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Wimbledon 16-19 Gravesend
This was not a game for the faint hearted, as the battle up front for control of this game started with the first whistle and did not abate until the final blast from the referee that called an end to this contest.
Dominated by forward play throughout an, at times, ill tempered affair, it was the outstanding performance by the Gravesend pack, who’s strength of character stood out through the whole eighty minutes.
An early penalty from the reliable boot of Miki Zanirato gave Gs the edge in the first quarter and he added to this on the twenty-three minute mark.
Such was the tightness in play, continually interrupted by the blast of the whistle that stopped the game rather than let any advantage be played, that there was little chance for either side crossing the try line.
Thirty-one minutes played and the Dons full back, Neil Hallett, stepped up to narrow the deficit to 3-6 and this is how it stood at the break.
Four minutes into the third quarter and Zanirato added his third successful kick to put a little daylight between the scores, and by this time Tom Goss had replace Joe Fish on the wing and Ziggy Stevens had come on for the injured Adam Aigbokhae in the pack.
Big games from Brooks-Smith and Stevens and workaholic Ford, along with Klus Cuttings and Forsyth complimented the efforts of the backs, and kept Gs on the offensive.
Numerous missed offences were beginning to tell on the attitudes of some of the players, as unnecessary exchanges were made off the ball, and it was during this spell that the home side took advantage of the unpunished errors that led to a try for home fly-half Brian Croke.
The conversion from the boot of Hallett put the Dons in the lead for the first time 10-9.
The Gravesend tight five excelled in the last quarter of the game, and having driven to within seven metres of the line, the quick release gave Gs a three man overlap, but the hurried last pass went, frustratingly, along the ground into touch.
So much pressure at the set scrum from G’s front-row saw the home side offend time and again and eventually the referee had to award the penalty try.
Zanirato’s conversion restored the six point differential at 10-16.
Both sets of backs tried their best to make something form the staccato supply of possession, and it was Gravesend’s Temi Okenla that twice put a stop to the speedy Josh Charles as he was sent through on his run.
Hallet added a penalty to his earlier successes to pull the score close at 13-16 with ten minutes left on the clock but a final three points from the full back in answer to Zanirato fourth kick of the day brought the game to an end at 16-19.
The outcome of the game was possibly spoilt by the continuous stoppages and the numerous missed offences, but the result in the end deservedly went to the town club, keeping them in contention and third place in the table.
Next week there is a rest for the first XV from league rugby while the club take on Ashford in the Kent Cup.
Team: 1 Charlie Cutting, 2 Marc Klus, 3 Jamie Forsyth, 4 Ziggy Stevens 5 David Brooks-Smith, 6 Tom Bird, 7 Adam Aigbokhae, 8 Chukwuma Osazuwa, 9 Michele Zanirato, 10 Gary Gray, 11 Joe Fish 12 Ashley Moorey, 13 Tiwa Obisesan, 14 Temi Okenla, 15 Matt Bresson, 16 Tomas Ford, 17 Will Meddings, 18 Tom Goss
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