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Brighton 10-17 Gravesend
A dull game that matched the cold damp over-cast weather at Waterhall Park on Saturday!
There was little seen on the park today that would have help lift the festive spirits on an over-cast Saturday afternoon on the downs of Sussex.
The game was played in poor light conditions throughout, and Gravesend did most of their points scoring in the best of this.
The game throughout was subject of some ill tempered incidents, that culminated in a poor official, appear to get the disciplinary decisions, that he acted on, wrong but also missed some major incidents, that affected the game.
Within three minutes of the start, Miki Zanirato punished an early transgression by the Blues line, to put Gravesend first on the board from his well struck penalty.
Much back and forth as the play was continually broken for stoppages and penalty calls for numerous infringements at the break down.
Schoolboy errors and a line-out that wasn't working to any advantage, over elaboration when basic rugby was all that was required, kept Gs held at bay.
Blues backs were enjoying their runs when they did have the ball in hand, but an immature attitude of a fly-half who would have done better concentrating on his game let the home XV down.
Twenty-two minutes and a second penalty from the boot of Zanirato edged Gs into a 0-6 lead.
Gravesend’s tight five were shutting down any moves around the set piece, but the home back row were also quick to close down any attacking moves that were coming from the visitors.
A line-out inside the Blues twenty-two was driven forward and recycled before eventually reaching fly half Matt Bressons.
The defence line looked bemused as Bressons looped to retake the ball before first showing the ball to the right before taking a huge step back between the anchored home centres as he raced through to put the ball down for a try.
A seven minute period of Blues onslaught after Marc Klus was sent to the sin bin, but an inexplicable lack of confidence or misjudgement of their abilities saw the home side spurn penalty chances to put scores on the board.
Despite their continued opportunities Blues could not get the ball down over the line, and lost possession and position time and time again, and the whistle went for the break with the score-line at 0-11.
Possibly one of the teams with the ability to be in the mix for table topping honours, and also playing as one of the better oppositions that Gs have faced this half of the season, it was the constant off the ball incidents that lost them any respect.
The ill discipline continued after the interval, and it was again Zanirato that made the home side pay for the continued infringements.
Gravesend were not back to full strength for long, when an error of judgement saw lock David Brooks-Smith shown the red card as he went to protect a player on the ground from taking a third blow that left Gary Gray needing treatment from the physio.
As the play entered the third quarter, it was no surprise that the man short began to tell and from a driving maul Blues crossed for a try.
With their tails in the air, the home XV again capitalised on the man advantage as this time they quickly moved a tap penalty wide where wing Trevis darted round to touch-down in the corner.
Although forced to defend for much of the last quarter, Gs held firm and it was again unnecessary penalties that gave Gs the chance to increase their lead and the sure footed Zanirato that obliged.
Still looking for the second try, Gravesend continued to try to play their usual open style but this wasn't to be their day.
Brighton's efforts to steal the result were immense, and one could feel that it only needed Steve Mcqueen to come flying over the wire fence to complete the great escape, but for Gs he didn't have a part to play.
The final whistle was welcome as it brought a scrappy ill-tempered game to a close; with such poor officiating it was a relief to see the points gained that keep Gs on top of the table.
Team: Okenla, Rocket, Meddings, Moorey, Nolan, Bressons, Zanirato, Cuttings, Klus, Forsyth, Necular, Brooks-Smith, Osazuwa, Aigbokhae, Harrison, Reps: Stevens, Stevens, Gray
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