Old Gs Claim Local Bragging Rights
By Matt Holdstock
8 tries see Old Gravesendians beat New Ash Green 50-10
Old Gs got back to winning ways on Saturday with a comprehensive 50-10 home victory over local adversaries New Ash Green (NAG). Whilst not the complete performance that they were after Old Gs scored some excellent tries, with interplay between forwards and backs coming to the fore as has been worked upon in the early stages of this season.
NAG got the game underway but it was all Old Gs pressure in the opening exchanges, Jack Nash carrying hard, well supported by Joe Martin and Andy Morris. Sam Baker was proving menacing in the wide channels and the side was firmly on the front foot.
This was working Old Gs up field, building the platform required. Space was soon created out wide, with the backline finding debutant winger Martyn Langley. Langley flew past his man and up the touchline, drew the last defender and found the supporting Chris Johnson who rounded under the posts. Matt Thompson converted to make it 7-0.
NAG had no intention of lying down though, bouncing back in the forwards by using big crash one out runners. Old Gs defence was on good form though and repelled would be dangers, chopping down ball carriers, and looking for steals over the ball.
With ball in hand Old Gs looked dangerous out wide and soon they extended their advantage from a set piece backs move, straight off the training ground. Matt Holdstock and Mike Hodge combined on a wraparound to create space out wide for Richard Parish and Chris Johnson to release Langley, impressing at this level, who finished well under pressure in the corner. 12-0
Old Gs kept the lion share of possession. Andrew Kidd was enjoying his time in the loose, this freedom provided due to the excellence in the tight of Brett Buckingham and Lewis Moss, who were both making the hard yards with ball in hand. Out wide Matt Thompson was embracing his role in the space the work of the pack was creating, stepping gliding and coasting into gaps in his usual assured style.
NAG had their moments, and pushed Old Gs back into the 22 - securing a penalty which they kicked to reduce the deficit to 12-3.
The Old Gs pressure resumed though, Doug Wilson marshalling the breakdown expertly from scrum half to keep his team ticking over. Camped in the NAG 22, the cracks began to appear, a further penalty seeing the NAG second row earn himself a 10 minute breather.
Another Old Gs score soon followed. Chris Johnson and Langley flew up the right touchline, Morris and Moss hit the ball up hard in midfield. The ball was recycled and kept alive through the hands of Holdstock, Nash, Thompson and Richard Parish to find veteran Mike Hodge, attempting to take a breather out wide. Hodge rolled back the years to round the last defender and meander over in the corner. 17-3.
Old Gs kept ploughing forward, talisman Sam Baker leading the charge in his usual physical and abrasive style - showing the way for his forward colleagues who were enjoying their carrying exploits. This was creating huge dents in the NAG rear-guard, and ample time for the backline to stretch their legs on the Bronte View plains, with Parish, Johnson and the gazelle like Langley serving up a treat of elusive footwork and pace in the back 3 for the sizeable onlooking crowd..
The bonus point try was secured on the stroke of half time. Holdstock took a quick tap just outside the 22, skipped past one defender, offloaded to Thompson who had Andrew Kidd in support to finish the move. Thompson converted for a 24-3 half time score line.
The half time message after a positive first half display was clear. Keep the tempo high, play at pace to stretch the NAG, and be clinical when the chances arise.
However, the 2nd half started with NAG on the offensive - earning a few penalties - and with Old Gs already on a warning Kidd saw yellow for repetitive team offences at the breakdown.
This then saw a period of NAG pressure, with Old Gs camped in their own half, at times guilty of trying to attack from too deep, at times the NAG work at the breakdown preventing any continuity in the Old Gs play. The Old GS defence stood firm though, with the midweek message in training from Andy Miller firmly in their minds and the work rate consistently high.
All afternoon Old Gs had been dominant at the set piece, Joe Martin and Andrew Kidd ruling the skies at the lineout and the front row of Brett Buckingham, Lewis Moss and Matt Johnson keeping their opposite numbers under the cosh in the scrum.
It was from the set piece that the points tally was added to. The forwards set a rolling maul from a lineout just outside the NAG 22. The maul rumbled towards the line, stopped just short of the whitewash. However, Sam Baker peeled off the back to barge his way over. 29-3.
Another score soon followed. At a NAG scrum close to their own line, the Old Gs pack hammered forward, turning the ball over. Wilson found Holdstock who tipped to Richard Parish who piled through his opposite number for his first try of the season. Thompson converted and it was 36-3.
Straight form kick off Old Gs scored the try of the afternoon. With confidence flowing they swarmed forward, Andrew Kidd and Sam Baker combining with replacement Chris Daniels. After a phase, the interplay kept coming, with substitute centre Dave Boyer feeding Thompson and Langley who found the supporting Matt Johnson who coasted under the sticks after some free flowing rugby with still 5 further support runners who could have completed the score. Old Gs tails were up and Thompson converted to take the lead out to 43-3.
To their credit NAG refused to accept their fate, and flew back up field and back into the game. After having a period of sustained possession, there was one too many Old Gs infringements and Chris Daniels saw yellow from the match official. Despite more stubborn and energetic Old Gs defence, NAG were able to recycle to ball in the forwards, and a wide pass found their winger to finished well in the corner. An excellent conversion saw them hit double figures. 43-10.
Fittingly they last word was from Old Gs though and from man of the match Sam Baker. The impressive Kidd, still fleet of foot, danced his way past would be NAG tacklers. Despite being stopped short, he was able to free his hands to offload to the flying Baker who dived over for his second try of the afternoon. Thompson converted with the final act of the contest.
Final score Old Gravesendians 50 New Ash Green 10
This was another promising, enterprising performance from Old Gs. Despite never quite finding top gear the energetic, high tempo offloading game was too much for the visitors and Old Gs ran in some excellent tries. Sam Baker and Andrew Kidd were both excellent, thriving in the loose and the platform that the Old Gs front 5 created. A mention should be given to Martyn Langley who fitted in seamlessly on debut out wide.
The result gets Old Gs back on track as they sit 4th in Kent 1 after 4 games. Next week they face another tough test, travelling to the seemingly much improved Southwark Lancers, as they look to gather yet mote winning momentum and make their mark in the league campaign.