Thurrock steal late win during neck and neck clash with Gravesend
By James Gardiner
Gravesend were hosts to Thurrock on Saturday in a very close encounter and a much-improved performance since last week’s meeting with Medway.
Last week was nothing more than a learning curve and Gravesend knew that they had to put on a performance to be proud of as they ran out for their second game of the season. With everyone in position and their game faces on, the G’s were ready for kick off.
The first team got off to a solid start and the visitors found themselves under pressure early on in the match. With only two minutes played, Gravesend were in control and forced a scrum on their opponents’ five-metre line. This early attack led to a penalty which saw the hosts up 3-0 after Rhys Betts met the ball with his boot. Thurrock were unable to pose a threat during the first quarter of the game and a lot of their attacking play was shut down by the solid defence of Gravesend. The home forwards were dominant in areas of the pitch that made it difficult for their opponents to create any chances. This was proven when Cameron Wilkins made a good steal in the air off of a Thurrock lineout. During the later stages of the first quarter, Gravesend’s pack was dominant in the scrum and from that, they forced another penalty. Betts added another three making it 6-0. The visitors responded with three points of their own after they were awarded a penalty near the half hour mark. Both teams exchanged yellow cards after a lack of discipline but no further scores were added and the first half ended 6-3.
Thurrock got off to a bad start in the second half after their winger Jake Barrand was sent to the sin bin for a dangerous tackle. However, much of Gravesend’s first half dominance was lost after Thurrock’s winger Nathan Farrell crossed over the white wash. The try was unconverted but the visitors were in the lead for the first time as the score stood at 6-8. The away team later added to their lead with a penalty making it 6-11. The home supporters were given some hope during the last quarter of the game after Gravesend displayed more dominance in the forward pack. Matt Hewitt won the turnover for the G’s which allowed them to press on their opponents. The backs were then given some space to work with but it was Wilkins who got over the line to level the score 11-11. The conversion was charged down from in front of the posts leaving it 11 points apiece with just under ten minutes left. Thurrock won themselves a late penalty and found another lead at 11-14. There was plenty of attacking ball from G’s during the end of the game but Thurrock defended well and held on to their late lead as the game finished 11-14.
Gravesend’s effort was described as “close but no cigar” as the assistant coach Dan Buckland reflected on his side’s improved performance. He said: “There was a lot more heart in it today but sadly we didn’t have enough brain.” He added: “We need to be making sure we don’t make so many simple errors.”
The forwards played a key role in most of Gravesend’s attack and Buckland pointed out that “once again our forwards have been extremely dominant both in the driving maul and in a lot of the scrummaging as well.”
Looking ahead to next week’s away fixture against Chobham, the assistant coach noted that his team needs to train more in order to get better results. “It all comes down to more training because we’ve got such a young squad at the moment.”
There are definitely plenty of positives that Gravesend can take away from Saturday and Buckland finished off by admitting that he is “pleased overall with where we’ve come this week but we’ve definitely got a long way to go.”