26 February 2023
The Club Vets narrowly came second in their first match of 2023, at Gravesendians on Sunday. Having led 5-15 at half time, the Buccs toiled in the final quarter against a spirited home side, who made good use of the alpine gradient behind them in the second half, and who scored a try with the last play of the game to win 26-20.
The warm-up was conducted in typically professional fashion, with very few players turning up after the game had kicked off, and only one Buccaneer needing to return home to fetch their boots, which they had forgotten to pack. It was a bright start for the Club, with the scrum gaining an early dominance which they maintained for the entirety of the match, and after 10 minutes or so a line break by centre Sim Obonyo created the space for Jonny Moore to canter over the tryline and open the scoring. The Blackheath lead lasted for approximately 37 seconds, however, as the restart wasn’t dealt with cleanly, possession turned over, and the ball grubbered through behind the line for Gravesendians’ right wing to track down, gather and score in the corner. Though the Club veterans have rarely been described as having a mean streak, halfbacks Nick Thomas and Nik Dinning did their best to confound expectations; Thomas by picking a fight with literally the first person he saw after emerging from a ruck, and Dinning by brutally, callously, and (probably) with malice aforethought, punting a penalty in to the face of a vulnerable female spectator. Once the various uproars had died down, the game settled in the middle third of the pitch, with only Blackheath threatening to score. Several Club scrums near the Gravesendians tryline resulted in a chance for fullback Zac Bainbridge to bash over the line, which he duly took. Following the restart, a Bainbridge kick downfield was gathered by Moore, who raced away to score his second and the Buccaneers third.
The second half started cagily, with the home side enjoying more possession and good field position, and the Club weathering some early pressure well in the third quarter, before Moore sealed his hat-trick and looked to have put the game to bed, breaking away from deep in Blackheath territory and running clear. This seemed to spur Gravesendians, however, with both wingers becoming more prominent in the match and the hard-carrying number 8 found his runs made more ground as the game progressed. More success was had with the kick through, as again, the right wing snapped up a tricky kick behind the Club line. He ran in a good score which was converted, and then compounded, as after the kickoff some slick hands and suspect tackling saw the home side score a second try in as many minutes. The Buccaneers were on the ropes and down to 14 men for a high tackle, as home support and a home slope told, and with time almost expired, Gravesendians broke away from a scrum in midfield to dot down the winning score.
That may be the end of the season for the Buccaneers, but with some experienced Bandits nearing the appropriate age, hopes are high for next season. Please do get in touch if you are over 35 (or near enough) and fancy a run around.