Gannets score 4 tries but end up on losing side against physical Gillingham side
Following the withdrawal of Jon Sargent (theatre) and Dan Beazer (held hostage at work) on the morning of the match the Gannets still managed to travel to Gillingham with a squad of 17 players and a strong looking side.
An early try by Gillingham through their strong forwards and injuries to Rich Mayhew and ralph walpole saw the Gannets challenged by the unusual proposition of facing a side where they did not have the upper hand in the forwards. Strong performances from a number of players around the park however ensured that Gravesend were never out of contention throughout the match.
Following the opposition's first try the Gannets were able to earn a scrum following a fumble by the home side fullback fielding a grubber kick near his own line. From the subsequent scrum Jamie Feighery linked up well with scrum half Ben Baker to see the apparently massive scrum half tumble over the opposition winger for a try. The conversion was missed to leave the score at 7-5 after the opening exchanges. It was around this point that Mayhem and Ralph left the field.
Gillingham were then able to follow up with a second try to extend their lead before Perri Gallacher showed his continued improvement to scoop up a loose midfield pass and evade the defence to score under the posts. One further Gillingham score before half time saw the score at 15-12 at the interval.
Both sides traded two further tries with the Gannets scores coming from Matt Abbott and Ben Baker with one converted before Craig Duvana saw yellow on behalf of the team for a series of penalties.
With the score at 25-24 and with an extra man Gillingham ran in a further two tries against the tiring visitors, no doubt aided by their unauthorised additional replacements allowing them to refresh a third of their side in the second half while their opponents had been forced to make their only possible changes early on.
Despite the defeat and the arguable lack of respect for their opponents and the league rules shown by the host side in not mentioning at any point their expanded matchday squad, there were plenty of positives for the Gannets to take from the game. The commitment shown by the side in fronting up to a physical opponent for 80 minutes and the drive required to score 4 tries in defeat are both a testament to the spirit within the side. The on pitch battle was also a credit to both sides with strong ball carrying and committed defence a feature of the play from both sides on the day.
*this report has been written a few weeks after the match so there may well be details missing!
Quilter Kids First Champions winner – November: Hinckley RFC