Medway 23 Thurrock 8 (London 1 South) 21st December 2019

On a wet and windy day at Priestfields Medway entertained Essex rivals Thurrock. The visitors have been in good form recently with three fine wins and scoring well over a 100 points. For their part Medway were keen to bounce back after the narrowest of defeats to league leaders Westcombe Park last week.  Medway’s pre-match preparations were hampered when top try scorer Alfie Orris was forced to withdraw with an ankle problem. Young Zachary Garratt replaced him and did a sterling job throughout the game.  The home side played against the elements in the first half but despite this were on the score board first.  The home side won a penalty from the set piece and the referee allowed the game to continue under advantage and Dan Harvey put a excellent kick in behind the home defence for Conor Chalmers to run onto and score in the corner. Harvey landed a great conversion with the ball bouncing over off both post and crossbar. 7-0.  Medway failed to deal with the re-start and Thurrock won a penalty at the breakdown. They kicked for the corner and although their catch and drive was stopped they still managed to score from close range. The conversion was missed. 7-5.  On 17 minutes with Thurrock, enjoying territorial advantage with the wind at their backs, forced Medway to concede a penalty. The kick was successful and the visitors led 7-8.  Medway responded on 24 minutes when they won a penalty at the scrum. Jack Nickalls, Bill Sandison and Ross Colley were dominating their counterparts. Harvey was on target and Medway took the lead 10-8.  Medway re-gathered the ball from the re-start and kept control against the elements. Going through multiple phases with Tom Beaumont, Mo Pangarker, Dan Huntley, Jordan Stubbington and Max Easton all carrying hard backed up by Antony Clement and Max Bullock they worked their way up the pitch. Thurrock were penalised in front of their posts for not releasing in the tackle. Harvey was accurate as ever. 13-8.  Medway went into half time with no further score. Medway replaced Jordan Stubbington with young Christian Hechter for the start of the second half.

The half saw Medway dominate field position and the visitors cause was not helped when after 48 minutes their Blindside flanker was yellow carded for a no arms tackle.  Medway added to their points tally 3 minutes later with another Harvey penalty for offside at a line out. 16-8.  Medway were soon on the attack again after the re-start. Another scrum infringement by Thurrock saw James Dance take a quick tap and go. He got behind the visitors defence and good support won quick ball. The visitors could not get their defence set for the next few phases and Captain Tom Beaumont eventually burst through to score the try. Harvey converted. 23-8.  Sam Garofalo came on replacing Rhys Burns who had done a sterling job for the side.  With 25 minutes still to play Medway were keen to add to their score but credit to Thurrock they never gave up. They battled hard at the breakdown and carried robustly in an effort to get back into the game.  When they were camped back on their own line under pressure Medway won three scrum penalties in a row. They were thwarted illegally and the home side opted for the scrum each time. Thurrock eventually held out with the home crowd disappointed that a penalty try was not awarded.  To the credit of Thurrock they defended their line well eventually forcing Medway into touch and clearing their lines.  On 65 minutes with Medway still pressing Thurrock suffered another yellow card for a late tackle on Chalmers. Medway then introduced Ciaran Slater replacing the tiring Dan Huntley. Huntley playing his first full game in three months following return from injury.  Despite a lot of Medway pressure as the clock wound down Thurrock held out and thwarted the home sides endeavour for a bonus point.  The match was played in a good spirit by both sides in what were very difficult conditions.

Coach Taff Gwilliam said ” Thurrock are well coached and tough side to play. We are pleased to have bounced back after last week’s defeat especially against such robust team like Thurrock”