Rugby: Sobering defeat for Tunbridge Wells but rivals also lose as race hots up

    Sidcup 39 Tunbridge Wells 23

    BACK TO FRONT Nick Doherty (left) bursts through Sidcup’s defensive lines

    TUNBRIDGE WELLS continued their quest for a play-off place in the league by visiting Sidcup, who are 13 points clear at the top of London One South.

    Wells started the game in third place, four points behind Havant but facing perhaps their biggest task of the second half of the season.

    The first half-hour belonged to the visitors as Nick Doherty and Jake Jones got outside the defence on the left to score.

    Wells’ backs, particularly the centre combination of Dylan Barkas and Fionn McLaughlin, displayed an accuracy of pass and quickness of thought

    But an undefeated side like Sidcup were bound to fight back hard. As half-time approached they turned the screw to gain territory and position.

    From a penalty to the corner Ben Ibrahim spotted the gap and dashed through it to level the scores 13-13 at the break.

    Sidcup increased the pace in the second half, forcing Wells into some inaccurate kicking and an inability to retain possession.

    Skipper Lee Campion left the field after a late tackle had left him shaken and Jake Thompson also departed with a head injury.

    They conceded another Ibrahim try but Wells remained within a score.

    Then Ollie Lewis-Donaldson, who came on for Campion, was adjudged to have committed a head high tackle on the Sidcup winger Louis Keely and was yellow-carded on 65 minutes.

    Sidcup exploited the deficiency with three tries in 10 minutes, all of which were picked up by the backs overlapping the understaffed defence.

    Wells were not done yet and the pack drove prop Nick Blacklock over for a rolling maul try before Jones scored his second. It was the first try bonus by a visiting side at Crescent Farm this season.

    The disappointment of the defeat was, however, short-lived as word came through that Havant had lost to Chiswick and had not earned a bonus point. So the gap to the second-place play-off slot in London One South has now narrowed to three points.