Today’s performance and outcome has been promised for some weeks now, and it gave the home supporters much to cheer as the points came Gs way.
Before the game a group of youngsters, from Shears Green School, were treated to a minis training session as the first winners in 2012 of Project TRY (Tackle Responsibility Yourself) an ongoing initiative aimed at promoting good behaviour in schools.
Later they formed the guard of honour as players ran on to the pitch. Visitors to Rectory Field were also entertained by the Latin American Drum Band from Gravesend Grammar School.
Gravesend front five set the pattern for this game from the first set scrummage, when TJs, unable to take the pressure, stood up.
With the breeze in his favour, Dave Dorton’s kick from the half-way line sailed between the uprights.
The dominance at the set piece was such that on nine minutes, the home forwards drive earned a second chance which Dorton sent the same way for 6-0.
Two further chances slipped past the posts, but TJ’s fly-half, Dan Rothnie, also pulled one wide from in front.
It was plain that this game was not for the faint hearted as both packs put in some big hits around the mauls.
Much against the run of play, as TJs were mainly pinned inside their own territory, it was their turn to get on the score sheet.
Pouncing on a loose ball inside his own twenty-two, as Gravesend were on the attack, TJ’s wing evaded the tackles then sent Tyron Childs away to run in unopposed.
Brett Hamlin added the conversion to narrow the gap to a flattering 9-7, on the thirty minute mark.
Dave Irvine along with Ziggy Stevens were winning good ball at the line-out and with the pack driving forward the promised score was soon to come.
Ball recycled in the middle, found wing three-quarter Tom Goss running the angle then side step the defence to send in Sam Hall for the try.
Out of character, Dorton missed the conversion leaving the score at 14-7.
Close passing, on the odd occasion that the visiting backs did get possession, saw fly-half Rothnie evade the tackles to chase in. Hamlin was again successful to level at the break 14-14.
Referee David Parsons had kept a fairly tight grip on this encounter throughout, and the penalty count was indicative to the style of play that TJs had adopted for the day.
On forty-five minutes, the persistent infringements of flanker Mase Leulunui were penalised as the yellow card, and ten minutes in the sin bin, followed his killing of the ball.
Dave Dorton started the second half as he did the first with the successful kick from the tee.
TJs better period of play seemed to stem from being down to fourteen men, and the change that brought youngster Ryan Redmond on at full back.
A field kick to the corner, and good ball won at the line, enabled the ball to be sent out to the centres. Gs defensive line stopped the attack, but recycled ball saw Buster Collins burst away to score.
Redmond was secure to add the extra points that edged the visitors in front 17-21.
Gravesend’s forwards continued to dominate, and the fresh legs of Phil Thompson (Dave Irvine) and Nathan Lines (Matt Clement) added to the visitors woes.
Jon Clement who had driven the pack on for the first sixty, at time bewitched the opposition as he dance around the mauls kept Gs going forward.
Forsyth and Ziggy Stevens were driving into the visitors, supported by the whole eight, and gave no quarter.
Thompson won several advantage scrums to Gs as he held up the ball carrier, much to the visitors frustration, catching at the tail of the line also saw him spin from the back to carry the game forward.
Good ground won, as the visitors were feeding on scraps, took Gs to within five metres. Several pick-ups and drives saw skipper Forsyth forced over for the try.
Dortons kick from the tee turned the score into seven and a well deserved 22-21 lead.
It had been mostly Gravesend in attack as the game entered the last five minutes, but as had happened on earlier occasions it was the opportunist in TJ’s backs, that turned a poorly passed ball, along the ground, into points in the corner.
Redmond failed to add the extras from near the touch line, but TJs looked to have snatched the result on seventy-seven minutes.
Gravesend, never ones to roll over, were straight back into the Judd’s twenty-two. Frayed TJ’s tempers were highlighted as Gs again turned the screw up front, which saw a Gs player kneed to the head, for this offence TJs Arthur Evans receive a straight red card.
Dave Dorton’s kick appeared to be going wide before it eased right and sailed between the posts to re-establish Gs with a single point advantage, 27-26.
In control from the restart, Gs forced the play back into Judd’s territory, winning the final scrum enabled Jon Clement to kick the ball to touch and the final whistle.
Today’s four points, while others around them failed, moves Gravesend safely in to mid-table with three more games to play.
Next week-end Gs travel to Hertfordshire, to play Tring, who sit just above them in the table.
Gravesend: Sam Hall, Dave Dorton, Scott Curley, Adam Bishop, Tom Goss, Gary Gray, Jon Clement, Jamie Forsyth, Terry Papworth, Sam Brice, Dave Irvine, Reuben Potaka, Matt Clement, Ziggy Stevens, Sox Stevens. Rep: Nathan Lines, Phil Thompson, Jamie Gwynne.