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Gravesend 74-5 Haywards Heath
Haywards Heath were the unlucky recipients of the backlash from G’s less than sparkling performance in their win at Dover the previous week, coupled with a totally justified changing room dressing down after that game.
Gravesend kicked-off and were straight on the offensive as the ball catcher was mugged just outside the Heath twenty-two, but the only scores in the first fifteen minutes was a lone Michele Zanirato penalty and an unconverted try wide out from full-back Temitope Okenla.
With Dave Dorton on the bench, this second missed kick by the scrum-half left the spectators wondering how long before changes were made, but their fears were unjustified as by the end of the game, the young Italian had added a further eight conversions, most of which were from the touchline.
The penalty count throughout the game was not what the coaches were expecting, as it went against the town club by at least four to one.
With the forwards, at times, getting in each other’s way, and on occasions standing between fly-half Gray and his back line, the next score was slow to come, but when it did it was from a superbly engineered set of passing.
Receiving the ball on the loop, Moorey combined with Gray, then Meddings and Obisesan down the left side before he again took the pass that saw him run in under the bar.
Three minutes later and Gray who played well throughout the afternoon, marshalling his back line and breaking through the defence, to devastating effect, ran in a try of his own.
Meddings who had twisted his way out of the tackles as he took the crash ball forward also got on the board as he finished off yet another great second phase move wide out after the pack had recycled the ball yet again.
Zanirato added the conversions to these three tries taking the score to 29-0 at the break.
Dorton replaced the injured Obisesan just before half time, as the debutant winger was taken off with a thigh strain.
Heath lost their number eight midway through the first forty and reshuffled their pack which moved Darren Brown into the vacant slot in the middle of the back-row, and his presence was noted throughout the remainder of the game.
Although not dropping their heads, it was brown that tried to lead the counter attacks, but the Gravesend defence was just too strong for the visitor’s efforts.
One minute in from the restart and it was the magic of CJ Osazuwa that saw the opposition fade away from him as he ran through the whole of the defence to touch down.
There was a glimmer of hope for Heath when a well worked ball was kicked ahead and inter-passing between Lucas and Jackson saw the former awarded a try by the corner flag.
Surprisingly it was the forwards, who had been in control for the full eighty minutes, who led the blitzing of the Heath line, despite some great runs up the right from Dorton, matched by Goss on the other wing, but both made the ball available after the tackle.
Backing up to take the second phase possession G’s pack showed that they also knew where the line was.
Two apiece for David Brookes-Smith and Adam Aigbokhae, with CJ also adding his second, these along with Zanirato’s conversions took the tally to 69-5 with thirteen minute left to play.
It would be wrong to single out just one of the pack, as the whole eight played a full role in the systematic destruction of their opposite numbers, time and time again the pick and carry was employed to devastating effect, and their commitment showed in the share of tries they scored between them.
Lead coach Williams made use of the rolling replacements to give several of the forwards a rest, but tight-head prop Jamie Forsyth, whose massive presence was missed the previous week, due to the arrival of a new baby daughter, had to wait until the last seven minutes for his turn, but still appeared keen to stay on the park.
Time running short, the ball was again released to the backs, and having taken it to within ten metres of the line, good recycling ahd quick movement of the ball say Tom Goss dart in at the corner, lifting the final score to 74-5.
While this was going on at Gravesend’s Rectory Field, the 2nd XV were away to Dover 2nds establishing a commanding 52-10 win.
Team: 1 Charlie Cutting, 2 Marc Klus, 3 Jamie Forsyth, 4 Aaron James-Nicholls, 5 David Brooke-Smith, 6 Ziggy Stevens, 7 Adam Aigbokhae, 8 Chukwuma Osazuwa, 9 Michele Zanirato, 10 Gary Gray, 11 Tiwa Obisesan, 12 Chris Meddings, 13 Ashley Moorey, 14 Tom Goss, 15 Temi Okenla, 16 Tomas Ford, 17 Sox Stevens, 18 Dave Dorton.
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