Medway 27 London Cornish 20 (London 1 South) 15th February 2020

Saturday not only entertained old rivals London Cornish but also Storm Dennis. The match kicked off in strong winds which favoured a much improved London Cornish side in the first half. With two wins and a very narrow defeat to promotion chasing Cobham in their last three outings Medway knew they were in for a tough match and so it proved.  Medway received the ball and looked to retain possession playing into the elements. Good ball retention and structures allowed Medway to drive into the Cornish 22 and having narrowed the visitors defence the ball was moved wide for Orris to cut an excellent running line and score the unconverted try in the corner. 5-0.  On the re-start London Cornish managed to turn the ball over and after a couple of phases Medway infringed at the breakdown and the visitors scrum half moved the ball quickly, a kick in behind the Medway defence saw the Cornish winger win the race for the touchdown. The try was converted and Cornish went ahead 5-7.  With the elements behind them Cornish were dominating territory. Another penalty conceded by Medway was kicked successfully and the Cornish lead went out to 5-10.  London Cornish were in the ascendency but a yellow card to one of their powerful locks on 16 minutes hampered their ability to compete at the set piece.  Medway capitalised when following 3 consecutive penalties at a scrum on the London Cornish line they conceded a penalty try and the lead to Medway. 12-10.  With Cornish back to full strength they pinned Medway back and camped themselves in Medway’s 22. Time and again London Cornish hammered at the Medway line but the home defence held strong. All the visitors had to show for the territorial dominance was another penalty for offside. 12-13.  Medway were delighted and went into half time just a single point down having played against the elements and defended their line for long periods.

Medway now looked to capitalise on the elements at their back but that was slightly undone when on 49 minutes centre Antony Clement was judged to have been late in a tackle and sent to the sin bin.  On 51 minutes Medway were awarded a penalty just inside the visitors half and with a strong wind behind and down to 14 men Medway opted to kick and Dan Harvey was on target to put Medway ahead 15-13.  The lead however was short lived. With Medway down to 14 men London Cornish upped  the tempo looking to take advantage and did so deservedly. A penalty was taken quickly and moved by the visiting scrum half good support play was rewarded with a sharp try. The conversion was good and London Cornish led 15-20.  Medway introduced fresh legs with Ross Cooley and Ciaran Slater replacing young Jack Nickalls and the experienced Billy Humphrey both of whom had performed excellently.  On 60 minutes Medway narrowed the gap. The Medway scrum with Cooley, Bill Sandison and Alex O’ Leary dominating their counterparts infringements followed. Harvey was on target with the penalty from one such offence 18-20.  With Medway dominating the scrum and field position with good game management another penalty followed on 65 minutes. Harvey slotted once again for Medway to re-take the lead 21-20. He backed that up with yet another penalty for a high tackle 4 minutes later to make the score 24-20.  Medway thought they had sealed the game a few minutes later when as they were about to drive over the visitors line to score from a scrum they were adjudged to have sheered off and were penalised.  Cornish kept battling away and each time they got into the Medway half Medway held them turned the ball over and kicked them back deep into their own half.  On 74 minutes the London Cornish frustration came to head when they penalised for crossing when counter-attacking then marched back for speaking out of turn to the referee. A difficult kick became easier and Harvey made no mistake to increase the home lead to 27-20.  The game finished with Cornish pinned back in their 22m. To the credit of London Cornish this was a hard fought, tight affair and given the conditions both sides played an excellent game of rugby to entertain the hardy crowd.

Coach Taff Gwilliam said “….both coaches were pleased to get the game on and the teams did well in very trying conditions.” He added “We are delighted with the victory, Cornish are a much improved side with some quality players. We wish them well in their efforts to climb the league”