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GRAVESEND 15-25 COBHAM
With Chichester winning away at Old Elthamians, albeit it close, 3-13 Gravesend maintain their position at the head of London One South through a superior points difference.
Dropping out for the start with the river behind them Gravesend came under pressure from their own errors. Cobham came to rectory field with a worthy reputation and it was soon apparent as the forwards gave a lesson in ball retention and timing.
With the visitor’s attack having been stopped wide on the right, Gs cleared to their twenty-two metre line.
Cobham winning the line-out, drove forward, recycled the ball and with a three man overlap on the left, Smedley touched down wide out for 0-5 after fifteen minutes.
G’s were winning their share of possession only to see ball lost in the tackle or turned over on the ground, and penalties going against both teams for holding on the ground.
Gravesend taking the play to near the Cobham twenty-two saw them win the chance of a score just at the end of the first quarter, and Gray duly obliged with a penalty kick, 3-5.
Cobham’s well rehearsed play was again rewarded as Gs failed to keep an in depth cover, and the visitors forward pressure was rewarded when Matt Johnson crossed for a try converted by Arran Cowell for 3-12.
Gravesend,despite making some huge tackles in the middle, found they were again short in defence as the visitors tied them up at the breakdown, and with ball won and space outside, wing Nick Sutton ran in to add to Gs misery and 3-17.
With the wrong options chosen slow decision making with ball in hand and line kicks not always finding touch, it was left to skipper Jamie Forsythe to lead from the front.
Abbey in the sin-bin, and Gravesend’s best move of the half, with Nolan Moorey and Bishop chasing through a well placed Gray kick, forced the full back to spill the ball, only to see the kick ahead go out off a Cobham player.
Gs winning the throw, Cobham were kept on their own line, Clement recycling the ball time and again until Forsythe, with only one thought in mind, drove over for a well deserved captain’s score, Gray adding the points for 10-17 at the break.
Within two minutes of the restart Gravesend slipped further behind as Cobham’s pack took control, rolled forward and made twenty metres for hooker Heinrich Du Plessis to touch down.
Winning turnover ball just outside their twenty-two, Gravesend kicked long, and as the visiting wing knocked on, scrum-half Clement kicked on and was beating the opposition to the ball when the whistle went for the knock-on.
It was plain that Clement was through, but advantage denied, the decision was queried by Gs and a penalty awarded to the visitors.
To Gravesend’s credit their heads never dropped and with good supply of ball coming their way Gs were playing a more expansive game it looked like only a matter of time before they would score.
But with wrong options taken, and lost ball, it was again Cobham who edged further away when Cowell added a penalty for 10-25.
The last twenty minutes of the game was Gs. Pressure on the visitors and the ball was beginning to go to hand.
As Harris, Bishop and Nolan found space with an overlap and the line five metres away, the last defender deliberately slapped the ball forward to prevent a try scoring pass. The offender was sent to the sin-bin, but no penalty try was awarded.
Gravesend were now camped inside the opposition twenty-two and with Forbes, Stevens and Forsythe looking to turn the game round, half-backs Clement and Gray maintaining the forward momentum the score came as Sox Stevens crashed through for a try to reduce the margin to 15-25 with seven minutes remaining.
With the final minutes of the game played out in Cobham’s twenty-two, the relief of the final whistle was evident in the visitors’ jubilation at the result.
There is no dishonour in defeat, especially against a xv as well drilled as Cobham.
The comfort Gravesend can take from the game, despite losing their previously unblemished record, is that they played out a full eighty minutes, and with two major decisions not going Gs way, against lesser opponents they would have been rewarded for those final ten minutes.
Next week: home to MAIDSTONE kick-off 14.30