory. The ball went wide and found second-row replacement Caz Reid, who smashed through four defenders to put Worthing ahead.
Sandford’s conversion took Worthing into a 12-5 lead but Tonbridge responded well for an unconverted try.
With 15 minutes remaining and Worthing just two points ahead, the visitors went on the attack as they looked for another try to seal the win.
An injury broke the flow of play with just minutes to go. Play resumed with Worthing in possession until Tonbridge managed to steal the ball and with Worthing unable to organise their defence quickly, the home side scored in the last minute to take the win.
Worthing head coach Andy Duckworth said: “I am totally gutted for the ladies to lose this game in the final minute after they worked so hard to be in the lead. This is the best rugby we’ve played all season and every single player put in an excellent performance.
“This is an occasion where you know you simply lost to a better team and not because you could have done better yourselves. The ladies should be proud of such a fantastic effort and we look forward to our next league fixture in a fortnight.”
Worthing host New Ash Green in their next match on December 13.
Anyone interested in playing rugby for Worthing, who also have a developing second team, can visit www.worthingrfc.com for more details.
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