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Cobham slip to narrow defeat at Gravesend in 2024 opener

Cobham’s 1st XV squad travelled to Gravesend looking to kick start the second half of the season with a win last weekend, but injuries to three players - two within the opening 15 minutes - played a part in denying them. Centre Johnny Holmes led the team out, celebrating his 50th cap, while Joe Wragg made his debut at full back.

Gravesend had been buoyed by a comprehensive victory against local rivals Medway (37-17) in their last match before Christmas and they exerted pressure on Cobham from the opening whistle, with all the play within the Cobham half. A loose pass finally gave the visitors possession, but the passage of play was interrupted when centre Alex O'Connor had to leave the pitch with concussion just five minutes after making his return. This provided Max Birtley with an opportunity to make his debut.

Gravesend continued to make incursions into the Cobham twenty-two and from the first of numerous penalties that both sides were to incur all afternoon, the subsequent lineout provided them with a scoring opportunity. The rolling maul to the line and subsequent touchdown from centre Jamie Fautley, successfully converted, put the hosts in front (7-0).

Captain Ryan Saunders and number eight Tom Davison looked to bring Cobham back into the game, only for the visitors to then lose their second player, this time it was prop Chris Lippiatt to a leg injury. Eventually Cobham were able to create their own pressure, which saw Davison go over to reduce the deficit (7-5).

Frequent penalties were now impacting the game as were loose passes by both sides, which in turn resulted in numerous scrums stemming the ability for either team to display their running game. Overall, Gravesend edged the first half and Cobham would need to up their game after the restart if they were to record a win.

After an initial incursion into the Gravesend half, the home side continued to exert pressure and Cobham lost flanker Louis Porter to a yellow card close to their own line. With their man advantage, the heavier home side pack drove over and Fautley added the extras (14-5).

Shortly thereafter Cobham lost their third player to injury, with Davison also suffering concussion that further disrupted the game plan. However, during their best passage of play, the visitors were able to draw closer with a well taken try in the corner from Saunders (14-10). That try restored confidence and had it not been for the stiff defence from Gravesend, Cobham would have broken the line again.

Having seen off the visitors' sustained period of pressure, the home side then extended their lead with a penalty (17-10). Cobham came close to a final score when Porter charged down a clearing kick, but the ball could not be secured, meaning the squad will now be looking to stop their losing streak against Beckenham at home this Saturday (13 January).

Cobham RFC 1st XV Squad:-

1. Chris Lippiatt

2. Dave Stewart

3. Luke Bliss

4. Felix Lowe

5. Joe Goddard

6. Ollie Fielding

7. Louis Porter

8. Tom Davison

9. Ryan Saunders (Capt.)

10. Will Stephen

11. Will Springett

12. Jonny Holmes

13. Alex O'Connor

14. Taylor Burnett

15. Joe Wagg

Substitutes:

16. Ryan Aujla

17. Olly Fox

18. Max Birtley

Scorers:

Tries: Davison, Saunders




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