Medway Extra 37 Sevenoaks (II) 22 (Invicta 1) – 14th April 2018

The Extras welcomed top of the table Sevenoaks to a warm and sunny Priestfields keen to sign off with a win for their final home game of the season.

Medway started brightly spending the first five minutes camped in the Sevenoaks half with both forwards and backs getting into the game early. The pressure on the Sevenoaks defence was slowly increasing and a number of early penalties saw Medway move into the twenty two and secure a line out ten yards out. The forwards secured possession to set up a drive to the line which the Sevenoaks defence did well to stop but as the ball was sent along the back line full back Zach Garratt took the final pass at pace to score the first try of the game. A successful Ford conversion saw Sevenoaks restart at 7 – 0 down and yet again Medway let their opponents straight back into it as they conceded a number of needless penalties to gift them possession and territory. A Sevenoaks line out saw them execute a good catch and drive which Medway failed to stop and the scores were level at 7 – 7. A successful penalty kick from Ford saw Medway regain the lead which was extended five minutes later as Medway worked hard to hold up a Sevenoaks maul. The forwards were now in the groove securing the ball with some ease at the subsequent scrum before quick ball along the backs again found Garratt timing his run into the line perfectly to take the ball and beat the Sevenoaks full back with some excellent footwork before touching down for another converted try and a 17 – 7 scoreline. Sevenoaks restarted and soon reduced the lead to 17 – 10 when yet another penalty in front of the posts gifted them points. Medway came straight back on the attack with a great break from winger Bobby Ellis which saw Sevenoaks straying offside at the subsequent ruck giving Ford the opportunity to close the first half with a simple kick and a 20 – 10 lead.

Medway extended their lead straight from the restart as winger Matt Brightman out jumped the Sevenoaks second row to secure the ball and make ten yards before setting up the ruck. The ball was recycled along the back line at real pace before centre Henry Hall took the final pass, beat two defenders and finished what was an excellent piece of fast, attacking rugby. Sevenoaks restarted 25 – 10 down and began to build some pressure resulting in Medway losing possession as they knocked on at a ruck. Sevenoaks were in a good attacking position but Medway’s forwards again delivered when it mattered winning the ball against the head and giving the backs the ball to run with. Good handling along the line saw Garratt again time his run perfectly taking the ball and accelerating away at real pace to score his third try under the posts. A successful conversion saw Medway extend the lead to 32 – 10 but Sevenoaks continued to work hard aided by yet another string of Medway penalties and were soon deep in Medway’s twenty two where yet another well executed line out catch and drive saw them being awarded a penalty try to close the gap to 32 – 17. Any nerves that Medway had were soon calmed however when Sevenoaks lost possession on Medway’s ten metre line and, with quick ball out right, Garratt capped a very good afternoon as he carved through the Sevenoaks defence to run in his fourth try of the game and confirm a well deserved Man of the Match performance. At 37 – 17 down Sevenoaks still refused to give up and yet another line out catch and drive saw them score again but it was too late and the final whistle went with Medway running out 37 – 22 winners.

This was a really good performance from the Extras that had pace, power, individual skill and team work and shows what they are capable of when they play to their systems. A big well done to young Zach Garratt for his first, but surely not his last, Man of the Match performance.  A special thank you also to prop John Dugan who stepped up from the 4’s at short notice to give us a front row. Thanks to Sevenoaks for playing their part in a very entertaining game – it is clear to see why they have enjoyed the season that they have and we look forward to meeting them again next season. Thanks also to Mr Khanna who refereed firmly and without whom we wouldn’t have had a game.

