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Gravesend finish season on a low note
Having lost the previous week by a single point, to relegated Bracknell, from the last kick of the game, Gravesend also picked up a series of injuries that forced changes for the last game of the season at Sudbury.
This was further compounded when with just six minutes on the clock, Gary Gray limped off which forced a reshuffle of the back line that brought Dave Dorton up to fly-half, Sam Hall to full-back and Jamie Harris on to the wing.
LIA were enjoying the better of the play at set piece scrums and this dominance although getting a plethora of possession didn’t lead to any score until the eighteenth minute.
Until this point Gravesend had defended well, and counter attacked when the opportunity arose, but it was the home number eight who stamped his authority on the play as he brushed aside several tackle attempts to open the scoring.
At 5-0 and the conversion missed, there followed a ten minute period that saw Gs concede a further seventeen points as Catterall and Owen claimed a try apiece with fly-half Prescott adding the two conversions and a penalty for a comfortable 22-0 advantage.
Jamie Forsyth came on for Sam Brice at twenty-six minutes, which added a stability to the front row, and a forward driving influence to Gs attacking play.
This change brought about Gs first points following several pick-up and drives from the forwards, Forsyth was driven over by the support players and with Dorton adding the conversion, the scores eased to 22-7 at the interval.
The inability of the official to pick up on the numerous offside play by both XVs had a considerable influence on the game, and true to the norm, players tried to deal with this themselves which led to several unnecessary incidents.
Smallbone was shown the yellow card two minutes from half-time, and nine minutes in to the second half, Gravesend’s Forsyth and LIA’s Owen were also sitting out ten minutes in the sin bin.
Gravesend’s Jon Clement, who had been prominent in most of Gs game took just reward for his constant support of his forwards when he ducked in to touch down, after Scott Curley was ajudged to have been held up a minute earlier.
Dorton added the extra points from the tee to narrow the difference to 22-14.
It was now the turn of the home backs to defend as Gs went looking for their next score. Good supply from Clement to Dorton saw both Curley and Whitehead stopped in full flight to the line, the later tripped by an outstretched leg, which went unpunished.
Both Sox and Ziggy Stevens were forcing the defence on to the back foot, but the missed offside incidents continued to influence the game.
The Irish lock forward Any Evans capped a good afternoons performance when he finished off some fine passing involving both pack and backs to touch down on sixty-five minutes with Prescott adding the conversion.
The continued unpunished offences finally erupted into a bit of a brawl, which was allowed to get out of control, but culminated in Gs Irvine being shown a red card and a home player yellow, other players involved with throwing punches remained on the field of play.
Another converted try for each team, full-back Lawrence Price for LIA and Tony Nolan for Gs, with Prescott and Dorton converting respectfully, brought the final tally for the afternoon of 36-21, and both clubs knowing they will meet each other next season.
Having been subjected to a growing injury list throughout the season, which at times has amounted to thirteen squad players unable to play, it must be counted as an achievement to secure a position in National League Division 3 for next year.
Gravesend: Dave Dorton, Sam Hall, Tony Whitehead, Scott Curley, Tony Nolan, Gary Gray, Jon Clement, Sam Brice, Warren Mckee, Nathan Lines, James Newman, Dave Irvine, Reuben Potaka, Terry Papworth, Ziggy Stevens. Rep: Jamie Forsyth, Sox Stevens, Jamie Harris.
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