SIDCUP 35 PTS HAYWARDS HEATH 18 PTS
Sidcup have played Haywards Heath on and off in the leagues over the years and have apparently won a game against them, although your Correspondent has no recollection of the victory. Certainly the last time Haywards Heath visited Crescent Farm they put in an exceptionally good performance and were likely to be attractive post-lunch fare for the assembled mass of past players and Vice-Presidents, some of whom did actually manage to watch some of the game.
Condidtion were very different to those of the narrow defeat at league leaders, Chichester, the previous weekend. There was a distinctly autumnal feel with a chilly wind bringing periodic squalls. If the wind favoured either side in the first half then it was probably Sidcup who began impressively. Richard Clarke
nearly manufactured a try but his pass was knocked down but within five minutes, Sidcup were in the lead as, following the award of a free-kick ten metres out, Julian Poff
took a quick tap and barged over; Hardy converted.
Sidcup continued to impress. Good kicking by Michael Ubee and running by Hardy, Ubee and Jamie Cutler
kept the pressure on the visitors and Sidcup seemed to have the Haywards Heath scrum in a bit of trouble but they were unable to turn attacking positions into points. After twenty minutes, a forty yard break by Al Harle took play into the Sidcup twenty two where the defenders conceded a penalty at a ruck which Robert Jackson kicked. Two minutes later an identical break by Mark Lewis led to a ruck in the same place and another penalty by Jackson.
It wasn’t long before Sidcup hit back. From a scrum in their twenty two, Nick Gilbert
picked up, the ball reached Hardy who made a lot of ground and kicked ahead. Although the bounce of the ball eluded the chasing Josh Harrison
, it fell into Poff’s hands and he touched down in the corner with referee Andrea Ttofa confirming the try with the visiting touch judge. Hardy converted with an outstanding kick. With half time approaching, another long kick by Ubee forced a line out deep in the Haywards Heath twenty two. The defender took a quick throw which Steven Evans intercepted and nearly touched down. However his score was only postponed as he was the player holding the ball as a driving maul reached the line. Hardy added the conversion.
Sidcup had enjoyed the better first half. The line-outs had been excellent, the scrums had generally gone well and the kickers had been able to move them into offensive positions. It seemed likely that an early score in the second half would put the match out of sight. Unfortunately Haywards Heath had other ideas and for the next thirty minutes it looked as though they could fashion victory. They monopolised possession, retained the ball, made life difficult for Sidcup at the breakdown and forced a stream of penalties.Despite the arrival of the cavalry in the form of Richard Day for Clarke (Cutler moving to scrum half) and Donal Nevin
for Evans, Haywards Heath reduced the deficit to three points through tries by centres Greg Jackson and Joe Hoare one of which was converted by Robert Jackson.
Sidcup were looking decidedly shakey, Hardy missed a penalty he would normally have kicked with his eyes closed but Callum Thomson
provided a change in the dynamic of the game by charging down a kick, following up and forcing a ruck on the defending line. Although Sidcup conceded a penalty at the ruck, they were out of their own half and started to influence the game a bit more. Tom Wicks
replaced Jon Cosh
to refresh to pack. Entering injury time, a typically strong run by Colin Cooper
took play to the Haywards Heath twenty two and, from the ruck the ball was passed to Day. Although there didn’t seem to be much room to work with, he managed to sprint down the line and touch down in the corner. Another excellent Hardy kick extended the lead. Sidcup returned to the attack. Another ruck steal by Poff, Cutler fed Day