Tunbridge Wells 17 Sidcup 22
BOTH sets of supporters eagerly awaited the top-of-the-table clash between Tunbridge Wells and Sidcup in London One South despite monsoon conditions at St Marks.
It was the visitors who were dominant for the majority of the first half. They ruled in the line-out, set scrum and the loose, and racked up a lead of 10 points through a well-taken rolling maul try and conversion after 11 minutes.
This was followed by a penalty goal for Sidcup after 25 -minutes – which was hugely significant to the course of the game because it was awarded for a dangerous high tackle.
As a result, the offending player, Josh Crickmay, received a red card and took no further part. Wells were now up against it having been reduced to 14 men in a tight game.
Strangely, this stirred a quiet Tunbridge Wells into a far more dominant display and they started to achieve parity and beyond in the loose, tighten up their defence and show great spirit. They -managed to notch 17 points in the next 30 minutes despite being a man down.
First Nick Doherty, returning after injury, scored under the posts after great footwork on 29 minutes, with Frank Reynolds converting to draw closer at 7-10. The score remained the same until half-time after some valiant defence from Wells and some penetrative break-outs.
Then early in the second half, Wells fell farther behind to a well-taken try from Sidcup No 6 Billy Williams, but this did not deter the home side as they occupied Sidcup’s territory and Reynolds calmly kicked a penalty for a high tackle to make the scores 10-15 in Sidcup’s favour.
Wells continued to attack and Alex -Maynard, also returning from injury, latched on to a brilliant grubber kick from the scrum-half Chas Spence to score a try and level the scores. Reynolds’ accurate boot again notched the conversion for Tunbridge to snatch the lead at 17-15.
However, despite some strong defence and -losing another man when uncontested scrums were introduced after an injury to Kyle McGarvie, Wells were -unable to hang on.
Deep into injury time, Sidcup struck with a fine midfield try and conversion to push the game beyond a valiant Wells, who had to reflect on their discipline and their inability in the end to close a game out when they were in front.
Coach Matt Cook said afterwards: “There was a real mix of emotions over this game – we had lost Josh Crickmay -after just 20 -minutes, which didn’t help.
“In the second half the team played brilliantly, with a lot more spirit and precision, but -Sidcup won it in the last minute. Our young squad are learning that you have to close games out and not lapse in concentration.
“But the team did well against the league -leaders and we have shown the squad has the attributes to do well.”