Medway Squad: John Dugan, Richard Petch, Al, Waterman, Dan Goodall, Rhys Gue, Josh Hawkins, Oscar Wells, David French, Rob O’Brien, Brad Ford, Bobby Ellis, Lewis Hollidge, Henry Hall, Matt Brightman, Zach Garratt, Tad Bileisis, Sean Crittenden, Johnny Smith, Adam Dady

 

Medway 59 Maidstone 0 (London South 1) 14th April 2018

Medway entertained local rivals Maidstone at Priestfields on Sunday seeking the win they needed to keep on track for the promotion play offs.   Playing into the breeze Medway received the opening kick off and went straight onto the attack. Going through multiple phases with Jordan Stubbington prominent they eventually stretched the visitors for Sam Sharpe to break the defensive line and go round under posts. Dan Harvey converted and Medway led 7-0.  Medway continued to attack but a couple of handing errors saw Maidstone have the put in at the scrums. Maidstone knew they were in for a tough day as the Medway pack led by Mike Gardner, Billy Sandison and Alex O’ Leary drove the visitors off their own ball in successive scrums.  On 12 minutes the pressure told. Medway secured a line out deep in the Maidstone 22m. Max Easton won the ball from the excellent throwing of Sandison, who was 100% on the day. The forwards then and executed a set piece move for Tom Beaumont to score in the corner. Dan Harvey adding an excellent conversion to extend the lead out to 14-0.  The next 10 minutes of play saw Maidstone enjoy their best period of play in the game as camped on the Medway’s line. Medway were forced to defend short attack after short attack with Ben Massey and Lewis Stimpson particularly dangerous for Maidstone.   Great defence from all including young Dan O’Brien meant that Maidstone were unable to breach the Medway line but in conceding successive team penalties in the red zone Medway’s fly half Dan Harvey was sent to the sin bin for 10 minutes.

On 26 minutes and with only 14 men, Medway broke the Maidstone stranglehold when Doug Ebanks broke out of defence. The subsequent ruck on Medway’s 10m line saw Captain James Dance attack down the narrow side then interplay between him and his brother Ben saw Ben finish the length of the field try to break Maidstone’s hearts. Alfie Orris added the conversion for a 21-0 lead.   The final score of the half came as a result of Medway’s scrum dominance. A ball won against the head was moved quickly to put Sam Sharpe over out wide for his second try. Harvey having returned to play added another excellent conversion to make the half time score 28-0 and secure the vital bonus point.

The second half kicked off and Medway were soon on the attack. They continually stretched the visitors defence with good handling and full back Sam Garofalo entering the line as often as possible to keep the width in attack.  In defending an attack close to the line the Maidstone scrum half, Lucien, was adjudged to have deliberately knocked on and he was sent to the sin bin. Medway opted to scrum and following a number resets eventually scored when the Dance brothers combined to put Dan Harvey over in the corner for an unconverted try.  On 53 minutes the ever dangerous Alfie Orris fielded a poor clearance kick from Maidstone and with good footwork evaded some lack lustre defence to score under the posts. Harvey converted and the lead was now 40-0. Medway rung the changes with Ross Cooley replacing Mike Gardner and Billy Humphrey on for Ben Dance.  Medway were now totally dominant and this was reflected when from the kick off James Dance and Tom Beaumont combined very well to put Dan Harvey over for his second try in the corner. Another excellent kick from the touchline and Medway led 47-0.  With the game an hour old Medway won a penalty and kicked for the corner. A set piece move from the backs saw Luke Burns strong running break the first line of defence and off load to the supporting Doug Ebanks who went over under the posts. Another Harvey conversion extended the lead out to 54-0. Conor Chalmers replaced Luke Burns for Medway’s final change.  Medway continued to play good attacking rugby but to give credit to Maidstone they never gave him. They were always competitive at the breakdown and Medway were forced to work hard for their possession.

The final score of the game came on 65 minutes when having gone through a number of phases Orris broke his markers tackle and his pace carried him away from the cover defence for him to score his second try. The conversion was missed to make the final score 59-0.  Medway had further chances to score in the final 10 minutes but let these slip with some uncharacteristic handling errors. Despite this it was an excellent win and a good comeback from the previous weeks’ defeat.  Coach Taff Gwilliam said “ The coaches asked for a response from last weeks error strewn performance and we got it”. He added “We are delighted to win and stay ahead of Havant in the race for the promotion play off place”Next week Medway have another local derby when they take on the improving Gravesend team in their final league game of the season. Any win will see them secure a play off place.

