Medway 23 Havant 29 (London 1 South) 25th January 2020

Priestfields on Saturday saw Medway entertain old Hampshire rivals Havant. Games between these two sides are always hard fought close affairs and in the end this match was no different.  Havant kicked off and Medway dominated the early possession and territory. Although going through the phases the Havant defence was solid and the first points of the game came from the boot of Dan Harvey following a breakdown infringement from the visitors. 3-0.  Havant’s reply came after 20 minutes. On one of their first forays into the Medway 22m Havant were clinical. An attacking scrum saw the ball fed wide to their winger who took his chance well in the corner. Visiting fly half Knight was on target and Havant led 3-7. The Havant score was somewhat against the run of play and Medway soon responded with another Harvey penalty to make the score 6-7.  If the first Havant try was against the run of the rest of the half saw them take control. On 27 minutes Medway conceded a try from a driving play near to their line. This was unconverted 6-12.  Havant followed that up with another try. A kick through behind the defensive line was not dealt with and Havant regathered the ball and scored the converted try to make the score 6-19.  Medway responded with another Harvey penalty following a crossing offence in front of their own posts. 9-19. That penalty was soon cancelled out when as Havant dominated and pressed the Medway line Orris was adjudged to have illegally prevented quick ball. Not only did Havant kick the resultant penalty but Alfie Orris was sent to the sin bin for 10 mins. 6-22.  Medway had a chance to narrow the score on the stroke of half time but they failed to execute at a 5m line out.

 Medway started the second half still down to 14 men but managed to keep the visitors at bay. Orris rejoined the fray and most of the second half thereafter belonged to Medway. Now dominating territory and possession, Medway, in an effort to force the score saw a loose pass in midfield intercepted. The Havant player raced away from inside his own half to score. Knight converted to put the Havant lead out to 9-29.  The young Medway side however did not give up. They showed application and character and gradually cut the visitors lead. On 50 minutes an excellently worked catch and drive line out was touched down by James Dance. Harvey converted. 16-29.  A scrum penalty in the 67th minutes saw James Dance tap and go, although stopped short of the line the ball was moved quickly and young 18 year old centre Max Bullock crashed over. Harvey again converted to put Medway within a single score of a remarkable comeback.  The final 10 minutes saw Medway press the Havant line. The Havant defence, as it was in the first half, held firm. Medway had three clear cut opportunities to steal the win but a combination of the visitors stout defence and a lack of accuracy ensured that at the end of the day Havant secured the win and outright lead at the top of the league table.

 Coach Taff Gwilliam said “..although disappointed to lose I cannot fault the effort and attitude of the team. They worked tirelessly and almost pulled off a great comeback” he added “credit to Havant their defence was top drawer and I am sure if they continue to play this way will secure the promotion they crave”.