Admiration in defeat
- Sunday, 04 December 2016
The 1st XV lost 97-5 against promotion-chasing Tunbridge Wells yesterday but Head Coach Barry Bridgman said he has "nothing but admiration" for his "patched up side" who suffered their biggest defeat of the season so far writes Brian Seeney.
It wasn't the biggest score racked up so far in London 1 South this season - that dubious honour goes to Dover who lost 104-7 at Havant in week eight.
The writing was on the wall even before Gos had boarded the bus for the second long trip to Kent in successive weeks - only 17 players were travelling - and from as early as 30 seconds in, it got worse.
Tom Lewis, who had switched from full back to fly half after Rory Penfold had to drop out because of work commitments, took an accidental knock to the head and came off as a precaution.
That meant that Josh Gamblin, one of the two replacements, was straight into the action and in the second half vets' front row Alan Evans (40 next month and re-registered 24 hours beforehand) replaced vets' flanker Richard Daly who is three months short of his 45th birthday.
Gos battled bravely with a team made up of six front row players, a hooker on the wing and more players playing out of position than in. They were no match for the young, fit and talented Tunbridge Wells team who will be the promotion chase at the end of the season.
Within seconds of Lewis' departure, the home side had the first of their eight first half tries on three minutes, with the others coming in the 5th, 13th, 20th, 22nd, 28th, 31st and 34th minutes - three of them whilst the home side had a yellow card. Five were converted.
At 50-0, it had been a difficult first 40 minutes and as expected there was more to follow. Tunbridge Wells ran in a further seven tries in the 42nd, 48th, 55th, 58th, 62nd, 79th and 84th minutes with six converted.
Grant Hill (obscured) scores the only Gos try yesterday. Photo: Chris Roberts. More pictures in the Photo Gallery.
Immediately after Tunbridge Wells had received a second yellow card, Gos flanker Grant Hill took full advantage to score his side's only try in 71st minute in a man-of-the-match display deservedly confirmed post-match as the home side's pick of the Gos side.
"It is strange that we've just been beaten by the biggest margin for us this season and I guess you get numb to it after they've scored so many, but it doesn't really feel that bad," said Bridgman.
"It is (bad) obviously because it says it on the score sheet but again they battled right to the last minute again.
"Having said that for the first half an hour we were extremely poor and weren't at the races at all.
"But what do you expect from a team that is a patched up side? I do find it a little bit disappointing that we've have had two long journeys to away games and those two games were the worst for players putting in an appearance.
"But credit to the boys who did come today. There was lots of huff and puff, no giving up and quite a lot of tackling when we did get there, but getting there to tackle was a bit of a problem.
"I thought it would be a big score today but I wasn't sure whether it would be over the three figures.
"I think we deserved that try but we didn't deserve anymore because we didn't get into their 22 more than one or twice until late on in the second half.
"These players - some of them such as Richard (Daly) and Alan (Evans) who are vets' players - shouldn't have to be playing 1st XV rugby. But the club went a-calling and they rocked up to do their level best as did all the young players who come training every week and then play on the Saturday and end up coming back for more.
"We can't compete at this level with these players. We were playing players mostly from the 2nd and 3rd XVs against a top young side who executed their game plan extremely well.
"I have nothing but admiration for the players today who rocked up and have done their best on two long trips. They do that whether it is home or away, constantly losing and being hammered and they are still on the bus afterwards smiling. Their commitment and courage is great..."