Gillingham Anchorians 1st XV (39) – Stanford 1st XV (33)
A desperate race late Friday afternoon to find a replacement game for Stanford 1st XV saw them traveling into Kent to take on Gillingham Anchorians. The start didn’t go well with Stanford not being able to retain good ball, they found themselves defending hard. Gillingham were attacking in waves but Stanford held back the attacks for 5 minutes when Gillingham worked the ball wide and ran in for their first try of the day.
Gillingham were the stronger attacking side and Stanford were throwing everything in to repel the home side. A 2nd try for Gillingham came on the 20th minute, with several good phases of play. To add to the setback Liam Morley was left on the floor after putting his body on line to try and stop Gillingham, Morley came off to recover bringing on Jamie Lake. As the game restarted Gillingham caught the Stanford defence flat footed and ran in their easiest try of the day.
Three tries down and Stanford started to play rugby with prolonged phases on the ball. As the forwards attacked in organised pods the backs joined in with probing runs pulling the Gillingham defence to the far right. Scrum Half Dominic McDonald orchestrated a quick switch to the attack and the ball was moved very fast out to winger Adam Lakey, making his 1st team debut, who ran in for Stanford’s 1st try. Gillingham answered back almost immediately with a strong power play but not after Stanford had held up two try attempts over the line.
It was Stanford who put points on the board next with a surging run from deep by Jamie Lake, taking Stanford deep into Gillingham’s half. The home side’s defence held strong turning over the ball but with Stanford charging forward they forced Gillingham into touch for a line out. Stanford forwards made good use of the line out possession, following up with strong attacking pods which they drove over the line, for Ryan Edgeway to touch down. Reid added the addition two points with ease.
Trailing by 12 at half time Stanford were re focused and knew that they now had a foot hold in the game. From the restart Kyle Munro caught the ball and charged his way through the on-coming Gillingham pack. Munro passed onto McDonald who in turn put Rickie Percival into space. McDonald was on hand again to recycle the ball out wide and Alistair MacDonald finished off a very fast flowing try. Reid made the conversation easy and Stanford had closed the points gap and were no in front.
Minutes later it looked like Stanford were going to add more points directly under the posts when the forwards and backs combined for some exciting quick play only for the last pass to be knocked on. The pressure of play was now definitely against the home side as Stanford kept Gillingham back in their half. With a scrum awarded to the home side just on the 22 metre line Samuel Herbert won the ball against the head and the ball was passed quickly along the line. Morley now back on stepped the opposition and then popped the ball to MacDonald who ran in for his second score of the day. Reid added the extra points extending the visitors lead.
Gillingham are a very well drill and strong side and despite now being behind they up their play. Gillingham had some very powerful runners and always had options to continue their moves forward. Stanford found themselves camped on their own line for 5 minutes again holding up another try attempt and throwing everything into their defence, however the patience of Gillingham and their well drilled forwards eventually made the pressure tell.
The battling defence had taken its toll on the Stanford players and whilst they were still fighting hard the home side had gained a second wind. Gillingham were still made to work hard but managed to run in two more unanswered tries. With the final whistle closing in it was Stanford who had the last points. The Stanford pack surged forward and Reid made a burst line break, hearing the shout from inside centre Jared Gounden, Reid floated a pass into Gounden’s path who came in at a wonderful angle and ran straight through a gap to score a well-deserved try. Reid once again added the points and the whistle went for full time.
Gillingham had been fantastic hosts and Stanford and battled hard both sides had contributed to an outstanding game, with the home side take the final score 39 – 33.
Stanford’s man of the match was given to inside centre Jared Gounden who was defensively outstanding, involved in the attacking plays and crowned of his day with the sweetest of running lines to score the final try.