Havant 29 Medway 28 (London 1 South) 13th April 2019

Medway’s final game of the season saw them travel to Hampshire to take on old rivals Havant. Matches between these two sides have always been keenly fought and this occasion was no different.  Playing on Havant’s new artificial pitch Medway kicked off and Zach Garratt secured the ball and fed Antony Clement who drove close to the home line. The ball was re-cycled and Amon Panikoula crashed over for the try with just a minute gone on the clock. It was converted by Dan Harvey.  In almost identical fashion Medway failed to deal with the re-start and Havant recovered the ball then went through a few phases before a missed tackle at the fringe of a ruck saw Havant break and their hooker score under the posts which was also converted 7-7.  Havant were next to score. Medway were attacking deep inside the home 22m when a handling error saw Havant break out from defence and a missed tackle out wide saw the home winger and their scrum half combine to score under the posts. 14-7.  Both sides then came close to scoring. Medway were held short of the line from a catch and drive and subsequent scrums. Havant broke out from this pressure and their hooker thought he had scored but was penalised.  Medway levelled the game with a free flowing move which saw them score a great team try out wide through Alfie Orris. Harvey landed the tough conversion 14-14. The final minutes of the half saw Medway have good scoring opportunities from both scrum and lineout 5m from the home line but the chances went by through errors and eventually conceding a penalty leaving the half time scores level.

The second half kicked off and having secured the ball Medway looked to attack but a handling error saw them concede a scrum. Havant took full advantage winning the scrum and good handling resulted with a well taken try out wide. The conversion was missed but they led 19-14.  Medway came back and once again had lineouts close to the home line but could not convert the opportunities. They continued to pressure and were rewarded on 48 minutes when Sammy Garofalo broke the Havant defensive line and with good footwork scampered over under the posts. Harvey converted and Medway took the lead 19-21.  On 51 minutes Medway’s fragile defence was exposed again when Havant sliced through. A last ditch effort saw the attack held up over line. Havant however were playing under advantage and went for the corner with the resultant penalty kick. Great line out defence repels the initial Havant effort and Medway cleared their lines.  The next line out saw Havant secure the ball and their fly half disappointingly eluded three tackles to score the home side’s bonus point try under posts. He converted himself and Havant led 26-21.  Havant were dominating this period of the game and thought they had scored again only to have the try disallowed for a forward pass.  A error at the base of a Medway scrum gave Havant more possession and they attacked upfield and from a ruck in front of the posts the ball is fed back to their fly half, Knight ,who kicks an excellent drop goal to put Havant two scores ahead 29-21.  Medway needed to respond with just 12 minutes remaining. They won a penalty at the kick off and gain good field position from Harvey’s line kick. Possession gives them the chance to attack and Havant lose a player to a yellow card for a high tackle. Medway opt for the scrum and from the scrum attack Antony Clement is held up over the line. Again Medway attack from the scrum but loose possession.  Medway keep the pressure up and on 38 minutes Havant are reduced to 13 men for another high tackle preventing a try out wide. A penalty try was awarded. 29-28.

Medway secure the ball from the kick off and the game ends with Medway driving for the line from short distance several times only to eventually concede a penalty for sealing off and Havant survive to secure a hard fought victory.

Coach Taff Gwilliam said ‘It has been a tough season the boys have done really well. We have been in the mix throughout and just fell short at the end…………we are a young side and will be a better side for the experience’.

Medway 13 Camberley 24 (London 1 South) 06th April 2019

This top of the table clash kicked off in front of a large crowd with supporters turning up from both clubs in numbers for this eagerly awaited match.  The game kicked and Camberley started the stronger. Medway were forced to defend for long periods.  After 7 minutes a poor clearance kick gifted Camberley possession on the home 22m. The visitors, with good field position, went through the phases and eventually created space out wide for an excellent pass to put the left winger in for the opening unconverted try. 0-5.  Camberley maintained the pressure from the re-start and good driving play forced Medway back. With 12 minutes on the clock Medway conceded a penalty. Camberley went for the catch and drive and although that was thwarted, after a number of phases, managed to narrow the Medway defence and create an overlap for a try in  the corner. An excellent conversion put the lead out to 0-12.  It was all Camberley at this point. Medway were starved of possession as their line out uncharacteristically misfired. The home sides’ first meaningful attack saw a penalty awarded in front of the posts and Harvey obliged 3-12.  As the half wore on Medway started to get a foothold in the game and just before half time it seemed a try was on the cards when a well worked move put Alfie Orris through but a brilliant last ditch tackle by the visitors full back prevented the score. Medway went into half time trailing 3-12.

