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Guernsey 22-17 Gravesend
A frustrating start to their trip to the Channel Islands saw Gravesend’s handling errors let Guernsey’s Chris Wood in for three soft tries in the first half, with the last of these coming from the last play of the first forty minutes.
Gs started well enough, but when poor handling in the forwards saw a loose ball seized on and quick hands from the home backs sent Woods in for his first, wide on the left.
The conversion was missed by fly-half Scott Davidson but the Islanders were 5-0 to the good after just seven minutes.
Despite what seemed to be a long period of apathy from the visitors, their disciplined efforts had earned the penalty chance for Chris Meddings to keep Gs in touch as the scores stood at 5-3 after the first thirty.
The score coming after local lock-forward Sam Stevens was sent to the sin bin for ten minutes cooling off.
The home backs were looking much the livelier as Ridgen and Davidson kept them fed with a good, quick supply of ball.
Although Gs were standing up to the pressure, quite manfully, they lacked any enterprise from an even share of possession.
A second try for Woods, again came from the loss of the ball in the forward exchanges, and such was the ability of the speedy winger that he raced in unopposed.
This time Davidson was on target from the tee, and four minutes later had added a successful penalty kick to the home score for 15-3.
At this stage of the game, Gs only had to keep the ball in their possession to run down the last minute of the half.
Having won the ball at a scrum, lack of control saw it emerge from the side of the second row, and the alert Tom Pool was quick to make the room and put the chip through for Wood’s third.
Davidson added the extras for a 22-3 advantage at the break.
Gravesend’s injury problems continued with Clement retiring after just seven minute of the game played, this was added to when first Charlie Cutting had to be replaced and then Jackson Bylett, who had come on for Powdrell had to be replaced with a shoulder injury with the latter coming back on.
The second half was such a different affair from the first.
Gravesend’s forwards were continuing to put pressure on the home pack, and when Marc Klus broke from the back of a five metre scrum, the scene was set for “the poacher”, Tony Nolan, to brush off the close attention to score between the posts.
Chris Meddings made no mistake as he slotted over the conversion and Gs were back in the game, at 22-10.
Gs were now beginning to pull their game together and the indecision and defending errors were coming from the Islanders.
Fifty-eight minutes and Jim Elliott lost his place on the park as he was judged to have spear tackled in defence of his line.
From the resulting penalty, ball won at the line-out was driven towards the line, but some stout defending was keeping Gs at bay.
With the defence line getting in front of the back foot, further driven penalty chances saw Gravesend top try scorer of the season to date, Jamie Forsyth, force his way down for the score.
Meddings again obliged and with twenty minutes of the game remaining, and the score line now closed to 22-17, the home crowd were silenced.
More and more Gravesend offensive drives looked sure to be rewarded, but elementary playing errors which led to the ball being lost forward, coupled with a slow delivery put pay to the expected continued revival.
Bishop and Meddings saw so little ball that they were not allowed to show their true potential, a situation which has begun to be the norm in the Gravesend play.
As the game entered the final minute, Gs nearly became the authors of their own undoing when they gave away a penalty in an extremely kickable position.
Fortunately for Gs the normally reliable and proficient boot of Davidson was off target, which meant that Gs gained a losing bonus point which may at the end of the season, be their saving grace.
Team: McMurtrie, Nolan, Bishop, Moorey, Meddings, Gray, Clement, Cutting, Moorey, Forsyth, Newman, Irvine, Stevens, Powdrell, Klus. Rep: Lines, Bylett, Sawyer.