 

Dartfordians (II) 21 Medway Extra 34 (Invicta 1) 07th April 2018

The Extra’s made the short trip up the A2 with a very different looking side from previous weeks as they looked to blood a number of Development Squad players with an eye on next season.

Medway started well spending the opening period in the Dartfordians half thanks to some good control from half backs Rob O’Brien and Brad Ford which allowed centres Bobby Ellis and Lewis Hollidge to exploit gaps in the Darts defence. Medway got to the five metre line but lost the ball forward giving Darts the chance to clear their lines but the kick didn’t find touch and was taken well by winger Matt Brightman who ran it back strongly making twenty yards before finally being brought to ground. Quick ball from the ruck found flanker Lewis Marriott who had timed his run well and he burst through the line to score under the posts. A successful Ford conversion saw Medway take an early 0 – 7 lead but as has so often been the case this season they immediately let their opponents back into the game when they failed to deal with the restart. Using the advantage Darts picked up the loose ball and and made their way into the Medway twenty-two before releasing their winger who skipped through three poor tackles before touching down and levelling the scores. Medway regrouped and a succession of kickable penalties saw Ford take the opportunities to extend the Medway lead to 7 – 13. Darts came back and looked certain to score as their backs flooded forward creating a three on two but a poor pass was intercepted by Ellis on the five metre line and he broke at pace reaching the Darts ten metre line before offloading to Hollidge who got deep into the twenty-two before being tackled. A penalty for hands in the ruck saw Medway take the scrum with Gerdes-Hansen picking up at the rear and getting to the five metre line to set up a ruck from which prop Andy Connell picked up and dived over for a 7 – 20 lead. There then followed a delay as winger Rhys Burns suffered a leg injury which has ended his season prematurely – we all wish him a speedy recovery.  Despite this setback Medway finished the half on top as second row debutant Rhys Gue took a high ball and crashed through three tackles making twenty metres before offloading to O’Brien who quickly found full back Zach Garratt. He showed great pace as he tore through the Darts line before finding flaker Dave French in support who ran in for a 7 – 27 score at half time.

The second half took twenty minutes to get going as both sides made a number of silly handling errors and neither played with any structure. Added to that were a number of delays for injuries (thankfully no more serious ones) which led to a disjointed and frustrating period of play. Darts were the first to score however as Medway kicked deep to clear their lines and then failed to defend the resulting attack with a poor defensive line and too many missed tackles which saw the Darts winger run in another try to close the gap to 14 – 27. Medway came back with a score of their own as good work at a breakdown saw Ellis turn the ball over and send it out wide to the backs. Garratt came into the line at full pace and took the final pass on the Darts ten metre line beating two defenders to run in under the posts for a 14 – 34 lead. Darts weren’t done however and when Medway were caught offside at a ruck they kicked for touch to set up the line out. Quick ball to their big centre saw him crash through to score and narrow the gap but it wasn’t enough as, despite a huge effort from Darts in the last few minutes, Medway defended well and stood firm to see the game out and come away with a 21 – 34 win.  This was a frustrating afternoon for Medway who didn’t play to their structures and systems for the majority of the game and it was individual skill levels that got them through – still a win is a win. What was very encouraging was that the Dev Squad debutants, Ted Shand, Adam Dady and man of the match Rhys Gue all performed well and have put down a very real marker for further selection. Our thanks go to Dartfordians who played with real spirit and never gave up – we wish them well for the last few games of the season. Thanks also to referee Mr Hollins who was consistent throughout and without whom we wouldn’t have got a game.

