Medway 25 Beckenham 0 (London 1 South) 29th February

Saturday saw Medway take on fellow Kent side Beckenham RFC on a very windy afternoon. The clubs were also playing for the Jim Kennedy Memorial Trophy whose family were stalwarts of both clubs.  Beckenham came into this league game on the back of a fine win last week against Cobham. They won the toss and elected to play into the very strong breeze.  Medway kicked off and soon had the visitors pinned back. Chances came but handling errors from Medway and stout defence from Beckenham kept the visitors line intact.  On 11 minutes Medway secured good line out ball. Accurate throwing from Bill Sandison in the conditions saw Medway drive towards the line. Beckenham held the drive, the ball was moved wide, good handling put Orris in space on the outside and he beat the cover defence to score an unconverted try. 5-0.  Medway again camped themselves in the Beckenham half and pressed for another score but despite the conditions at their back Medway could not break the Beckenham defensive resolve. James Cleverly, Liam Markey and Henry Kenny particularly prominent for Beckenham.  With 22 minutes gone Medway won a scrum penalty on the 22m in front of the posts and Dan Harvey made no mistake to put the lead out to 8-0.  The final score of the first half came after 35 minutes. More pressure from Medway saw a penalty won and Harvey kicked into the corner. Sandison and Stubbington combined and Medway attacked short and then moved the ball wide for Orris in space who finished sharply for another unconverted try.  The teams went into half time with Medway leading 13-0 but given the conditions Beckenham were probably the happier of the two sides. The elements were such that just a two score lead looked very slender.

The Medway team needed to exert a lot more control than they did in the first half if they were to secure a victory. The Medway front five of Jack Nickalls, Bill Sandision, Alex O’ Leary, Christian Hechter and Joe Fernyhough started the second half strongly and were dominating their counterparts. This provided the platform for James Dance, Billy Humphrey, Tom Beaumont and Jordan Stubbington to up the tempo and play keep ball into the wind with good carries.   Despite the conditions Medway kept their visitors at bay. Good ball control and solid defence starved Beckenham of scoring opportunities.  Beckenham did have a chance after 20 minutes to narrow the gap. A Medway breakdown infringement saw Beckenham kick at goal but the ball slid by the wrong side of the post.  Beckenham kept their field position pressure up and were attacking on the Medway 22m when they moved the ball wide. Full back Sam Garofalo came into the defensive line anticipated and picked off the pass. He then ran the length of the field to score an unconverted try. 18-0.  The interception was a real body blow to Beckenham and this was compounded shortly after when the Medway scrum won a series of penalties and the influential Jamie Cleverly was sent to the sin bin.  A man short and with the Medway scrum dominating Beckenham were vulnerable. From the re-set scrum Medway took advantage of the Beckenham short handed defence and good handling from Antony Clement and Max Bullock put Orris away to complete his hatrick. Dan Harvey converted and Medway led 25-0 with the try bonus point secured.  Medway then brought on some fresh legs to see out the game. Luke Burns came on for Alfie Orris. Ciaran Slater replaced Bill Humphrey and Ross Cooley replaced Alex O’ Leary.  Beckenham showed good character and again pressed the Medway line with time running out. However turnovers and a couple of powerful runs from Burns and a great line out steal from Christian Hechter on the Medway 5m line ensured that Medway kept a clean sheet.

Beckenham’s performance belied their league position. They were a tough abrasive side who did very well particularly in the first half. The Medway coach Taff Gwilliam said “ Beckenham had an excellent first half, we did not have enough points on the board but we improved in the second half controlling the ball better into the strong wind and from a good scrum platform were able to deny Beckenham the chances they needed to overturn our slender first half lead” He added “ I think Jim Kennedy would have enjoyed that game”.