Guildford win but ‘still have work to do’
GUILDFORD immediately applied pressure, pressing deep into the Saxons 22 and forcing the hosts to quickly gather their scramble defence, writes John Hines.
The visitors were awarded a kickable penalty two minutes in but fly-half Gareth Davies pushed the kick wide.
Minutes later, however, there was no respite as Guildford captain Joe Garner found himself in space for an almost unchallenged run to the line, crashing through winger Bert Radzevicius’ lastditch tackle.
Damp weather made conditions difficult with both teams making handling errors in the first half as theirpacks got the measure of each other in the scrums.
The Saxons’ set-piece continued to struggle, leading to testy scrummaging and mounting frustration.
An early shove in the scrum gave a free kick to Guildford, who took the opportunity quickly to find an open space. A foot race ensued between Radzevicius and Guildford’s Alex Jordan, with the latter edging ahead and dotting down in the near corner and Davies adding the extras.
The hosts were finally able to get on the board 25 minutes in, through a Tom Ramsey penalty after a high tackle. Ramsey added another three points minutes later from distance as Saxons clawed back some of the deficit and Guildford’s James Kirk was shown a yellow card.
Down to 14, preventing any further score was key but four minutes into the second half the visitors conceded another penalty to see the lead narrow to three points.
And ten minutes later Guildford, playing from their own half, had the ball ripped away in the tackle and Chris Shields smashed through and offloaded to George Griffiths who charged down the wing and found Saxons captain Ross O’Brien who touched down.
Falling behind was the spur Guildford needed and they responsded with a try three minutes later from Brad Smith and again three minutes on, from Ash Williams, leaving the Saxons trailing again.
At 26-14 Southend’s possession did not lead to points and their frustrations could have boiled over several times before the referee sent second rows from both sides – Franco Maggiolo and James Phillips – to the sin bin.
Guildford sealed the game by running in tries from Kirk and captain Joe Garner before Southend scored a late consolation.
“We made some changes to the line up through unavailablity and we were rewarded for our positive play,” said Guildford coach Dave Ward.
“We still have some work to do, particularly in our defence and some of the setpiece plays, but we take that result.
“The boys deserved it for their efforts.”
Captain Garner added: “There were periods where we let Southend take their game to us and we will have to work on that and our discilpline not to give away soft points.
“but we came here last season and did not get a result so I am pleased with the five points.”
Guildford meet newly promoted Sidcup at Broadwater on Saturday (ko 3pm).
Esher’s Liam Edwards, left, in action during his club’s 32-17 National League One victory at home to Rosslyn Park on Saturday