Another tough day at the office
Early attack then well-controlled defence proves to be just enough against heavy opposition.
The visitors kicked off, regained, recycled 4 times to get the first penalty. They ran this to get another and kicked this for the points at 1 minute. The rest of the game was a draw. Lots of kicks followed the restart; early on Barnes stole the first line-out then later, when Gravesend cleared to touch, they took a quick one. Williams-Davies made a break, centre Butler made yards then put Tiarks OR PREECE to the line inside 5 minutes. Gower added from wide-out. An error at the restart got Gravesend's first attack going. Maintaining most of the possession they got the second penalty. Meddings missed from long range after 9 minutes. They got the third penalty soon after the 22 drop-out and kicked for a line-out, 5 metres out. The defence held but conceded another penalty and the visitors' captain was spoken to. From the next line-out regular try scoring prop Cutting forced his way over after 14 minutes. The difficult conversion was wide. Gravesend threw one line-out not-straight and had another stolen by the visitors. These helped Barnes to sustain their third attack and come away with another 3 points at the start of the second quarter. The visitors were soon back in the other half; Gravesend forced them back but advantage at scrums and a penalty for a high tackle got Barnes going forward again. They kicked for a line-out 11 metres out and the pack drove from there. They were stopped at the line then ball was recycled close to no. 8 Taylor who got over at the half hour. Gower added for a 15 point lead.
Not long after the restart the visitors were penalised for not releasing near halfway. Gravesend's forwards ran this and made good yards; ball was then sent wide and Meddings ran down the touch line skinning the defence to score his team's first try within 3 minutes of the restart. Meddings missed the not-difficult conversion. Bevan for Barnes regained the restart and Gravesend were soon penalised. The kick took the visitors to their line-out 11 metres out. From that they recycled well 6 times before being awarded a penalty at the 22 in centre field which Gower converted after 38 minutes. The visitors did not secure the restart but were awarded a scrum 12 metres from their own line. Gravesend took this against the head but then Barnes got the next put-in 6 metres out. Again this was taken against the head. Gravesend kept ball tight to get a penalty and a forward advantage for 10 minutes. This was 7 metres out and the penalty was run for the other Prop Forsyth to score at 42 minutes. Meddings added before the halftime whistle to make the score 17 - 23. Earlier in the half Barnes had been pushing Gravesend's scrum back.
Gravesend continued strongly after the second half restart; after two previous penalties in succession Meddings kicked the third for the points after 3 minutes. The rest of the half would be a 3-all draw. Barnes regained their restart and put together a very good sequence of phases before being penalised just outside the opposition 22 for not releasing. Gravesend kicked to touch at halfway then Barnes were restored to 15 men. They soon lost their play-maker to the bin after Gravesend advanced from their line-out and Meddings levelled the scores at 11 minutes. After the restart and 3 more kicks Gravesend were penalised for not releasing. After the line-out, Barnes' maul was adjudged "truck-and-trailer". However they pushed back the opposition scrum to get a penalty which they kicked for a line-out 6 metres out. Keeping ball tight, another penalty got them another line-out 5 metres out but an error at that gave the defence the put-in. The Ref. made an error at that scrum, penalising Barnes and gave Gravesend 10 more metres. Gravesend's kick didn't find touch; Barnes launched an-up-and-under which was dealt with but Gravesend were penalised for not releasing after 4 recycles. The visitors ran the penalty and got another in centre field after 3 recycles with a blind-side break in between. Gower kicked for the last score at the start of the final quarter.
Gravesend's fullback McMurtrie made a break out wide after Barnes kicked back the restart. Good recycling and powerful runs from their forwards got them to 3 metres out then a penalty which they chose to go for the 3 points but this seemingly not-difficult kick missed. Barnes were now back to 15 men again. An error after the 22 drop-out got possession for Barnes then a penalty. This was kicked for a line-out but Gravesend stole this and attacked strongly again. The visitors forced a turnover, recycled and kicked to touch into the other half. Gravesend kept ball in hand before trying an up-and-under. Barnes dealt with this then a loose pass returned possession to the home side. After 2 recycles Barnes counter-rucked to regain and advance before the defence forced an error 10 metres out. A penalty got Gravesend to halfway where they threw a line-out not straight. A penalty at the scrum got the visitors to their line-out back at the opposition 22. Held by good defence, after 6 recycles they tried a chip through the line. Gravesend got the next put-in then a penalty at that which the Ref. got wrong again. This was kicked for a line-out into the other half that Barnes stole and kicked back into the opposition 22. Gravesend's pack recycled and retained well to work their way back into the other half where the defence got the put-in then a penalty at that. This was kicked to touch but not far then Barnes' pack drove well before a blind-side break got them another penalty. This was kicked for a line-out 10 metres out. The drive was held not long before the final whistle.
With ball in hand Gravesend's much heavier forwards were very difficult to stop but they were stopped many times. Barnes struggled to attack in their preferred way but their early points were just enough added to the opposition failure with the boot. Conditions: bright with some winder making the temperature colder. The pitch dry but still a bit soft.