1st XV win away at Southwark Lancers
Old Boys produce strong second half performance to record victory
Old Gravesendians overcame a poor first half to record a fine victory at Southwark Lancers. Old G’s were missing a number of their squad from impressive victory against New Ash Green the previous week. Andy Kidd, Matt Holdstock and Matt Coomber were unavailable through injury, whilst Mike Hodge, James Heaver and Joe Martin were called into Andy Miller’s squad.
With Southwark kicking off, Old Gravesendians immediately put themselves under pressure with a charged down clearance kick. Southwark looked to pounce early before the referee adjudged that OGs had come in from the side and awarded a penalty to Southwark. The simple kick was knocked over for a 3-0 lead to Southwark with Old G’s barely having touched the ball.
The frantic start continued, with Old G’s recovering the kick off and charging up field. Strong running from flanker Phil Costley and Number 8 Jack Nash saw Old G’s move into the Southwark 22, before Mike Hodge kicked an ugly, snap drop goal to level the scores.
This should have kick started Old Gravesendians performance, but if anything, they went back into their shell. OG’s looked to put the ball wide early on, with centres Pat Foreman and Greg Humphreys looking to expose the Lancers wider channels, but with every good phase, a mistake soon followed. This was the story of a half littered with errors and dominated by scrums.
Southwark managed the first try of the game halfway through the first half. Another charged down kick was well recycled by Lancers, who used their big runners to great effect in sucking in the Old G’s cover defence. With Lancers creating the overlap, their backs produced some good hands with their winger going over and round under the posts. The conversion was simple and gave Lancers a deserved 10-3 lead.
OG’s still failed to get a grip on the game but were helped by some ill-disciple from Lancers, giving Greg Humphreys a chance to kick a penalty from just inside the Lancers half. OG’s and Lancers traded penalties before the end of the first half, with Lancers leading 13-9
Whatever coach Andy Miller said to his team at half time, it certainly worked as OG’s were unrecognisable in the second period.
Great work in the front 5, led by captain Frazer Barnes saw Old G’s start to push the Lancers pack around, whilst in the back-line Hodge, Foreman and Humphreys were starting to link much better, keeping Lancers pinned back.
The half continued with OG’s probing, but unable to grab the score that would put them in front. The turning point was with 15 minutes left in the game when, following warnings from the referee, Lancers committed one too many penalties on their line and saw the Lancers centre yellow carded. Full Back, Chris Johnson looked to speed the game up with a quick tap penalty which saw him stopped just short of the line, but soon the ball was spun to Foreman who drew in 2 defenders before releasing winger Ryan Lockyer, who showed his trademark step before sliding in the corner. Humphreys touchline conversion was greeted by huge cheers from the travelling Old G’s support and it put OG’s 16-13 in front with little time on the clock.
There was still time for another Lancers yellow card which reduced them to 13 players temporarily and OG’s used this to turn the screw. Captain Frazer Barnes turned down an easy 3 points to kick a penalty into the corner. A catch and drive ensued, with the OG’s pack powering over the try line for a score to win the game. Hooker, Kevin Spain appeared beneath a pile of bodies to claim the try. Another fine Humphreys conversion put OG’s 23-13 up with 5 minutes left in the game and seemingly making the game safe.
Southwark Lancers are a fine Kent 1 outfit though and fought to the final whistle. Chris Johnson was correctly yellow carded in the final minute for illegally slowing a ruck down and Lancers threw everything at the OGs line. A final surge from Lancers huge runners was repelled with the referee signalling the end of the game.
A fine second half performance from the boys in blue certainly made amends for a first half showing that was way below what coach, Andy Miller, would expect from his troops. That said, with 10 regular 1st XV players unavailable, to go to Southwark, who have a hugely impressive home record, and take 4 points was a great result.
Next week Old Gravesendians travel to South West London for the 1st Round of the Junior Vase,