Guildford suffered a second straight defeat by a single score on Saturday, going down 25-31 to a strong Sidcup side at their Broadwater home. Guildford fielded a strong side, despite a couple of late changes when Luke Rust became a father during the week and player/coach Pete Hodgekinson dropped out of the starting line-up after he failed a fitness test on the morning before the game and were wary of the threat Sidcup provided in the front row.
The game started at a furious pace with Guildford playing uphill, away from the road. The home side drew first blood with the forwards driving over after a penalty was kicked to the corner for a line out, Nick Brown the one the claim the score which went unconverted. Sidcup responded in kind, choosing to move the ball wide from their own attacking line out which saw their full back go over in the near corner to draw the scores level at 5-5. Guildford responded quickly. From a lineout on the opponent’s 10 metre line the ball was spun into the midfield where a clever set of dummy runners created a big hole for winger Tom Jeffery coming off the blind side. Jeffrey cut through the defence and rounded the full back to score under the posts, Kyle Brown converting to make it 12-5. Sidcup attached by applying considerable pressure in the set piece, an area in which the home side struggled for most of the game and were able to convert this pressure into territory, which after a succession of short drives saw them spin the ball out right and put their winger over in the corner to again level the scores. The visitors added a penalty and after the restart, second row Nick Brown burst away from a ruck on the half way and showed considerable pace to round would be defenders for a breakaway score. After the restart Sidcup were able to win another scrum penalty and from the short range lineout executed a back peel, which saw their number 8 crash over for a converted score. Guildford then added a penalty through Kyle Brown to send the sides in level, 20-20 at half time.
The second half saw both sides struggle to gain control of the game with individual errors and indiscipline preventing either team from generating real momentum. Sidcup struck first in the second half through a penalty and Guildford responded by driving over a maul from another short-range lineout to take the 25-23, the red-scrum cap of Tom Hickey identifying the scorer beneath a pile of bodies. With 10 minutes left to go and the scrums become a lottery, Guildford knew their lead was tenuous and so it proved when a Sidcup kicked a further penalty to take the lead 25-26. The visitors were able to add an unconverted score out wide on the whistle to give a final score line of 26-31. Guildford will be frustrated by the loss, coming close in a game where they were dominated in the set piece and have to console themselves with two losing bonus points. Coach Dave Ward’s squad head to Hertford in Saturday for a game which they now need to win to keep their early season on track.