Old Gs Back to Winning Ways at Kings
By Matt Holdstock
Kings College Hospital 29 Old Gravesendians 50
After a run of defeats in Kent League 1, Old Gs finally got back to winning ways away at Kings College Hospital, with an impressive 8 try performance that showed signs of their earlier season form. Tries from Mat Wilson (2), Matt Thompson (2), Grant Roe, Matt Johnson, Chris Daniels and Chris Johnson were enough to overcome Kings, and send Old Gs back up to 4th in Kent 1.
Old Gs were reduced in number, with multiple injuries and unavailability meaning that the squad was stretched. However you wouldn’t have known in the opening exchanges as they were firmly on the front foot, throwing away the shackles of the slow starts that have hampered them in recent weeks.
They opened their try account early in the contest. Recycling the ball quickly in the Kings 22, Mat Wilson hit a tight line just off the shoulder of Mike Hodge, burst through a few tackles and managed to reach out over the line. Matt Thompson converted and Old Gs led 7-0.
Soon after the advantage was extended as Matt Thompson broke the line, and was hauled short at the 22. However he managed to find slight of hands to offload to the supporting Mat Wilson who set off on a mazy run and eventually get his second score of the afternoon. The conversion didn’t find the mark but Old Gs led 12-0 in the opening 10 minutes.
Despite Kings seemingly having superiority in the scrum, the front row of Ross Coleman, Matt Johnson and Brett Buckingham was battling hard, with Chris Daniels excellent at picking from the base to keep his team moving forward. The Old Gs set piece at the lineout was on excellent form though, Andy Morris ruling the skies to provide his side with the solid platform to attack.
Kings though had no intention of laying down or accepting the deficit, and soon bounced back. They brushed off a few tackles in midfield and chipped through for their winger to finish well in the corner, despite the best efforts of the Old Gs covering defence. 12-5.
Kings were no controlling the game, camped in the Old Gs 22, and on one occasion only prevented from drawing level by a last ditch covering tackle by Chris Daniels in the corner. However the pressure was telling and they soon found a further score, a rolling maul breaching the Old Gs rear-guard as the pack crashed over. 12-10
Old Gs confidence was not to be dented though, and aided by a Kings yellow card for a high tackle, got themselves back on the front foot and started to retain the ball once again. Having gone through multiple phases, Doug Wilson found Grant Roe on the short side, who threw a dummy, breezed through a gap and rounded the full back for a good individual score. Thompson added the extras and Old Gs led 19-10 at half time.
It was end to end stuff at the start of the second half, both sides having their chances but without capitalising on their respective moments of superiority. The next score was vital, with Old Gs looking to take firm control of the game, and Kings searching for a lifeline to get back in the contest. The score came Old Gs way…
Old Gs set a rolling maul from a lineout, a facet of their game that worked well all afternoon. Matt Thompson hit an arcing line that was found by Mike Hodge and he breezed through under the posts and converted his own score, 26-10
Soon after Kings received a second yellow card for another high tackle, with Old Gs Andy Morris levelling up the numbers of the field as he saw yellow for trip.
Kings took advantage of his absence as their fly half threw a ranging wide pass to their winger who crossed for their third try which once again they were unable to convert. Old Gs now led 26-15, with once again the next score crucial to the outcome and flow of the match.
Old Gs had no intention of letting their opponents back into the game though and roared back forward. Chris Johnson, who was excellent all afternoon in the back row, and his brother Matt combined to move their side close to the line. Chris Daniels was on hand to receive the final offload and dive over. The conversion from Thompson made it 33-15.
Another score was soon to follow. Mat Wilson stormed through the heart of the Kings defence. Skipper Frazer Barnes was on hand to receive the offload, and despite him not having the legs to reach the line, the ball was recycled well for Matt Johnson to score. 38-15.
Kings are not but a proud side though and soon hit back with their own bonus point try to reduce the gap to 38-22.
Chris Johnson then got in on the try scoring act, no more than his performance deserved, Forwards and backs combined through multiple phases, with Ross Coleman and Chris Daniels ploughing forward as Old Gs found their swagger. With the ball being moved quickly through the hands, and offloads finding willing runners, Chris Johnson was on hand to dart through a hole and finish well. The Thompson conversion took the lad out to 43-22.
With the game now secured, Old Gs now had the confidence flowing as saved their best score for last. Barnes powered up field, well supported by Andy Morris and Brett Buckingham who both kept the ball alive with deft offloads. Space was created in midfield and fly half Mike Hodge, who marshalled the troops excellently all afternoon, put Matt Thompson through a gap, and despite the support of Mat Wilson, finished well and converted his own score – as Old Gs raised their bat as they reached the half century,. 50-22.
The last word was to be with Kings though. Surprising the Old Gs defence and catching them off guard, they took a quick tap and barged over from close range. The conversion with the last kick of the game made the final score Kings College Hospital 29 Old Gravesendians 50.
This was the performance that Old Gs had been missing in recent fixtures, the confidence was flowing, the support play was to the fore and all 15 players were willing runners with ball in hand, combined with determined and resolute in defence. Everyone produced a good showing and contributed to the victory.
Chris Daniels was to the fore with his abrasive physical performance at number 8, with Matt Thompson and Mat Wilson a thorn in the side of Kings all afternoon. Ross Coleman produced one of his best showings in an Old Gs shirt as he battled away up front to provide the required platform for his side. However the stand out player was Chris Johnson, punching above his weight in both attack and defence in an unfamiliar position on the back row – energetic throughout and never stopped working for the Old Gs cause
Whilst this was no the perfect performance, it gets the season back on track after recent setbacks. This puts them in a good place going into the final 2 games of the season against Footscray and Whitstable.
Note should be made to Kings, who contributed fully to the contest. Always an enjoyable side to play against and playing the game in good spirit, Old Gs wish them well for the remainder of the season and look forward to locking horns with them once again next season.