Imperious Rowland in a Commanding Display from Fullback
By Dominic Mitchell
Constant rain, both in the build-up and during the match, put pay to any sort of expansive rugby in this tight and niggly affair.
Gravesend III arrived with a big pack and looked a side perfectly suited to the conditions and sure enough, their game plan was very much to keep it up the jumper. When they got it going, it was very effective, as was their driving maul from every lineout which 'Bridge too often struggled to contain.
The game was won in the backs however as Gravesend's defensive line was unable to deal with the pace play that 'Bridge like to put down with Sam Tan, Harry Warne and Nick Tingley causing all sorts of chaos, not to mention Bobby Weaver darting around the fringes, shrugging off tacklers. But for so many split balls in crucial positions, the scoreline could have been a lot higher.
The nature of the game was to be set when the first card of the afternoon was brandished by the referee after about 90 seconds play at the first line out. Gravesend's otherwise very good and very savvy blindside flanker took offence to 'Bridges maul defence a levelled a right hook at Gary Patterson's face.
A man short for ten minutes, Gravesend continued to weather the Edenbridge attack until Sam Tan found a way to breach the Black and White line for 'Bridge's opening score. 5-0 to the home team with the conversion missed.
All of the rugby continued to play out in the Gravesend half with the ball only finding its way into Edenbridge territory via long-range relieving clearance kicks. Man of the Match Dan Rowland was in great form at the back fielding everything Gravesend fired at him and running it back with interest.
Despite the territory, 'Bridge struggled to add to their score. The only other points of the half coming from a penalty by Lee Roberts to leave things at 8-0 at halftime.
The second half saw 'Bridge needing to put in much more of a defensive shift as Gravesend got their pick and go game up to speed. 'Bridge's discipline also waned and saw the referee repeatedly award penalty after penalty in the visitors' favour. The string of infringements eventually saw captain Lee Roberts sent to the bin under a team yellow card for repeated offsides at the breakdown.
'Bridge were not to be at a numerical disadvantage for long however as the second Gravesend player of the afternoon was given a ten-minute breather for a deliberate knock-on which thwarted a promising looking Edenbridge attack.
'Bridge were to score towards the end of the game with Chris Mitchell going over for his first of the season from close range following some good quick play from a tap and run penalty.
The game gradually petered out in the drizzle and the welcome full-time whistle came with 'Bridge 15-0 on top.