Gravesend hold on for win in local derby
Two late tries from Old Gravesendians rescue losing bonus point for the visitors
On a week where the Swans did not have a league fixture, the Gannets, as a result of a number of injuries and absences within the squad, were thankful to be supported by a number of regulars from Gravesends fifth team for their match against Old Gravesendians. Consequently the home side were feeling happy to make kick off with a squad of 19 willing and able Gravesend players, as well as Dan Grant's uncles looking for a match on the sideline. Less fortunate was the realisation that the squad of 20 that Old G's had notified us would be in attendance earlier in the week had materialised as a squad of 16, meaning that one of the Gravesend squad would not be able to get their fix of rugby on a Saturday afternoon. Credit must go at this point to Wes Culmer for his support for the side throughout the match despite not being able to make it onto the park. Moments before kick off Dan Grant's uncles also agreed to step in for the opposition should they be needed to - perhaps even more eager for the chance to run at their nephew rather than they were to play alongside him!
The game began with the Old G's fly half sending his kick off too short and allowing Gravesend to demonstrate the strength of their forward pack in the game's first scrum. Good, quick phase play and hard running saw Old G's lose a player to injury within the opening phases and saw Gravesend make progress into the opposition 22. From a tap penalty move Gravesend then scored the game's opening try, which Perri Gallacher converted.
A series of penalties awarded against Gravesend for a number of infringements then gave Old G's the chance to cut the gap back to 4 points with a successfully taken penalty kick.
The remainder of the first half followed a similar pattern with Gravesend making good ground and scoring from another tap penalty through BRIAN WILLIAMS, before a number of penalty decisions were given against the home side costing them the ground that they were earning from their attacking play. Also of note is the scrum awarded against Dan Bromley part way through the first half. For a reason known only to himself Dan attempted to call a mark when fielding a kick around the halfway line; for a reason similarly unclear the ref decided that this lack of knowledge of the laws of the game warranted a scrum to the opposition.
The last 5 minutes of the first half saw Old Gravesendians camped within the home side's 22 but the Gannets stood firm with a defensive display as impressive as many had seen. Half time duly arrived with the score 14-3.
Gravesend earned themselves a penalty just outside the opposition 22 shortly after the game restarted. Despite missing the first attempt Perri was able to reprieve himself when the penalty was retaken after the opposition attempted to charge down the place kick.
Further good territory for the home side followed and a strong 5 metre scrum saw BRIAN WILLIAMS fall on the ball over line to score his second try.
Seemingly from this point on the home side decided to make things harder for themselves as they lost the control and the defensive commitment that had served them well in the opening hour of the match. Strong running from Dan Grant's uncle and the outside centre created chances for the visitors to get in behind the defence and saw them run in the first of their two tries. From the restart further strong running from the number 8 saw the visitors return to the home side's 22 and a few phases later secure another try.
Fortunately for the home side there was not enough time left for any further scores and they held on for the win, but the warning needs to be taken that on another weekend the missed tackles that littered the final 20 minutes of this match could cost us the match. As it was Old Gravesendians secured themselves a losing bonus point, thanks in part to their borrowed Australians, to see both sides from Gravesend level on points after the first round of matches in the league.
The first of the Gannets return fixtures is a visit by New Ash Green next week where hopefully a stronger defence effort will see the side overturn their defeat from the first weekend of the season.