Away win for Gannets to get first league victory under their belts
12 tries shared between two teams on large main pitch at Aylesford made for entertaining game of rugby
After struggling again to gather enough players in the early part of the week the Gannets were pleased to see the return of Mike Woodbine
, Craig Duvana
, Harry Redsell
and Martin Riley
at Aylesford after their absence from the side for various reasons. It was also welcome to see first games for Gravesend's fourth team for Ringo at tighthead prop, Josh Sclanders at 9/wing and Dean on the wing before his shift into the centre.
The rest of the side was made up from more regular Gannets with Dan Grant having his occasional relocation to centre, Ben Baker
and Gareth Williams forming the starting half back pairing, Steve Wootton and Perri Gallacher
completing the backs and Mayhem, Paddy, Garrick, Sam and Jamie completing the pack.
Once the side had been pulled together the Gravesend side gathered their 15 players for kick off and sent the ball down towards the opposition 22. The ball was stolen in the first ruck by one of the Gravesend forwards and the visitors advanced into the opposition 22. A couple of phases later and Dean scored his first try in Black & White, which was converted by Perri. An uncharacteristically fast start by Gravesend suggested the match might be there for the taking but to Aylesford's credit they fought back quickly with their strong running backline, getting over for a couple of quick tries in response.
After more phase play Gravesend found themselves with a penalty advantage in front of the Aylesford posts. Ignoring the overlap out wide, fly half Ben Baker
tried for 3 points with a drop kick. The drop kick was appalling but fortunately Paddy remained alert to the ball staying in play to dive on the squirming ball for a try. Perri converted to bring the scores back to level.
More space between Ben Baker
in the 10 position and the forwards saw the home side cross for another try and retake the lead before Steve Wootton crossed the line for his first try of the match following a nice blindside move by the Gravesend backline to bring the score to 21-19. A further try by Ringo just before half time only left time for Dan Grant to slip on the wet floor in the rain and injure his knee.
A reshuffle at half time in the backs saw Garrick channel his inner Jack Nowell for a spell on the wing.
Gravesend picked up where they left off at the beginning of the second half to open up a lead with a well rehearsed move between Josh and Ringo at the base of the ruck taking the score to 31-21 with the conversion. Rather than pushing on Gravesend again allowed Aylesford back into the match as they scored another converted try. Continued pressure from Aylesford saw them spending a lot of time in the Gravesend 22 looking to retake the lead and secure the potentially decisive score. To the credit of the whole pack, which was dominant all afternoon -especially in the scrum, Gravesend were able to turn the ball over and clear their lines. A few phases later saw Steve Wootton and Dean add their respective second tries, both converted by Perri before the fullback scored his own try with a run from our half which he also converted before the final whistle was blown to complete his personal 17 point haul.
Credit must go to Aylesford for a good spirited, competitive match and hopefully they will not be too downhearted as they were in with a chance of winning right up until the visitors secured three quick tries at the end. We will look forward to the return fixture as hard fought matches like this are what this league should be made up of.
On the Gravesend side there were too many strong performances to name any individual as a standout player so I will just repeat the thanks I gave to the 17 guys that turned up at the end of the game for putting in a performance and getting the win.
After three away games to begin the season, the Gannets look forward now to the visit of Maidstone next week for their first home league match.