Déjà vu as Slow Start costs Old Gs dear against RBS
Despite a bright second half display Old Gs slide to a 26-34 defeat to RBS
Old Gravesendians 26 RBS 34
Old Gs were hoping to get their season back on track on Saturday as they hosted RBS. However a poor opening 20 minutes once again cost them dearly and gave themselves too much to do – with tries from Ryan Lockyer, Steve Thompson, Jack Nash and Kevin Spain not enough to secure victory.
Old Gs kicked off and had some promising opening play – securing the ball well and looking to implement the phase play that they have worked on in training. However RBS were dangerous on turnover ball and soon opened their account for the afternoon – taking advantage of a gap in the Old Gs defence to fly under the posts and convert. 0-7.
Old Gs were undeterred though and worked their way back into the game, Lewis Moss and Andy Kidd finding holes in the tight and Matt Wilson doing some damage in midfield. The RBS penalty count was also high meaning that Old Gs were working good territory. The away side defence though was in no mood to buckle and put in some saving tackles to keep the Old Gs attack at bay.
The RBS no.8 was extremely strong with ball in hand, regularly putting his side on the front foot and asking question of the Old Gs defence. Soon he doubled the RBS advantage as he picked from the base of a scrum in the Old Gs 22 and went through two attempted tackles to barrel his way over. The simple conversion was successful, 0-14.
The home side were in no mood to let the game get away from them and too their credit forced RBS back into their own 22. Old Gs started to have some good ball control, with the forwards punching holes into the RBS rear-guard, with Brett Buckingham, Jack Nash and Phil Costley leading the charge. When good possession was secured the backs were finding some space out wide, with Steve Thompson, Chris Johnson and James Hood looking lively.
The deficit was then reduced. From a catch and drive line out, Doug Wilson fed the backs. His brother Matt made the hard yards in midfield, offloaded to the supporting Matt Holdstock who shipped the ball down the line to winger Ryan Lockyer who finished well under pressure in the corner. The conversion didn’t find the mark. 5-14 with Old Gs back in the game.
RBS still were putting pressure on the Old Gs defence though, with scramble defence keeping RBS at bay, with Hood putting in a couple of decisive tackles on his dangerous opposite number, well supported by Costley who was lively as ever in the loose.
One of the key moments in the game then occurred. RBS secured good lineout ball in their own half. Two Old Gs tackles were broken through, another two tacklers impeding each other and the final simple pass executed well as RBS strolled under the posts – an extremely poor try to concede from an Old Gs perspective. 5-21.
Despite this disappointment Old Gs then bounced back and controlled the remainder of the half. On another day RBS may have received a yellow card for the penalties they were giving away, but Old Gs stuck to their task as they strived to find a way back into the game.
Yet again the line out was functioning well, Phil Costley ruling the skies and the variations of the driving maul asking questions of the RBS defence – with Andy Morris as always the key orchestrator in this.
From one such instance the forwards drove into the RBS defence creating the platform to attack through the backline. Holdstock combined with Wilson who found James Hood on a cracking line. Hood danced past would be tacklers and whilst stopped short managed to offload to the supporting Steve Thompson who crashed over. Holdstock kicked the conversion, 12-21 – the half time score.
Old Gs knew that they needed to produce a good second half performance to claw back the advantage that they have given to RBS. Initial signs were promising as backs and forwards combined in the phases to make headway up the pitch. However errors were creeping into the Old Gs game and on regular occasion they handed possession back to RBS through their own mistakes.
RBS retained a threat, notably through their lively back row, who were excellent with ball in hand. They regularly moved their team out of danger, strong in contact and deceptive in pace, working their side into the Old Gs 22. A penalty was coughed up by the Old Gs defence and RBS extended their advantage, 12-24.
Whilst huge amounts of effort were going into the Old Gs play, they were struggling to put the consistent pressure on the RBS defence that was required to add to their tally on the scoreboard. When they did find good field possession the concession of penalties and handling errors thwarted their own progress. This provided some breathing space to the RBS defence, who then used strong running and the boot to get out of their own half.
Old Gs task then became almost impossible as RBS added a bonus point try. Their forwards went through the phases, combining with the backline to stretch Old Gs left and right. Eventually space was created in midfield for their second row to crash through a hole and under the posts. With the conversion added the score was now 12-31.
By this point the changes had been rung, with Kevin Spain and Chris Bassett on for the injured Joe Martin and Andy Morris respectively. The home side were refusing to accept their fate though and forced their way back into the game. Forwards retained possession well and Old Gs began to work their game plan which when executed well puts any side under pressure. Holdstock and Bassett combined to find Jack Nash on a hard line who bashed through defenders to dive over. Holdstock added the conversion and it was 19-31.
However, the RBS re-start was fumbled by Old Gs and RBS once again found themselves in the attacking 22 – winning another penalty which was despatched through the upright to extend their lead, 19-34.
Old Gs were not done though and controlled the final 15 minutes of the contest. RBS defence was now creaking and Old Gs were winning multiple penalties which they kicked to the corner to use their strong driving lineout. The bonus point try came from just this. Andy Kidd found Costley at the lineout who secured good possession. The forward pack swarmed round him and surged over the line, with Kevin Spain dotting the ball down. Holdstock added the extras, 26-34 with 6 minutes on the clock.
Old Gs kept playing – attacking from deep and finding their way back into the RBS 22, with Lewis Moss and Andy Kidd strong with ball in hand, well supported by the wide backs in the form Johnson and Hood who were finding space. With 2 mins on the clock Old Gs won a further penalty out wide and opted to go for goal to bring themselves within bonus point range. This slipped wide and with RBS securing possession from the resulting restart they kicked the ball to touch to seal victory.
Final score Old Gs 26 RBS 34.
Another frustrating tale of what might have been for Old Gs. First half defence cost them dearly and yet again gave them too much of a mountain to climb to secure a comeback victory. They played some excellent rugby in patches, yet not consistently enough throughout the 80 minutes to gain the win. Credit to RBS to took all their chances well and saw the game out clinically in the final exchanges.
Next week Old Gs travel to lead leaders Beccehamian.