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Gravesend 12-10 Sidcup
Rectory Field was no place for the faint hearted on Saturday where Gravesend entertained the only club side to have taken all the points from Gs this season, and up until the final whistle the result hung in the balance.
The fact that these two clubs are in second and fourth place in London One South could be seen today that they are both there on merit.
Good pressure from Gs tight “fabulous” front five earned two penalty chances in the first eight minutes and Michele Zanirato stepped up to the task as he slotted both between the posts, for an early 6-0.
It can only be said that the near 300 spectators probably were watching two of the tightest defences in the league, as time and again what looked like certain scores for both XVs were snuffed out by some quick reactions from the defences.
Not only were the backs playing a full role going forward, but often they were covering back along with the hard working loose forwards to keep their lines secure.
The visiting three-quarters were ably led by Montgomery at ten, and it was the cutting runs of Dean that rattled the home XV as he looked to have the pace to get through.
Several times the Gs pack went close from set pieces inside the twenty-two, but could not convert the possession into points.
It was Fish who had come on for the out of sorts Okenla, suffering from a reaction to malaria, who chased a kick-ahead, gather to run home only to be pulled down just metres short.
The stalemate was eventually broken at the stroke of half-time when Montgomery slotted over a long kick to narrow the scores to 6-3 at half-time.
Straight back from the Sidcup drop-out for the start of the second forty minutes, and it was Gs who were on the front foot.
With the play going through several phases, both left, right and centre, Sidcup had been drawn to the right hand side, with a Gs overlap on the left. Bressons seeing the space, kicked across field only to see the ball curl backwards, and go loose, a lone Sidcup player Dean, managed to gain possession, and chase through to score under the cross bar.
Montgomery made the most of the easy conversion that put Sidcup in the lead at 6-10 with just five minutes played.
A dour struggle for both XVs ensued for best part of the next thirty minutes with great expectations for both sets of supporters as a break through either way looked imminent.
A move up the right from yet another Gray and Okenla combination reached the line only for the final pass go to ground when a try looked certain.
Good performances in the last quarter from Gs front row, with the additional assistance from the fresh legs of Sox Stevens, saw Gs force the pace and it was only yet more fine defence from the visitors that brought move after move to a standstill.
Seventy-three minutes played and it was yet again Zanirato who calmly kicked Gs within one point 9-10.
Knowing that the next score could decide the outcome of this local derby, both XVs lifted their game yet again, every ball, won or lost was subject to a huge struggle to decide who had possession.
Gravesend were coming off best from this and it was another penalty that brought the chance for Zanirato to put over from the tee, only this time from wide out on the left and a full forty metres.
As the clocked crossed the eighty minute mark, Zanirato’s kick sailed accurately between the uprights, Gs were in front again 12-10.
A full five minutes of extra time was played out, and from the Sidcup drop-out, Gravesend forwards led from the front by Forsyth, Cutting and Klus, took the play through numerous phases, and the pressure could easily have led to a score.
Having run the clock down, and still in possession Gs kicked the ball into touch for Mr Taylor to blow for the end of play.
Next week sees Geees travel away to a revived Staines’ XV who are still fighting for survival in the league.
Team: Gray, Okenla, Meddings C, Moorey, Rocket, Bressons, Zanirato, Cuttings, Klus, Forsyth, Brooks-Smith, Necular, Bird, Stevens Z, Aigbokhae, reps; Stevens S, Fish, Newman
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