Cup woe as Extras fall at the final hurdle
Two late tries dashed Elthamians' hopes of a first ever Kent Cup triumph in a thrilling final at Footscray RFC on Sunday.
Sidcup 33 Old Elthamians 27
Elthamians’ bid to lift the Kent Cup for the first time ended in last gasp disappointment at Footscray RFC on Sunday.
In a thrilling finale to a close-fought final, local rivals Sidcup scored two tries in the final five minutes to snatch a memorable come-from-behind victory.
Winger Dan Thomas was Sidcup’s try-scoring hero at the death when he was driven over in the corner by his pack - and the majority of the backs - for the crucial score two minutes from time. It capped an outstanding second half display from the hard-working Sidcup forwards who laid the foundations for an impressive fightback after they found themselves 20-10 in arrears at the halfway point of an incident-packed final.
OEs only have themselves to blame as well for throwing away a commanding position with a succession of unforced errors and penalties in the second half which Sidcup were absolutely ruthless in punishing.
Played in a strong, swirling wind which made life difficult throughout for both sides, it was Elthamians who were given a dream start to the final when full-back Ali Neden intercepted a hopeful pass in midfield and raced unopposed 60 metres to score under the posts inside the first minute, Tom White converting.
Sidcup regrouped quickly and worked their way back into the game with a Josh Twyford penalty before flanker Steve Evans, who enjoyed an outstanding afternoon around the fringes of ruck and maul, forced his way over down the left for a try on 21 minutes after a concerted period of Sidcup pressure, Twyford converting.
Although there was little to separate the two sides in the opening half hour, it was Elthamians who ended the half strongly. They regained the lead with two Tom White penalties in quick succession before adding a second try on the stroke of half-time. From a scrum in the Sidcup 22, the ball was moved quickly to White and he sent a long miss-pass to winger Charlie Nagel who forced his way over wide on the left. White added a superb touchline conversion to send OEs in at half-time leading 20-10.
Their joy was short-lived however, as Sidcup cut the deficit to just three points with a try only three minutes after the restart.
Aggressive defence forced a loose pass in the OEs midfield and the Sidcup forwards were quick to capitalise, taking play into the OEs 22 with a series of forward drives before impressive second row Luke Coughlan barged over from close range.
Twyford converted and then added a penalty to level the scores shortly afterwards when OEs were penalised and reduced to 14 men – White shown a yellow card for deliberately infringing at a ruck after his side had made an almighty hash of clearing their lines.
Just when momentum appeared to have swung Sidcup’s way, 14-man Elthamians came roaring back with their best period of the half. From a driven lineout in the Sidcup 22, prop Elliot Roofe battered his way over from close range, Neden converting.
Leading 27-20 entering the final quarter and with the influential White back on the field, it was the Old Boys who appeared to be in the driving seat. Instead, the Sidcup pack took a firm stranglehold on proceedings they were never to relinquish.
With Coughlan, Jack Dutton and Sam Carmen prominent in the loose, Sidcup began to make in-roads in the OEs defence. Twyford cut the deficit to four points with his third penalty on 63 minutes and as the game entered the final 10 minutes it was Elthamians who were hanging on grimly to their lead, unable to secure enough possession to get out of their own half.
And with just five minutes remaining, a Sidcup lineout in the OEs 22 was driven over the try-line, hooker Charlie Hopkins emerging with the ball to give his a side a one-point lead.
The drama was not over. As the Sidcup pack swarmed again into the OEs 22, prop Stefan North became the second Elthamian to receive a yellow card when he was penalised for not releasing the tackler. From the resulting penalty, Twyford kicked to the corner and his pack did the rest, driving Thomas over from the lineout for the match-winning score.
Old Elthamians: Neden, Hotston, Harding, Emmerson, Nagel, T White, Parker, Roofe, Devine, North, Scorgie, Hosking, Munnelly, Ledger, Morgan. Subs: Petty, Pilditch, Garratt, Triana