Tough Day at the Office
Barnes did just enough to win against a team with a strong pack under the first less than favourable conditions of the season. They didn’t outscore the opposition in the second half for only the second time this season.
Gravesend got the first attacks going and the first score came after pressure on a Barnes’ scum led to an easy penalty for Meddings at 11 minutes. Opposition errors allowed Gower to level the score after 18 minutes. From the restart Barnes kicked well into the other half then created pressure. From a line-out Gray, no. 10 for Gravesend, tried an up-and-under; Barnes dealt with this and swiftly got ball wide. Wing Van Buuren made yards and fed centre Dunlop who sped down the touchline then ran in under the posts to touch down early in the second quarter. Gower added. Barnes continued to have the better of territory then with play near halfway and Gravesend recycling possession opposition fly-half Williams-Davies was seen running away 40+ metres to the posts; this just after 28 minutes and Gower made it 17 - 3. Barnes continued to play in the other half then the visitors launched an up-and-under after a line-out which their opponents didn't deal with and Gravesend raced away to the other 22. From the breakdown their pack forced their way close to the line and after 4 recycles prop Cutting forced his way over near the posts at 38 minutes. Meddings added.
Gravesend started the second half well, winning two penalties. The second was kicked for a line-out just inside their opponents' 22. From there they kept ball tight then with the opposition expecting them to continue they sent ball wide twice to strongly advance. More wide play got them close to the line before the ball was recycled to prop Forsyth who reached over for the try at 5 minutes. The difficult conversion was wide. Gravesend had slightly the better of the next 20 minutes but there was no score during that time. The visitors’ forward advantage started to diminish and then they had two kicks charged down in close succession. Barnes got the ball at the second and recycled 5 times before winning an easily kickable penalty after 25 minutes and Gower obliged. More Barnes’ pressure led to their last score after flanker Smyth fielded a relieving kick and set up a platform for ball to be recycled out wide to wing Jones; he fed his hooker Alteirac who made very good yards before sending Dunlop to the line at 29 minutes. Gower added. Just before the end the visitors claimed a losing bonus point. Barnes took the ball back into the 22 and cleared to touch. The line-out was followed by a Diggers' penalty then a closer line-out, now 11 metres out. Of course they kept ball tight and this time won a man advantage for less than 10 minutes. Now they chose a set scrum and got another penalty 5 metres out and again chose a scrum. From a back row pickup Powdrell reached over for the touchdown at 36 minutes. Meddings added.
Gravesend had had the overall advantage in the set pieces and their pack was hard to deal with within 15 metres of the try line. Also their wide defence was generally very good at limiting the attacking potential of Barnes’ backs.
Very windy, overcast, some rain before k.o., otherwise dry and the pitch firm.