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Havant 3-31 Gravesend
It was only due to the huge efforts of the Havant ground staff and volunteers that this game was given the go ahead and even then the weather conspired to spoil their efforts.
The half of the pitch that was in the shadow of the clubhouse looked like an area more suited to the dear hippopotamus for cooling the blood, but it takes more than a few mud patches to prevent the game of rugby.
Gravesend burst back from their unfortunate reversal against Wimbledon and one could see from the mood on the bus going down and the dressing room before the game that they were ready to put Gs back in the driving seat. This they did from an excellent performance across the whole XV.
Playing with the breeze in their backs, it was only minutes before the first attack was launched and the strong running of Chris Meddings took him clear of the defence to open the scoring.
Miki Zanirato added the points for 0-7 after just three minutes.
Although on their own patch, it was Havant that appeared to be finding it difficult to get their play together, but from the strength of the tackling that was being made by both teams, there were going to be no soft options in today’s game.
Before ten minutes had passed Gravesend’s Matt Bressons took a heavy knock to his shoulder that lead to him being replaced. At this point a reshuffle, that brought Gray up to fly-half and Temi Okenla from the bench to full-back, was made.
The visiting forwards were revelling in the conditions, and there seemed to be a light hearted mood among the players as you could see they were enjoying the game.
None more so than Adam Aigbokhae on the open-side flank as along with Tom Bird and Ziggy they tore into their opposition to gain possession or take the play forward.
Conditions weren’t the best for an open passing game but both XVs did their best to entertain the home and travelling spectators.
Several close manoeuvres near the Havant line went unrewarded until workaholic Aigbokhae burst through to touch down for Gss second try of the afternoon.
Again Zanirato slotted over the conversion to double the points lead to 0-14.
With the league’s top points scorer, Joel Knight at inside centre, who also is only second to Miki Zanirato in the kicking stakes, there was no doubt that the ball would go between the uprights when Gs strayed offside in front of goal.
The successful kick narrowed the score to 3-14 with ten minutes of the half remaining.
Gravesend were enjoying the lion’s share of the possession as their forwards were dominating the set pieces, and although veteran scrum half Grant Morris did at times manage to get the ball to his back line, they were closed down so quickly that they found no gaps to get through.
Pressure from the home defence at times forced Gs into rushing their distribution, and this coupled with the wet ball, led to at times scrappy play.
Gs stretched the home defence wide and attacked down both flanks and with the big forwards gaining possession it was fitting that lock forward Remus Necular forced his way down for the try.
The by now heavy ball didn’t rise high enough to get over the bar, but at 3-19 Gs were well in control with just two more minutes of the half left.
From the restart, a clean take by Stevens was fed to Aigbokhae just outside his twenty-two. The young flanker took off on a run than saw him cut through the opposition to near the opposition twenty-two, and when it looked like he would be pulled down he lifted the pace and raced home.
Zanirato’s success from the tee brought the scores to 3-26 at the break.
With the bonus point try in the bag, and Havant never looking like they would be a serious threat, despite their known talent, it was Gravesend who opened the second half scoring with an early try from “Poacher” Tony Nolan, who finished off a series of forward phases to score.
Having played best part of the second forty minutes in home territory, it was the dour defending from the whole of the Havant XV that prevented any further score for Gravesend, and twice when they managed to break out from this position it was last ditch defending that killed these moves.
Comfortably in control, Gs shuffled the pack to bring on Ross Comfort and Sox Stevens and played out the best part of twenty minutes inside the opposition twenty-two and when the final whistle blew, the 3-31 result was a good one to go home with.
Credit must go to all the players that stuck to their tasks in the appalling conditions to provide entertainment for their club followers.
Next week Gs entertain the talented Chobham who have been close to the top five all season
Team: Gray, Nolan, Meddings C, Moorey, Rocket, Bressons, Zanirato, Cuttings, Klus, Forsyth, Brooks-Smith, Necular, Bird, Aigbokhae, Stevens Z reps; Stevens S, Comfort, Okenla.