After a couple of Swans/Gannets mash up games which resulted in wins for the boys in black and white,it was down to the serious business of the first league game of the season against a Cliffe side that grew,improved and ultimately avenged their defeat to the Gannets last season.A tough game was expected against their younger opponents.
A fast paced game was expected from the visitors and that was exactly what they gave right from the kickoff,moving the ball out wide at pace only to be thwarted by some sterling defensive work.The Gannets,however did have the edge in size up front even despite a more svelte Jamie Feighery taking his place in the second row and they were soon sticking it 'up the jumper' and punching holes in the Cliffe defence.An infringement in front of the posts offered Freddie Taylor the ideal opportunity to get his eye in and that's what he did,giving the hosts an early 3-0 advantage.
Cliffe weren't disheartened by this early setback and their youthful exuberance (remember that) soon had them back at the Gannets try line asking questions that the home defence mostly answered until their biiiig numero ocho bulldozed his way over in the corner,scattering defenders in his wake to touch down.Sod being in a moshpit with him in the rain at Download was all I could think...
A missed conversion made it 3-5 so the Gannets made up their mind to start concentrating on playing their strengths and this bought them two quick scores,firstly from Harry Burnett,making his debut after starring for the academy last season,who smashed his way over from the 5 to score,converted by Freddie and then Gary Curran or P.Addy to give him his hiphop name,who expertly dribbled the ball over from the back of a powerful driving scrum,again slotted by Freddie.
So at 17-5 up with 5 left to play it was all downhill until half,surely?Nah...some enterprising play in the loose from the Cliffe backs who to be fair,were a handful all day led to them scoring in the corner to reduce the defecit to 17-10 at the half.
Of course,the Gannets were blowing out of their arses at the half after all,several of the hosts team were old enough to be the grandparents of any one of the Cliffe team and the visitors could sense this,coming out of the blocks fast and keeping the pedal to the metal for much of the opening 15 minutes of the second period.It was ironic then that their next try stemmed from the first period of Gannets pressure.Attacking the 22 they were turned over and the ball moved quickly out to one of their slippery centres who turned Lloydy and others inside out and upside down to score in the corner.Much to everyone's surprise the conversion was nailed and it was 17 a piece.
Things then got a bit weird when Vid,who up until this point had ad a great game in defence both tackling and with the boot,went absolutely batshit crazy and left the field of play to 'calm down' or possibly watch the end of the first team game.Who knows.Anyway this left the Gannets down to 14 but hey,the Swans had finished early so surely they would have reinforcements heading their way...right? right?
Wrong.But from adversity comes strength and the Gannets forced their way inside the Cliffe 5 and were knocking at the door when an unfortunate,purely accidental freak injury to the Cliffe 10 brought a halt to the game some 12 minutes early.Everyone at Gravesend sends him their best wishes and hopes to see him back on the field of play as soon as possible
Maybe the game could have been completed on another pitch but it just didn't seem appropriate and both teams captains agreed that calling the game was the right thing to do,given the circumstances.
So a good,hard,well fought game played on a stupidly hot day ended in a draw for a Gannets team missing some key players,and Mayhem but the performance showed character which will stand them in good stead for next weeks game at home to Canterbury.
Special mention goes to the Taylor boys,Freddie and Sam playing against their former team with Sam putting in some key tackles from the back row and Freddie being almost faultless with the boot in front of goal and also causing chaos with his runs from deep,setting up attacks.
Until next time....
...We've since heard that the lad from Cliffe has been discharged from hospital and is on the mend,albeit with a booming headache!
All the best fella and hope to see you back in action soon!