A winable game that slipped away
A session of basic tackling techniques is required if Gss are to turn the lost games into bonus winning performances.
Gravesend have offered so much more going forward this season, with some great periods of attacking play that is enabling them to score tries. The disappointment of their performance comes from the number of missed tackles which has now cost them four defeats so far this season.
Even with the forced changes that saw Gss take to the field without a regular fly-half, Gss still looked comfortable with the amount of good possession that came from a steady platform set by the forwards.
A lost ball when going forward, should have been of no consequence as there was ample cover on the right, but the reluctance to put the tackle in by more than one player, allowed Havant's skipper Joel Knight to show a clean pair of heels to the home defence as he raced round to touch down between the posts.
Having missed an earlier penalty chance, he made no mistake with adding the conversion for 0-7 after twelve minutes played.
This was possibly turning into the best senior game of rugby seen at Rectory Field this season, as both XVs fought hard for their possession while both back rows closed many chances down with matched performances in the middle of the park.
Gss had been pressing for a score of their own, but errors saw their visitors, Havant, clear their line as Gss infringed at the vital moment.
Eventually the pressure paid off when the ball was first taken down the wide left, before being recycled several time in field and eventually moved out to the right where Temi Okenla
took the pass and made his own space to cut through the defence and touch down midway from the uprights.
Full-back Rhys Betts
struck the ball well from the tee to level the scores 7-7 at the end of the first quarter, two minutes later a long range penalty kick fell just short.
With the scores level, this is how it looked to be going as the clock ran down for half-time, but it was not to be as Havant's speedy young wing-three-quarter, Jerome Rudder had other thoughts, and he eluded the defence as no tackles
went in, to score in the corner. The missed conversion saw the Gss go in at the break 7-12 in arrears.
The early exchanges were just tipping in favour of Gss, with both lines winning their own ball , and both back rows getting to the breakdown in the middle at pace.
Gss struck back after fifteen minutes after they had again moved the ball both ways across the field, and when the ball reached Tom Goss
, his angle and pace brought him across to link with Temi Okenla
, who jinked through the cover to score his second of the afternoon.
again successful with the conversion to put Gss in front and no more than they deserved at 14-12. This was short lived as Havant getting back to the home twenty-two, were gifted a penalty in front of the posts, which Knight duly converted into three points to go back in front 14-15.
This was still the entertaining game as the first forty minutes, well officiated by Kent Society referee Mark Hayward, and was being watched by the one hundred and forty plus diners who had been at the Captain's Day lunch and boosted by an equal number of regular spectators, that were being treated by some outstanding play from both teams.
Into the last quarter and with Gss defending their line, Charlie Cutting
was judged to have offended and shown the yellow card, but the line was kept secure.
Play had moved down to the home ten metre line, when a lack of cover from Gss allowed centre, Ben Brieley to ghost through unopposed to score under the cross bar. Knight was on hand to add the conversion and Havant had stretched their advantage to 14 22.
One of the better aspects of Gss this season is that they do play a full eighty minute game, while continuing to look for the next score.
A kick to the corner and line-out on the five metre line saw Gss catch and drive, but they were stopped when visiting flanker, Nathan Bellman entered from the side to collapse the maul, seeing yellow for the next ten minutes.
A second driven line-out from the resulting penalty, and this time success came as GLEN RADEMAN
beat the defence to score just inside the corner flag. The conversion from the boot of Rhys Betts
saw the scores narrow to 21-22.
Gravesend's forwards to a man all again put in big performances that set the platform and secure the possession for their three-quarters, which no doubt soon will be put to good use.
Seven minutes remaining and it was again the speedy Rudder who cut through Gss backs untouched to score in the middle of the uprights, Knight added the extras to edge away from Gss losing bonus point, 21-29.
With Cutting back on the park for the last five minutes and Gss back to full strength, it looked a formality that they would add more points of their own. Concerted efforts inside the visitors twenty two, was only stopped by some resolute defending from Havant.
Several pick and drives later and scrum half Brad Smith crossed the whitewash to touch the ball down, only to be judged to have knocked on at the base, disappointment all round, but Gss still didn't let go as they fought hard to secure at least a losing bonus or even another for fourth try.
Unfortunately this was not to come and when the whistle went for the eighty minutes, both teams were applauded for their much appreciated entertainment of the afternoon.
Next week a rest day from the league, but Gss may have to fulfil a Kent Cup game away to Westcombe Park.