Old Gs end the season in defeat at Whitstable
By Matt Holdstock
Old Gravesendians 12 Whitstable 27
Old Gs ended their season with a disappointing 27-12 defeat away at Whitstable on Saturday, in a fixture where they didn’t produce the required performance to overcome their dogged, determined hosts. Tries from Jordan Lynch and Chris Daniels were not enough to take control of game which saw their Kent 1 campaign end with a loss.
Despite Old Gs looking enterprising in the opening exchanges and looking to move the ball wide when they could, handling errors thwarted their progress and provided their hosts with a solid platform from which to attack. From a set scrum the Whitstable number 8 picked from the base. Despite being hauled down by the tireless Ash Bourne, they recycled the ball well, with their 10 sliding through a gap and finding his inside centre who crashed over. The conversion made it 0-7
The pressure and momentum remained with Whitstable, despite the best efforts of Bourne and Chris Daniels in defence who were working overtime for the Old Gs cause. Even though the work rate in defence was high, Old Gs were second best at the breakdown, conceding multiple penalties, with one of these seeing Whitstable miss at attempt at goal.
Old Gs were not helped by regular reshuffles on the pitch, with Matt Johnson off for a blood injury a couple of times in the contest, with Bourne moving to hooker, Grant Roe to full back and Chris Johnson onto the flank. This led to disorganisation in the Old Gs ranks and from a set scrum the hosts extended their advantage, executing a well worked 8, 9, 14 move on the short side as their winger flew over. The conversion slid wide but they now led 0-12.
Whilst Whitstable seemed to be in the ascendency in the pack, when Old Gs did create a solid platform they were making excellent gains with ball in hand out wide, with Chris Johnson, Matt Thompson and Ryan Lockyer to the fore in these efforts.
Gradually Old Gs were coming into the game, good ball retention seeing them pressurise the Whitstable defence that was now coughing up penalties. One of these saw the referee give a yellow card to their flanker and Old Gs now had numerical advantage in terms of players. This penalty was kicked to the corner and Old Gs set off towards the line with a rolling maul, Jordan Lynch eventually dotting down for his first 1st team try. The conversion slipped wide and Old Gs trailed 5-12 at the break.
The play was now largely with Old Gs as they started to string a few phases together. This saw them move be ball across the field, forwards and backs combining to good effect. Whitstable continued to attack the breakdown, slowing Old Gs down at source and enabling their defence to reorganise and stem the Old Gs attacks.
Suddenly though it clicked for Old Gs, Matt Thompson glided through a gap and found centre partner Will McArthur. With Chris Daniels in good support he linked the play together to release Chris Johnson who offloaded to Ryan Lockyer who was bundled into touch one yard out. But Old Gs were finally looking like a side that is towards the top end of Kent 1. From the resultant line out, Andy Morris soared high and stole possession, with the ball being recycled and Chris Daniels barging over. The conversion from Matt Thompson made it 12-12.
The wind was now firmly in Old Gs sails, looking energetic and up for the fight. A missed penalty prevented them from taking the lead. Unfortunately that was as good as it got as the house came crashing down with Whitstable held firm and came straight back into the game. They won a penalty under the Old Gs posts and took the three points to re take the lead, 12-15.
The Old Gs fight back that was hoped for never seemed to materialise, unable to set the platform or get the foothold in the game that was required to execute their expansive game plan. Looking to attack from deep in their own half, errors occurred which provided all the foundations that Whitstable needed to bring the game home. From a lineout they hammered into the heart of the Old Gs defence, switched the play and moved the ball wide to see their winger dive over. The conversion slid wide but Old Gs only had 10 minutes to overcome an 8 point deficit. 12-20.
As much as Old has searched for a way back into the game, aided by a strong lineout that functioned well throughout, they just couldn’t work themselves into the right areas of the pitch to build the momentum and pressure required to overcome a stubborn Whitstable defence. A missed penalty from long range could have got them back within one score - but they were left to force the issue which escalated the problems, going off pattern and creating errors that a now buoyed Whitstable were feeding off.
The final word belonged to the home side. Going through the phases their fly half attacked the line and brushed off tired Old Gs tackles to run under the posts and seal the victory. The conversion made it 12-27 to add a slightly flattering look to the scoreboard.
As much as Old Gs huffed and puffed in the remaining minutes, they couldn’t blow the Whitstable defensive house down, with one final turnover seeing the hosts kick the ball into touch to seal the victory.
Final score Old Gs 12 Whitstable 27.
This was a disappointing end to Old Gs season, in a game that they didn’t deserve to win. They were second best on the day to a buoyant Whitstable side, who overall were deserving of their victory. Old Gs never really put the pattern and required phase play together to overcome the Whitstable resistance and will be frustrated to end the season in defeat.
The loss sees Old Gs finish 5th in Kent 1, in a season where they have been in the top 3 for the majority of the season. Despite this they have shown throughout the year the potential that they have, with the injury crisis in the club and a couple of poor performances having thwarted a potential promotion campaign. They will look to recharge the batteries over the summer and go again for another assault on Kent 1 next season.
The game was the last for Andy Miller as coach at Old Gs and despite by defeat, his tenure at Old Gs can be considered a huge resounding success, taking the club from Kent 2 to the upper end of Kent 1. All at Old Gs wish him well for the future and thank him for all his commitment to the club and work he has undertaken with the players.
The game was also the last for Old Gs physio Lauren Judge, who is stepping down from the role. She has worked wonders on the treatment table, sticking players back together and ensuring the squad gets the best treatment possible as required.