Havant 11 Medway 10 (London 1 South) 12th October 2019

This week’s round of league matches saw the top four sides in the league face each other. For their part Medway travelled to third placed Havant looking to leapfrog them in the league.  The match kicked off and the visitors soon found themselves behind. A missed tackle in midfield after just 3 minutes saw Havant cross the line for the opening try and a 5-0 lead with the conversion going astray.  Havant are a physically big side and buoyed by the early score came at Medway with hard running. The young Medway side’s defence has been improving of late and did so again today. They managed to contain the home side and a well struck long range penalty from Daniel Harvey, following a high tackle, bounced off the cross bar and over to narrow the score to 5-3.  On 25 minutes Havant stretched their lead when Medway were penalised for side entry at the ruck. 8-3 Havant.  The rest of the half was all Medway as they pressed the home line on the back of some dominant scrummaging by Ross Cooley, Bill Sandison and Alex O’ Leary. From one such scrum Medway’s industrious Captain was held up over the line by some good Havant defensive work.  With a scrum on the home side’s 5 metre line a well work move saw the in form impressive Alfie Orris slice through the home defence to score under the posts. Harvey converted and Medway led 8-10.  Just before half time Medway were camped on the home sides line. A number of scrums saw Medway drive for the home line only for Havant to collapse the scrum or stand up each time. After the fourth infringement the referee yellow carded the home prop but inexplicably did not go under the posts. The very next scrum saw a ‘wheel’ and Havant escaped without conceding!  The sides went into half time with the score at 8-10 in Medway’s favour.

 The second half was a real battle between the two sides. Mo Pengarker, Max Easton and Jordan Stubbington worked tirelessly. They were backed up by an excellent performance from Antony Clement.   With Medway’s long injury list this match was an opportunity for other squad members to enhance the experience of this level and Noah Hyde, Jack Nickalls, Malcolm Cameron, Rhys Burns and debutant Christian Hechter all played their part in a tough encounter.  The only score of the half went to Havant when Medway were adjudged offside just outside their own 22m. The home kicker made no mistake for the home side to take the lead 11-10.  The game was in the balance right up to the final minute of play. The visitors were awarded a penalty on the half way line. Harvey struck the long range attempt ball well but it slid by the right hand post and Havant survived closing the game out to seal the narrowest of wins.

 Coach Taff Gwilliam said “It is always gutting to lose by a single point but I was delighted with the effort and battling qualities of all of our under strength team” he added “we are enriching the experience of our young wider squad and that can only be good for the future”.

Medway 32 Horsham 18 (London 1 South) 5th October 2019

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”