Gillingham Anchorians v Old Dunstonians London & SE Division -London 3 South East, 14:30 16th Nov 2019

On a cold and dark, but dry November day, Anchs welcomed Old Dunstonians (“ODs”) to Darland Avenue hoping to return to winning ways in London SE 3. Anchs certainly started well, moving the ball to the wings but were playing the game in their own half. Against the run of play, the visitors opened the scoring with some neat inter-passing down the left wing, finished with a try in the corner. On a day where kicking would prove decisive the conversion was missed.


Front rowers Dan Perry and Will Rush were making good ground in attack and Anchs continued to move the ball. Unfortunately, the attack proved ineffective due to a combination of inaccurate passing at times, and the line-speed shown by the Bromley defence. Anchs lost winger Dan Powley to injury and he was replaced by Matt Callow.
The Anchs pack were winning good ball at the set pieces and after a penalty kick to the corner they won the lineout and were then unlucky not to score following a powerful scrum on the ODs line. For the remainder of the first half, Anchs struggled to break the ODs defensive line, which was always very close to the offside line but proved very
effective. Just before half time, following a defensive kick from Anchs 22, ODs
mounted an attack down the right hand touchline which finished with an inside pass leading to a score in the corner which again went unconverted to give ODs a 0 -10 half time lead. With Anchs turning to play down the slope in the second half, things
didn’t immediately go according to plan. Brad Ford chipped the ball into the corner and ODs won the chase to force the ball. As Anchs switched off, ODs took a quick 22m dropout and went the length of the field and scored in the top corner. Fortunately for Anchs, the conversion was missed meaning they faced a 15 point deficit with most of the second half remaining.

Anchs spent a period of time on attack, and when ODs were shown a yellow card, Anchs went close to scoring but were penalised for holding the ball in the ruck, close to their opponents try line. Not to be deterred they continued to move the ball and Ryan Lehane found himself with 2 defenders to beat which he did to give Anchs their first try, duly
converted by Ollie Woodward. Captain Mark Barfoot continued to lead the charge with a number of storming runs and some well constructed open rugby culminated in Will
Rush making a run out wide to go over for a try which was again converted to put Anchs within one point of ODs lead. Anchs were dominating the scrums and the forwards were also making inroads into the tiring ODs defence. The visitors received a second yellow card for a high tackle and Ollie Woodward converted the penalty to give Anchs a slender two point lead.
ODs immediately looked to get back into the game but rather than play for position Anchs continued to move the ball in their own half. As the darkness descended, ODs had an opportunity to retake the lead but the penalty hit the post and Anchs were able to clear the ball. Again, running from defence Oscar Wells found himself in the clear but he was unable to find his support and ODs were able to recover the ball. ODs put in one
final attack when they kicked to the corner but they failed to crack the Anchs defence at the lineout. Anchs were awarded a free kick, which they kicked to the safety of the touchline to hang on for a hard-fought win.
Anchs will be pleased that they were able to come back from 15 points down, but will no doubt be disappointed with another slow start and the fact that they put themselves under pressure at the end, rather than clearing their lines and playing the game in their opponents half.

Next week sees Anchs face a difficult away game against top side Ashford, who have continued their dominant form of last season and remain unbeaten in London SE 3.

By Ian Brenton

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