Lots more of "Whatever ..."
For "Whatever" see Gravesend reporter's headline for the reverse fixture
Traffic Problems on the M25 meant that this report starts about 13 minutes into the game. Before my arrival Gravesend had kicked off with the advantage of the fairly strong wind and the visitors had held out the first attack and got back into the opposition half. When I arrived I found Barnes preparing for their attacking 5 metre scrum, close to the left hand touchline. From this they soon released to their backs and the defence forced an error at the first tackle to get their put-in 9 metres out. In the tunnel the ball bobbled towards Barnes and they hooked it and kept the ball in and advanced to less than 5 metres out then the ball was sent wide to left wing Cottenden who ran to the line close to touch under defence pressure at 16 minutes and after discussion between the Ref. and his assistant the try was awarded. The conversion was wide.
Three kicks followed the restart resulting in a Gravesend line-out 14 metres into the opposition half. From that they varied their recycling between backs and forwards and advanced to get a penalty for tackle without arms 18 metres out in centre field at the end of the first quarter. Fly-half Berthelsen kicked the points. Gravesend kicked back the restart; fullback Alkin had a good run then lock Collins made a break to get the visitors well into the other half before an error gave Gravesend a scrum inside their 22. Barnes wheeled that and came away with the ball; they recycled twice to get a penalty 17 metres out near centre field after 24 minutes. O’Toole kicked the points. The visitors ran the restart ball wide before clearing to touch 14 metres inside their half. From the line-out Gravesend recycled 4 times to get a penalty 30 metres out in centre field at 27 minutes and Berthelsen took the points.
Gravesend secured the restart, recycled twice before kicking; Barnes chipped the ball and dispossessed and opposition player. Centre Hersey made yards before O’Toole kicked ahead; Gravesend went wide and advanced before passing forward. They returned a Barnes' up-and-under with a very good chip though to touch just 5 metres from the visitors' line. Barnes kept the ball in a drive from the line-out then broke blind with Cottenden making yards. Gravesend came away with the ball and then put together a very good series of 5 phases before a forward dropped a pass at centre giving Barnes a put-in 16 metres out. After a few metres advance and 2 recycles they cleared to touch 30 metres out. From this line-out Gravesend set up a forward drive and when this broke up they recycled once before the defence forced an error. The visitors kept the ball in and drove the opposition pack back to get a penalty 29 metres out. This got them a line-out just past halfway and again they set up a drive that went all the way to the opposition 22. The ball was released wide then recycled 3 times to get a penalty 13 metres out and a forward advantage for 10 minutes after 37 minutes. They chose a scrum and kept the ball in advancing to the line where no. 8 Popham went down on the ball. O’Toole added for a 9 point lead before the whistle.
Gravesend secured the second half restart and went wide before kicking then they forced a turnover. After Gravesend twice tried wide ball, at the next tackle Barnes forced an error to get a put-in 7 metres into the opposition half. Again they kept the ball in the scrum but this time they were penalised. Gravesend ran the ball at centre but after recycling once they lost possession and opposition outside centre Jones was seen racing away to the line. He was caught 10 metres out but Hersey, from well behind, got the ball to go over at the posts inside 3 minutes. O’Toole converted. The visitors were penalised just after the restart and Gravesend kicked for a line-out just outside the 22. Their pack tried a drive but this broke up before going down; they then went wide and got another line-out at the other side after having advanced one metre. It was becoming very hard to understand the way that Gravesend wanted to play this game. From this line-out they recycled 3 times before the defence forced an error and wing Greenwood ran from his 22 to touch down after 7 minutes, obviously too tired to run in to the posts. The conversion was wide.
Gravesend regained from their restart and went wide then passed to into touch 28 metres from the opposition line. The visitors' pack kept the ball in for a drive and advanced then broke blind. Flanker Smyth made yards before the ball was sent wide to get them a penalty 28 metres from the opposition line. This was kicked for a line-out 14 metres out before it was thrown not-straight. From the scrum Gravesend recycled 5 times before Berthelsen tried to go himself. After his half-break Barnes forced a turnover and put the ball through several hands before O’Toole touched down wide-out at 13 minutes. The Ref. consulted his assistant before awarding the try. The conversion just missed. Again Gravesend regained from their high restart then kept ball close recycling twice. When they released wide the ball was dropped then hacked on by Barnes. Greenwood raced after it and took it to the corner; this 2¼ minutes after the previous try. The conversion was wide
This time the visitors secured the restart and got a penalty as their scrumhalf was launching an up-and-under. They kicked for a line-out 4 metres into the other half then soon went wide. They advanced somewhat before the defence got a put-in 20 metres inside their half. Now Gravesend put together their second very good sequence of phases; this time recycling 13 times before being turned over. The 1966-9 captain's namesake at scrumhalf made a break close to the forwards then Hersey sent flanker Williams away on a strong run. This resulted in a scrum for the defence 10 metres from their own line. They advanced from this and recycled twice before O’Toole tried an intercept when the ball was released. He knocked on and was penalised. Gravesend ran the ball from their 22 and advanced recycling 6 times before dropping 5 metres into the other half. After the scrum Franklin made a break before the visitors were penalised 7 metres into the opposition half. The kick took Gravesend to their line-out 7 metres into the other half. After the line-out they kept ball tight recycling 6 times and advancing to just outside the 22 where they were turned over then penalised. The kick took Barnes to a line-out still 5 metres inside their half. This was thrown past the end and the opposition got it. Gravesend advanced keeping the ball tight but lost when releasing wider. Advantage was played and the visitors soon went wide. A chip through was regained and a few passes sent Greenwood to the line not far from the posts at 27 minutes. O’Toole's conversion flew like lead balloon. Gravesend got the ball soon after the restart and recycled 3 times before the visitors got a penalty 25 metres from their own line. The 1966-9 captain's namesake made a very good break and send Greenwood off for his fourth 3 minutes after the previous try. This time O’Toole's conversion, harder than the previous one, went through the posts.
Gravesend knocked on trying to regain their restart. After the scrum the visitors went wide; there were 2 turnovers then they went wide again before O’Toole kicked diagonally into the opposition 22. Gravesend ran the ball back well and advanced out wide before Berthelsen sold a dummy then passed around a tackler to send flanker Atkins to the posts after 33 minutes. Berthelsen added. The restart bounced into touch just outside the opposition 22. After the line-out Gravesend advanced keeping the ball in then released to centre and advanced further before the defence forced an error to get a scrum 14 metres into the opposition half. Cottenden, fed up with all the tries going to Greenwood, came off his wing inside O’Toole, on a perfect diagonal line onto an inside pass to score wide-out on the right wing before 37 minutes. The conversion was wide. After the restart Jones had a run before Hersey set Alkin off on a very good one. O’Toole then sent hooker Crossley going forward; there was more training-ground slick interpassing before a chip through to the opposition 22 and Gravesend were glad just to put the ball into touch for the whistle.
Bright (99% blue sky, dry, cool because of wind varying from quite strong to nothing; the pitch fairly firm.