Guildford travelled to Sidcup on Saturday with a makeshift backline but despite scoring three tries, came away empty handed in their first outing of the New Year. Due to some lingering injuries, illness and unavailability, Dave Ward was forced to utilise all the resources available to him with Matt Shea starting at scrum half for his first game for several seasons, Sam Purvis and James Denning on the wings and young Rob Voller stepping in to the outside centre birth. The pack showed some more familiar faces however and were joined by Courtney Raymond making a welcome return from injury on the blind side and Ross Crabtree starting in the front row.
In a lively and competitive game, the home side opened their account with a pair of penalties, the first from a scrum infringement and the second for a hand in the ruck to make the score line 6-0 on the twenty minute mark. After winning a penalty of their own, Guildford kicked to the corner and with the home side unable to relieve a period of pressure, the visitors eventually drove over from an short lineout with Nick Brown touching down for an unconverted try, 6-5.
Sidcup responded with two more penalties from the excellent fly half to open up a 7 point gap before scoring their first try on the 35 minute mark. Stealing a Guildford lineout, Sidcup spun the ball into midfield for their fly half, positioned there defensively, to cross kick and have the ball bounce perfectly into the arms of their right-winger running at full speed for a remarkable converted try. With the half winding down, Sidcup broke up field from a scrum in their 22 then spun the ball to the near touchline for a second dramatic try to reach the half way mark with the home side up 24-5.
Guildford started the second half with a mountain to climb and skipper Joe Garner took the lead of the back of a number of strong drives, going over from short between the posts, Kyle Brown converting 24-12. After the restart, the home gathered possession and after a number of phases the visitors ran out of defenders on the near side allowing the Sidcup full back to cross unchallenged, 29-12. To their credit, Guildford continued to battle but faced a mountain to climb. After working their way into the opposition half and pushing the ball out wide, Rob Voller was able to gather a clever grubber kick and score a third try 29-19, echoing his father Adrian, a first team stalwart in years previous. This was to be the closest Guildford got, with the home side adding two more tries in the dying minutes of the game to close the game out at 41-19 and leave Guildford 9th in the league.
Guildford host Hertford this weekend and with a number of regulars returning, will look to emulate their victory against this opposition earlier in the season. In this incredibly tough league, every point will count and Dave Ward’s team will have to work hard this week in preparation.