Battling display from Wanderers is not enough to secure any points.
Selection was again difficult this week for Thanet with key players not available due to injury. Danny Clement found himself at inside centre rather than his regular berth at loose head and flanker Sam Taylor continued on the wing. Luke Tolley and young Gully Goodall, making a first league start, were at prop.
Wanderers started in confident style and Sam Rolfe at 10, rather than in his usual full back role, cleared long to take play into the home half. The Thanet backline was functioning smoothly with Charlie Knight and Reece Hougham combining well. An offside penalty was successfully converted by Rolfe from 25 metres after six minutes. At the other end a slip up from Wanderers full back Stewart Box was pounced on by the Gravesend winger to touch down and the conversion gave the hosts momentum and a 7.3 lead. Scrum half James Langridge slipped the home defence around the scrum but when caught after a nice break was held up. The home defence was strong but a nicely judged grubber kick through from Knight gained valuable metres. After twenty minutes Gravesend built on a penalty to half way with a converted try after an elusive run through Wanderers defence for 14.3. Wanderers conceded a penalty at a promising rolling maul when a player joined it incorrectly. As half time neared Thanet mounted an attack that moved swiftly across the field from right to left with Rolfe carrying well before Charlie Knight sped through the home defence for a timely try which Rolfe converted. In the dying moments of the half Gravesend were offside and Rolfe found a good touch. The home side soon infringed again at a scrum but unusually Rolfe pulled his kick left leaving the half time score at 14.10. Wanderers supporters would have been satisfied with the overall performance in the first half. The pack had competed well against bigger opponents and despite the unfamiliar line up of the backs they had defended strongly and shown enterprise in attack.
Jake Webster and Ryan Copp replaced Tolley and Box for the second half. A promising start was halted when another costly penalty was conceded, this time for hands in the ruck. Possession was hard to come by as the hosts laid siege to the Thanet line. Wanderers defence was impressive as they repelled a series of attacks, living dangerously on occasion, but failing to apply sustained pressure at the other end. The packs were having a real tussle with Brett Scott giving another master class in tackling. With around fifteen minutes remaining Gravesend finally broke through the Thanet defensive line for a third try which was converted for a 21,10 lead. Jake Mcgee replaced Dave Lemon with ten minutes remaining but the game was ebbing away from Thanet and it was Gravesend who scored an unconverted try wide left in the final play to secure a bonus point win.
This was a welcome bounce back by the Wanderers team after the lethargic showing against Crowborough last week. Everyone made a contribution to a real team effort with Clement again showing his versatility running straight and defending well. Scrum half Langridge had a much improved match providing a quicker confident service and tackling well above his weight. In the pack eighteen years old University of Exeter student Goodall gave another very promising performance playing the whole match at tight head. The intensity of the Wanderers defensive performance was good to see. Brett Scott was outstanding leading by fine example he helped keep the line secure over much of the second half racking up a high tackle count in the number seven open side shirt. He was Wanderers man of the match.
There is no game for the first XV next Saturday. They return to action on the 19th October with a visit from near neighbours Dover (kick off 3PM) who have also had an uncertain start to the season with, like Wanderers, just a single win from the opening four matches. The selection committee will hope for a wider pool of fit players to make their selection from.
SQUAD; Tolley,(Webster), Wakefield (C.), Goodall, Orton, Letts, Riddell-Bloomfield, Scott, Lemon,(Mcgee), Langridge, Rolfe, Taylor, Clement, Knight, Hougham, Box (Copp)