Medway entertained newly promoted Horsham at Priestfields on Saturday. With both teams sharing the same playing record so far this season the match looked like it could be a close affair. It proved to be exactly that with the final scoreline not reflecting how tight the match was. The visitors started much the better of the two sides with powerful runs from their No 8 and winger providing most of the threat. Slack defence from Medway combined with good skills from Horsham saw them score two early tries one of which was converted to lead 12-0. Horsham then added a penalty to put themselves three scores clear at 15-0. The visitors should have scored again but a handling error on the Medway line saw a try go begging. As the half wore on Medway, having started slowly, started to dominate at the set piece and provide the platform for good possession. As Medway attacked on the back of this Horsham failed to release in the tackle in front of the posts. The home side declined the easy three points and went for the corner. A well executed catch and drive saw Medway get a foothold in the game when Bill Sandison touched down on the back the good forward work. Dan Harvey converted to make the score 7-15. The next score came from Horsham with a monster penalty kick. The home side were penalised for holding on at the breakdown on the half way line and Horsham opted to kick. The ball sailed through the posts to extend the visitors lead again to 7-18. With half time approaching and Medway playing with the wind at their back it was vital to secure another score. On 38 minutes good scrum ball saw the backs create space for Alfie Orris to slice through the opposition defence, which he did with aplomb, to score under the posts. Harvey again converted and Medway were down by just 14-18 at the break and back in the game.
Playing into the breeze in the second half, Medway, well led by Captain Tom Beaumont controlled the ball on the back of a dominant scrum with Jack Nickalls, Ross Cooley and Bill Sandison doing a great job. That dominance and improved control at the breakdown with Mo Pangarker Max Easton, Malcolm Cameron and Luke Burns carrying hard saw Medway prevent Horsham from adding to their first half tally. Harvey kicked two penalties with Medway dominating field position to take the lead 20-18. Although Medway were hit by the loss of scrum half James Dance, Sam Garofalo stepped in and endured the continuity was maintained. Two tries soon followed to secure the try bonus point through the influential Antony Clement and Conor Chalmers. Harvey converted one to bring the home sides tally to 32-18. Medway brought fresh legs on with Tom Sandison and Noah Hyde, making their 1st XV league debuts, and later joined by the strong running Adam Dady. Horsham did create chances but improved defence and the loss of their influential No 8 to a yellow card hampered their ability to add to their score.
The game finished with Medway victors by 32-18. It was a deserved victory but the match was much closer than the scoreline suggests as the visitors are a well organised and hard running team.
Coach Taff Gwilliam said “ We are delighted to have won and it shows the depth of our squad with so many experienced players missing through injury. The players who came in all did great” He added “ Horsham are a good side well organised side and will do well in the league”