Combe let it slip as Sidcup escape to victory.
Westcombe Park 23-32 Sidcup
Combe had a fairly firm grip on the game, had nudged ahead and had old rivals under the cosh, but failed to get points on the board and allowed the visitors to finish with a killer flourish.
It has been a while since Combe have hosted local rivals in a league game, and this fixture would also double as their Kent Cup first round tie. A lot riding on it. A good crowd in. A big occasion for Combe’s mascot Oliver Luscombe leading the team on with captain Joe Bonner. ‘Sunny intervals and showers’, said the forecast. They were right.
The first quarter was littered with penalty awards, mostly for sins at the breakdown as both sides were eager to compete. Sidcup were first on the scoreboard with Joshua Twyford slotting over for 0-3, but James Cameron levelled for Combe soon after. Sidcup showed they could be lively and run with the ball but were undone by final passes going forward. Combe had a line-out ten yards from the Sidcup line. The position had been set up by an earlier drive from a line-out on half-way, which made a good thirty yards at some speed. The throw-in bobbled about, skipper Joe Bonner gathered the rebound and cruised in for the game’s first try. James Cameron added the conversion. Combe 10-3 up. Sidcup responded and came close but Lachlan Jackson intercepted and ran away from danger. Only a few minutes left before the break. Time for Sidcup to add a penalty. Then stripping the ball from Combe under pressure in their own twenty-two, Sidcup countered, with Ben Ibrahim showing a clean pair of heels down the right touchline, over and round to the posts. Try converted. The half is not yet over. From a relieving penalty kick in their own half, the bounce of the ball beats Combe’s cover and the visitor’s hooker, Charlie Hopkins on the follow-up gathers and dives over in the corner. Try converted.10-20. Half time.
As was the case last week, Combe had complete control at the scrum, they had plenty of possession, but could not break down the opposition defence. From the re-start James Cameron had a couple of shots at goal. The second went over. 13-20. Combe were shoving Sidcup all over the place, so more penalties, and in due course yellow cards for the Sidcup front row. This meant uncontested scrums and Sidcup down to twelve. During this period Joe Bonner was driven over for his second try, and Matt Holmes was put in at the corner by Alex Campbell, but that was all. Combe now led 23-20, with less than ten minutes to go but as soon as Sidcup were back to their full complement, they found new energy and momentum, despite the heavy rain. They almost took advantage of an overlap, but were bundled out in the right corner. From the ensuing scrum, number 8 pick-up, close support, score near the posts. Try converted. 23-27. Still time on the clock, and time for another. From a line-out on Combe’s twenty-two, quick front ball, interpassing, down the tramlines, and second row Jack Dutton scores to cement the win. Bonus point to Sidcup, bonus point for Combe denied. Sidcup rode their luck and took their chances.
Combe had let it slip.
Next week Combe are away to league newcomers Towcestrians, who will also be looking for their first win of the campaign. Combe are next at home on 23rd September when they entertain Westcliff.
Westcombe Park XV: J. Livett; B. Saffery, D. Bonner, S. Pursell, J. Kenward; J. Cameron, M. Holmes; J. Stanford, J. Bonner, J. Forsyth, T. Calohard, T. Christopher, C. O’Sullivan, L. Covington, A. Campbell.
Bench: J. Simmons, D. Fox, L. Jackson.
Match reporter - Bruce Mackenzie.