On a chilly, wet and windy day Medway travelled to Surrey rivals Camberley in another top of the table clash. Having been beaten the previous week by Brighton the Medway team were under no illusions as to how important this fixture was. Medway were strengthened by the return of Bill Sandison, Alfie Orris and Sam Garofalo to the starting line up. The game kicked off and Camberley were soon on the front foot, two consecutive penalties from an over eager Medway defence provided the home side with the first score of the afternoon. The home fly half making no mistake with the penalty kick. 3-0 Medway then lost the influential Tom Beaumont temporarily with a cut to the head. On 13 minutes Medway responded when having kicked Camberley into their own 22m off the back of a penalty they worked a line out ploy which saw Lewis Stimpson crash over in the corner for a try. The conversion was missed but Medway led 3-5 and were competing well. With the game 20 minutes old Medway’s young No 8 Jordan Stubbington was forced from the field to be replaced by the returning Joe Fernyhough. Camberley were gaining good field position but Medway won crucial turnovers at the set piece to the frustration of the home side and their supporters. On 25 minutes from one such turnover Medway moved the ball wide and another of Medway’s youngsters, Zach Garratt, beat the front line defence and raced away. Camberley scrambled and managed to haul him down just short of the line but as they did so he managed to offload to the hardworking Amon Panikoula in support who drove over and scored. The conversion from Daniel Harvey was good and Medway led 3-12. Camberley were not second in the league without being a good side and they fought to get back into the game.They pressed the Medway line and went for a number of catch and drives but were thwarted initially then from another such effort Stimpson was adjudged to have illegally intervened and he received a yellow card. Camberley sensed blood and with a man down eventually drove over to score an unconverted try 8-12.
With Medway down to 14 men Camberley were eager to take advantage and they continued to take the game to their visitors. A clean break by their big 13 in midfield saw them score again. The conversion was missed but they took the lead 13-12. Camberley continued to attack and in the final moments of the half Medway were reduced to 13 players when scrum half Sam Garofalo was yellow carded for a deliberate knock on. Camberley’s fly half kicked the penalty and Medway went in at half time trailing by 16-12.
The second half kicked off and Camberley got what they wanted when a depleted Medway defensive line was breached and some good interplay saw the home side score a well taken converted try stretching their lead to 23-12. Medway for their part were soon back to a full complement and were starting to disrupt the home side’s set piece. The next 20 minutes saw both sides battle hard for supremacy but it was Medway who were growing in stature. Both sides made changes with Camberley making two changes in their pack. Medway themselves brought on Sam Sharp for Peter Walsh who had carried hard. Sharp and Wardzynski both worked hard for the rest of the game to hold their hard running opponents The home sides 11 point lead looked good until the 65th minutes when following a period of sustained possession and phases an opportunity occurred and Daniel Harvey put Zach Garratt away to score out wide. It was Harvey who added the extras to bring Medway within 4 points of the home side. Camberley came came back and were attacking in the Medway 22 when Medway won a penalty at the lineout. Indiscipline saw the home side marched back a further 10 metres and with Harvey kicking the ball deep into Camberley half the home side’s attempt to seal the game was stopped. From the resultant line out Medway drove initially then a number of short carries narrowed the home defence giving the opportunity for Medway to go wide. Good handling from Garofalo, Harvey, Redman and Wardzynski gave the opportunity for the speedy Alfie Orris to score brilliantly in the corner. Dan Harvey landed the touchline conversion and Medway were ahead 23-26. With 6 minutes left to play Camberley’s kick off failed to go 10m. Medway opted for a scrum. With Alex O’ Leary, Bill Sandison and Richard Petch dominating their opponents they drove the home sides pack back to win a penalty. Harvey kicked it to the corner. Sandison and Easton combined to secure possession and Medway closed the game out to seal a quality victory.
Coach Taff Gwilliam said ‘ This was a superb victory. Camberley have been scoring for fun at home and are a well organised classy side. We battled hard and showed real character. Down to 13 men, down 23-12 and still came back’ he added ‘getting some of our missing players back was a key factor. There is a long way to go, we are only half way through the season so still all to play for’