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Barnes 27-22 Gravesend
Gravesend can be proud of their performance at South West London on Saturday and it was another one of those weeks when, with the rub of the green, they could have come away with the result in their favour, or at least a draw.
At the final whistle they came home with a losing bonus point, but they had shown that their true place in this league is several places above where they stand after this weekend’s games.
Late changes in the Gravesend line-up brought Louis Muncey in at scrum-half, Marc Klus in at eight, Terry Papworth into the front row, while James Newman and Will Meddings joined Nathan Lines on the bench.
Starting the stronger, Gs had the home front row standing as they came under pressure from Cuttings, Papworth and Forsyth.
It was from yet another drive at the set piece on eleven minutes that gave Chris Meddings the first chance to put a score on the board, he duly obliged to put Gs 0-3 to the good.
The home backs looked dangerous with the ball in hand and were tight in defence when Gs were going forward.
Some slick passing along the three-quarters line found Gs short out wide, and Chris Lewis exploited the space to race in for Barnes’ first try. Full-back Warren Gower slotting over the conversion, to add to an earlier penalty, to put the home side 10-3 in front.
Gs were enjoying the lion’s share of the possession from the set pieces, with Dave Irvine securing most of the line-out ball, but there was always the chance that the loose ball would be lost.
Home fly-halve Gareth Williams-Davis was alive to seize any half chance, and this he did as he grabbed the ball as Gs dithered to race through unopposed. Gower’s conversion lifted Barnes to a flattering 17-3 advantage.
Playing out the full forty minutes, Gs struck back as Charlie Cutting forced his way down for a try after several pick and drives close to the goal line.
Meddings’ conversion gave a more respectable look to the interval score 17-10.
Shortly after the restart, several knocks saw changes in the Gs pack, and some reshuffling during the remainder of the game.
Meddings had the opportunity to reduce the deficit after just two minutes of the second forty, but the easy looking kick went past the uprights.
Again much of the pressure was being exerted by the visiting forwards and just reward came in the shape of Jamie Forsyth as he crossed for his sixth try of the season. The chance to level was missed as the conversion kick drifted wide at the last moment, 17-15 and well in the game.
Barnes had the ability to always keep their line in-tact, and it was again the skill to make the extra man for the overlap that paid dividends as Lewis was given the scoring pass after some fine inter passing from his fellow backs.
Gower who had moments earlier put over a penalty from the tee, made sure of the extra points to edge away to 27-15.
Further changes and reshuffles brought on James Newman and Chris Meddings for Alex Buller.
As the home side were monitoring the movements of Dave Irvine, Newman was left to win the line-out ball.
More pressure on the home pack, and what they lacked in the tight, they more than made up for at the breakdown, taking full advantage of the lack of control in this area of the game.
Gravesend who were looking to follow up on the previous week’s success were not letting up and it was some dour defending by the whole of the home XV that kept them out.
Several infringements within the five metre “red zone” saw the hapless Thomas McArthur get his yellow card on seventy-one minutes, but there was no penalty try awarded.
As it was the superiority of Gs pack saw the try come as Matt Powdrell crossed for the score, Meddings this time on target, narrowed the score to 27-22 with just a couple of minutes remaining.
Barnes’ Gower missed a long range penalty chance, but rather than kick the ball into touch for the final whistle, Gs attempted to run out of defence for a winning score.
This final moved failed, but showed that Gs were not just happy to take a losing bonus point, but were looking for the result until the final whistle.
Hopefully the injuries that were sustained during this game will not add to the numerous unavailable players list for the next fixture.
Next week Gs entertain old rivals Tonbridge Juddians, KO 14.30
Team: Scott Curley, Adam Bishop, Chris Meddings, Ashley Moorey (C), Alex Buller, Gary Gray, Louis Muncey, Charlie Cutting, Terry Papworth, Jamie Forsyth, Dave Irvine, Ziggy Stevens, Marc Klus, Dave Riley, Matthew Powdrell. Rep: Nathan Lines, James Newman, Will Meddings.