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Chobham 20-22 Gravesend
Gravesend produced a performance that stands amoungst the best seen from the town club for many a game, and came home with a well deserved victory.
Nothing better for a true test of how your league season is shaping up by visiting league leader Chobham, who like Gravesend had lost just one of their fixtures to date.
For those who travelled south of the M25 there was plenty to get excited about as Chobham quickly took the game to Gravesend’s twenty-two metre line, and got the ball to the elusive Josh Devitt who cut through a stunned defence to score by the uprights.
Alex Seers, who didn’t put a foot wrong all game, until he was concussed late in the second half, slotted over the conversion for an early 7-0 advantage.
A strong blustery wind had a huge influence on the game, and was instrumental in the early miss, of what would normally be a bread and butter kick for Miki Zanirato, as the kick was taken past the post.
Gravesend were content to work for their possession and made little use of the wind advantage during the first half, never-the-less, they were back on level terms when a move down the right saw the ball reach the hands of Tony (the poacher) Nolan.
With the way to the line appearing to be blocked, the utility back simply sparkled as he eluded the outstretched defence before running around to touch-down by the goal.
Zanirato stepped up to bring the scores level at 7-7 after just ten minutes play.
Gravesend’s pack were looking superb as they controlled the set pieces, but from the ball won, from the turnover, Chobham’s Seers was able to combine with his well drilled back line of Paul, Sims, Walsh and Devitt as they put Gs defence under pressure.
Seers added a penalty to his tally before the sprightly Devitt doubled his tally as he again popped up to finish an excellent passing move along the three-quarters, with Seers again on target from the tee.
The stop-start of the game, as the referee was quick to blow for the odd penalty offence, in total, about a third of the game was taken up by these, the main culprits were Gs, did not lead to any fast open entertainment.
Finding themselves 17-7 down, a little more urgency began to creep into Gravesend’s play as they worked their way closer to the opposition line.
Newcomer Humphrey Kayange had been having a good debut playing at eight and it was justice to his game that he eventually found the room to touch the ball down near the posts.
Zanirato’s kick narrowed the deficit to 17-14 with ten minutes of the second quarter remaining.
The dominance of the Gravesend pack at the set pieces was such that the home backs were struggling to get their hands on any further decent possession. Gravesend’s line-out was working well as they varied the throw in.
Dave Brooks-Smith along with Rab Forbes and Remus Necula were securing most of their own ball while also disrupting the home line.
It was unfortunate that Nsa Harrison, who rolled on for the Dave Brooks-Smith, having his first run out of the season, was held up over the line, but Gs soon regained the momentum as they won ball from the scrum.
As the half came to a close it was some smart passing and looping round from the Gs backs that eventually led to Temi Okenla scoring in the corner to edge Gs in front 17-19 at the break.
Some spirited attacks and superb use of the wind in the second half saw Chobham pin Gs down for long periods after the interval, but it was the penalty from the boot of Seers that edged the home side in front 20-19, just four minutes after the restart.
Gravesend fought hard to work their way into the game but it was the constant loss of position to the whistle as they were penalised on numerous occasions when inside the home twenty-two that forced them back to the same position but in their own half.
The defencive qualities of the Gravesend players came to the fore as they repelled the home attacks.
It seems wrong to single out any individuals from a superb team performance, but it would be equally wrong not to mention the return of Rab Forbes and the consistency of Jamie Forsyth both of whom produced mountainous performances.
With Seers off the park with concussion, and Gs getting their noses in front from the boot of Zanirato after Chobham were caught offside in front of their posts on seventy-four minutes for 20-22 the rest of the home team’s confidence seem to drain from them.
Awarded several kickable penalty chances as the game came to a close, they opted for the kick for the line. As they lost every one of these, through some great disruption at the line and cleaning up of the loose ball by Sox Stevens their route was cut off.
Four minutes of pick-up and drive, led by the strength and experience of Forsyth, Cuttings and Stevens saw the home side repelled time and again.
At the final whistle thirty exhausted players, that had given their all, were deservedly applauded off the park by the appreciative audience from both clubs.
Team: 1 Charlie Cutting, 2 Sox Stevens, 3 Jamie Forsyth, 4 Remus Necla, 5 David Brooks-Smith, 6 Tom Bird, 7 Rab Forbes, 8 Humphrey Kayanage, 9 Michele Zanirato, 10 Matt Bressons, 11 Temi Okenla, 12 Ashley Moorey, 13 Chris Meddings, 14 Tony Nolan, 15 Gary Gray, 16 Nsa Harrison, 17 James Newman, 18 Will Meddings.
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