Old Gs overcome Sheppey and the elements to secure a bonus point victory
By Matt Holdstock
Old Gravesendians 53 Sheppey 7
Old Gs secured victory away at Sheppey on Saturday, running up a 53-7 winning margin in brutal conditions for rugby - with freezing rain and howling wind seeing both sides struggle to develop a cohesive game plan. The stop start nature of the contest didn’t help, multiple stoppages meaning the players struggled to warm to proceedings due to the Baltic conditions on the Costa del Sheppey.
Despite the elements preventing them from playing their usual easy on the eye pattern of play, Old Gs controlled the majority of the contest, and ran in some nice tries. In the first half Matt Thompson glided over after beating 3-4 defenders. This was followed by an impressive score from Andrew Kidd who blazed over. Martyn Langley added the third when after multiple phases he darted over in the corner. With Chris Daniels and Ash Bourne now dominating in the loose Old Gs began to click into gear. A quick fire brace from full back Chris Johnson extended the advantage, as he thawed off by showing great pace out wide to finish well executed team moves.
Sheppey kept plugging away though and after multiple penalties conceded by Old Gs and a yellow card fro Kidd, they managed to burrow over the line from close range.
Half time 27-7 in Old Gs favour.
With both sets of players rushing back into the changing rooms at half time in attempt to find some warmth, Old Gs looked to come out reinvigorated in the second half to seal the contest.
They initially struggled against a revitalised Sheppey who hammered into the Old Gs defensive rear-guard, keeping play tight to the breakdown. Old Gs defence held firm, Brett Buckingham and Joe Martin leading the defensive efforts.
It was clear that Old Gs superiority lay in the wider channels, with Chris Johnson completing his hatrick after great support play by Langley and replacement Richard Parish. Parish then grabbed a try for himself, finishing well from half way after sidestepping the full back.
Andrew Kidd extended the advantage as he galloped over from a quick lineout. In truth the game was now a scrappy affair, with handling errors and mistakes turning the contest into an arm wrestle, with a lack of fluidity in both sides play.
Old Gs did have the final word though as Mike Hodge rolled back the years to cut a hard line and beat the last man to dive over to bring up the half century.
Final score Old Gs 53 Sheppey 7.
This wasn’t the best performance that you’ll see from Old Gs this season, but they were highly professional in getting the job done to leave with full points that keeps them 3rd in the Kent 1 table. At times they gelled to produce the interplay that has served them so well this season, in conditions that were brutal for both sides.
Credit to Sheppey, who despite their tough times recently, contributed fully to a game that was played in good spirits. Old Gs wish them well for the future as they look to retain their Kent 1 status.
Old Gs now break for the festive period, content with their work in the first half of season. They return on 5th January with a huge fixture at home to Gillingham.