By Tony Mann
Wimbledon 15 – 22 Sidcup
London League 1 South
Few teams will find Sidcup easy this season, with their big pack posing a real challenge in the set set scrum and driving mauls, but when a team is reduced to 13 men for a 10-minute period in each half, as Wimbledon were on Saturday, the challenge becomes very much tougher.
Two of the yellow cards appeared harsh and the other two totally unwarranted. But Wimbledon really didn’t help their cause by alienating the referee with repeated backchat. When will they learn?
Ironically it was during the first 13-player period, 20 minutes in, that Dons fought back to level-pegging, having conceded two early tries.
The first Sidcup try came when the visitors' pack powered over from a 5m scrum and the second minutes later when a defensive mix-up following a Sidcup kick-ahead gave the no.8 Cooper a clear run in - stand-off Ody converted.
With the game moving from end to end the remaining Wimbledon forwards attacked ferociously to produce good ball in Sidcup’s 22 and no.10 Neil Hallet jinked through for his team’s first try.
Then flanker Ed Lewis’s first touch on returning to the field stole a Sidcup lineout and the series of ensuing drives from the pack ended with no. 8 Rich Stewart touching down. Hallet’s conversion made it 12-12 at half time.
The second half was more of the same end-to-end rugby, with Dons' defence strong against the crash ball in the centre and their counter-attacks kept out by an equally strong Sidcup defence.
But as the game moved into the third quarter, one of the increasing number of penalties against Wimbledon - moved closer to the posts for senseless backchat - let Ody put his side three points ahead.
The yellow for Kemp with 15 minutes remaining, immediately followed by one for prop Steve May, proved too much for Wimbledon.
Having worn down the Sidcup pack to achieve parity up front, the numerical difference was decisive – and with four minutes remaining a Sidcup chip over the defence rebounded off a Wimbledon defender and bounced into the hands of the visitor’s wing Clark who strolled in under the posts. Ody’s simple conversion put Sidcup 22-12 ahead.
A minute later, Wimbledon had worked their way upfield again and earned a penalty. Wisely, with just seconds remaining, they opted for three points from Hallet to earn a losing bonus point.
Wimbledon travel to Old Colfeians next weekend.