WESTCLIFF ran table-topping Tonbridge Juddians close during a hard-fought National Two South clash.

Tonbridge triumphed 19-12 at the Gables to boost their promotion claims.

But Westcliff manager Rick Compton was pleased by his side’s spirited display and felt they could have picked up more than just a solitary losing bonus point.

“It was a useful point in the battle to retain National Two status but less than we might have got if one or two key moments had fallen one way rather than the other,” said Compton.

“Lingering on what might have beens isn’t our way though and there are other positives to take from the game too.

“The conditions were not great but the game was compelling and intense with moments of quality from both sides.

“The effort and commitment was spot on throughout, from minute one to 80.

“More performances like this will bring reward in the weeks to come and help us achieve our objective.”

The visitors had the wind at their back for the first half, but Westcliff defied the elements to force their way deep into the Tonbridge half from the kick-off.

Retaining the ball well, they patiently probed the defensive line moving right, then left, then back again before a well weighted and directed grubber kick from Joe Ford was collected by Myles Bean, who scored under the posts after just three minutes.

Tonbridge replied with two tries of their own to lead 12-7 at the break but the second half was equally intense, with Westcliff enjoying more possession and field position than the first.

However, Tonbridge played the conditions well and extended their lead with another well-taken try.

With 25 minutes left, Westcliff were 19-7 down and needed a response.

But, before they were able to they first had to withstand considerable pressure and spent several minutes doing just that.

The defensive efforts eventually forced a turnover and a kick in behind was chased down by acting skipper Greg Bannister, who scored in the corner before also being denied by a lunging tackle late on.

Westcliff remain nine points above the National Two South relegation zone.

Westcliff: Reed, Bannister, Campey, Jones, Bean, J Ford, Spivey, Dellas, Morrant, Binneman, Stol, Scogings, Reynolds, Webber, Smith.

Replacements: Hopkins, Lynch, Barrett, T Ford & Bolton