Medway Squad: Richard Petch, Andy Connell, Al Waterman, Ben Shove, Rhys Gue, Lewis Marriott, Dave French, Toby Gerdes-Hansen, Rob O’Brien, Brad Ford, Rhys Burns, Boby Ellis, Lewis Hollidge, Matt Brightman, Zach Garratt, Adam Dady, Ted Shand

Cobham 41 Medway 24 (London 1 South) – 07th April 2018

Medway travelled to Cobham on Saturday to take on their Surrey rivals having been forced to make personnel and positional changes due injury and unavailability following excellent back to back victories over Chichester and Brighton. Cobham for their part also had some changes to their first choice line up.  Playing conditions for the match were excellent and the game kicked off with Medway gaining early possession.  As Medway looked to attack from deep a loose pass was intercepted and the Cobham scored under the posts to lead 7-0.

Medway recovered and following a series of penalties for scrum infringements on the home side’s line eventually drove over for stand in No 8 Ben Dance to score the unconverted try.  On 15 minutes Medway steal a Cobham line out but the loose ball is re-gathered by the home side and an excellent cross kick sees their winger catch and score in the corner for an unconverted try and their lead went out to 12-5.  Medway despite being down were very much in the game and continually attacked Cobham. Cobham defended well but in conceding a number of penalties had a player sent to the sin bin. Despite this Medway could not capitalise.  They then themselves were reduced to 14 men with Jordan Stubbington harshly shown a yellow card for what seemed a fair strong tackle.

On the half hour mark Medway were on the attack near the home line when they lost possession. The loose ball fell kindly for the home player who raced the length of the field only to be stopped short by a great chase by Conor Chalmers however the Cobham 7 supported well and was on hand to take the offload and score the unconverted try. 17-5.  Medway came back again and pressed but once again an interception from the home side prevented what seemed an inevitable try. The young Medway side continued to take the game to Cobham and eventually some great flowing rugby saw Sam Garofalo score on the stroke of half time after good hands from Antony Clement and Luke Burns making the score 17-10.

As in the first half Medway had a disastrous start to the second when a defensive high kick from Cobham was not dealt with and the loose ball fell kindly to Cobham hands  and the player raced away to score a converted try and stretch the home lead to 24-10.  It took only 3 minutes for Medway to reply. A break by Doug Ebanks, on for the injured Clement, saw him off load to Garofalo who finished well under posts. Alfie Orris kicked the conversion and Medway closed the gap to 24-17.  Medway continued to take the game to the home side but just as it seemed they could get on level terms they threw yet another pass that was intercepted and Cobham took the full 7 points with the difficult conversion being successful. 31-17.  Cobham deserved this victory not so much for their attacking play but for the resolute defence they offered when Medway attacked. Several times Medway went through long periods of possession pressing the home line but were denied by the disciplined defence.

Medway did manage to breach Cobham’s line once more when strong running from Luke Burns saw him crash over. Orris Medway’s stand in 10 for the day added the conversion to secure what could be a valuable bonus point come the end of the season. 31-24.  Medway’s hopes of securing more than the losing point disappeared when they failed to clear their lines of the resultant kick allowing Cobham a catch and drive lineout opportunity. They took the chance to push the score out to 36-24.  Soon after Medway were once again reduced to 14 men when Tom Beaumont was sent to the sin bin for questioning a refereeing decision.  Medway despite being down to 14 men still looked to take the game to Cobham looking for the second bonus point but once again gifted the home side possession who raced away to seal victory by 41-24.  Medway were beaten on the day but although their own errors gifted Cobham 28 points Cobham deserved to win for their excellent defence.

Medway will need to re-gather themselves as next week they face local rivals Maidstone in the penultimate game of the league season.  Coach Taff Gwilliam said “ we were the architects of our own downfall with so many interceptions thrown”……”Cobham however were deserving of the victory with clinical finishing off our errors and even more so for their resolute defence”.  He added “ We still have a lot to play for and the squad will be strengthened next week with returning players so competition for places at training will be good and we look forward to entertaining Maidstone in a key local derby”.