Gravesend meet Medway as the New Season Commences
As the summer has come to an end and autumn approaches, that only means one thing for Gravesend Rugby Club… the first game of the season, writes James Gardiner
The first team hosted Medway on Saturday as they looked to get their season off to a solid start in the RFU London South One league. ]The sun was shining, the BBQ blazing and the beers were flowing on what was (as the Moles would put it) a glorious day for rugby. Medway ran out followed by Gravesend who lined up next to their opponents as the club fell silent for a minute to respect the memory of John Cubitt who sadly passed away last month. Then it was down to business as Medway kicked off the new season.
It wasn’t the start the G’s were hoping for as Medway piled on the pressure shortly after kick off and forced an early penalty. A quick tap and go saw Medway attacking towards the five- metre line as the ball found the hands of the centre Anthony Clement who drew first blood for the visitors. This was followed by a conversion and penalty a few moments later by number 19 Daniel Harvey who put Medway 0-10 up after 10 minutes.
Gravesend responded positively with a solid attack which forced a penalty near their opponent’s five-metre line but unfortunately for the hosts the ball was turned over and Medway were on the move again. The forwards were working hard for the G’s and created some excellent turnovers which made it difficult for the visitors to get the ball moving forward. However, the attack from each turnover was dismissed by Medway who displayed a solid defence in the first quarter.
As the end of the first quarter approached, Medway found themselves crossing over the line twice in quick succession to make the score 0-22 with one missed conversion by Harvey. This didn’t faze the home team at all as they got the ball moving quickly through the backs and out wide to winger Temi Okenla who got away fast but fell short only metres away from the try line. It wasn’t long after that Gravesend found the ball again with some beautifully executed phases of play and quick interchanging passes between the forwards and backs. As they neared the try line it was fullback Rhys Betts who crossed over and kept the home supporters spirits up. On this occasion, the try was left unconverted making it 5-22.
Shortly after their first try, Gravesend scored another as the forwards put some excellent work in at the turnover and got it out to Temi who found a gap and sprinted all the way from just over his own 10-metre line. Converting his own try, the winger made it 12-22. Just as it was looking like a comeback for the hosts, Medway responded to the threat from G’s, scoring two tries (one unconverted) before half time which made it 12-34 at the break.
The second half was a completely different story for Gravesend who played as if the score was 0-0. The G’s won a penalty near their opponent’s five-metre line and confidently went for touch which led to a dominant driving maul and a try by number eight Mark Klus. The try was unconverted making it 17-34.
Gravesend’s defence was solid in the second half, stopping Medway from making any dangerous attacks. The hosts had more chances to score from the driving maul but were held up on a couple of occasions. The only downside was a lack of discipline later on in the game which gave Medway the opportunity to keep the scoreboard ticking as Harvey kicked over two penalties making the final score 17-40.
Gravesend’s prop Charlie Cutting reflected on the first game of the season. He said: “The first half was very difficult but in the second half we started to play more how we wanted to play the game which is very pleasing.”
“Physically we stepped it up in the second half and started to compete better and the set piece went far better in the second half.”
Ahead of next week’s home fixture against Thurrock, Cutting admitted that his side “will be better and more physical next week and we’ll develop as it goes on.”