The second half started and Medway were immediately on the front foot and it was Camberley who were now having to defend the Medway phase plays as they worked to get back into the game. Camberley were forced to concede another simple penalty in front of the posts and Harvey narrowed the deficit to 6-12.  Medway were now on the front foot. Medway introduced strong players from the bench in Huntley and Sandison. The home side were now getting the ascendency in the scrums and playing front foot rugby.  On 54 minutes with the home side attacking calamity struck. Medway commit suicide when they gifted a simple interception to the home defence who raced away to score under Medway’s posts for a converted try and a 6-19 lead. To add to the home woes Jordan Stubbington was justifiably yellow carded following a silly confrontation.  There were no further scores during this period of the sin bin with Medway holding their own despite being down to 14 men. The home scrum was dominating their opponents despite being short.  On 66 minutes with Medway restored to a full compliment and with Sam Sharpe also introduced off the bench Medway were once again on the front foot. Another penalty infringement saw Medway execute a catch and drive and score the try through Dan Huntley. Harvey added the conversion from wide out bringing the score back to 13-19.  Camberley were under increasing pressure at the set piece and it looked like Medway could snatch something from the game until once again another crazy interception killed the home side’s come back. The kick off was secured and Medway went on the attack but gifted Camberley yet another try. Medway were the architects of their own downfall falling behind 13-24.  Medway dominated the final stages and Camberley were fortunate not to concede at the death when Medway were denied several times on the visitors line.

Coach Taff Gwilliam said ‘ Camberley are a well organised team with a very strong defence…they totally dominated us early on but we came back well only to give away two very silly interception tries which we could not recover from’

Brighton 31 Medway 38 (London 1 South) 30th March 2019

Medway travelled to the South coast on Saturday to take on Brighton in a vital top of the table clash with both sides vying for promotion. The ground announcer, pre-match, spoke of the prospect of a titanic battle between these two sides and so it tuned out to be. This was a pulsating affair which was not decided until the final play of the game.  Medway started the stronger and from the kick off dominated possession and went through the phases. Winger Alfie Orris was stopped short with some great defence. Brighton’s first possession saw them kick the ball away and subsequently concede a penalty. Medway kicked for the corner and a well worked line out saw Billy Humphrey crash over in the corner for an unconverted try. 0-5.  On 13 minutes Brighton came back. A number of short carries by them were thwarted but from a 5 metre scrum the home fly half showed a bit of brilliance attacking the line and a fine offload put the centre over for another unconverted try. 5-5.  Medway responded immediately from the kick off. Good work in the line out from Stubbington, Panikoula and Humphrey provided quality ball for the backs. Good handling put Orris away beating the defence to score in the corner. Harvey landed the difficult conversion and Medway led 5-12.  At the half way point of the half Medway were dominating possession and despite going close did not manage to break the home defence until the 27th minute.  A penalty won at the scrum was kicked deep into Brighton territory. The resultant line out ball went through a number of phases with Tom Beaumont, Dan Huntley and Max Easton playing prominent roles. As they drove close to the home line Amon Panikoula was fed the ball in space and he scampered over for an excellent team try. Harvey kicked the conversion and Medway increased their lead to 5-19.  On 33 minutes Medway score the all important bonus point try through Dan Huntley. Excellent line out work provides the platform for him to slice through the home defence for an unconverted try and a lead of 5-24.  On 36 minutes both teams lose players to injury. Medway lock Max Easton was replaced by back row forward Lewis Stimpson. The home centre and Captain was also forced from the field.  The last few minutes of the half was all Brighton. Having won two penalties in front of the posts they opted for scrums to try and eat into the deficit. Despite winning both scrums and pounding the Medway line the visitors defence held strong to make the half time score 5-24.

The second half started with Medway handing the home side possession following a kicking error. Brighton were clinical in punishing the error the home fly half putting his winger in for a converted try. 12-24.  Medway came back within 5 minutes when Harvey kicked a penalty following a home infringement at scrum time. 12-27.  Immediately from the kick off Medway made another basic error and conceded a penalty. Brighton kicked for the corner. A well executed line out saw them score a deserved converted try. 19-27.  Medway having made errors looked to regain composure and through retaining possession get back into the game. Good continuity play with Stimpson, Petch, Clement, Stubbington and O’Leary all contributing wins another kickable penalty which Harvey duly obliged to make the score 19-30.  Medway make some more changes with Sharpe replacing Redman, who has been carrying a leg injury, and Sandison replacing Humphrey at hooker.  Medway were in possession when a handling error gifted Brighton possession and following their own good continuity work score a well worked try under the posts. The conversion added brought the score to 26-30.  The vocal home support was now getting behind their team. Brighton were getting on top of the visitors whose own errors were contributing to a fine fightback from the home side. That fightback was completed when Medway turned the ball over at line out and a rampant Brighton scored an unconverted try to lead for the first time 31-30.  With just 6 minutes on the clock left Medway needed to compose themselves. Keeping possession and making no errors were the key to them securing victory. Brighton had field position but a good breakout from Charlie Wardzynski gave Medway field position. They recycled the ball and Sharpe and Stimpson carried well. Brighton conceded a penalty at the breakdown and Harvey kicked Medway back into the lead 31-33.  This was a pulsating affair. From the kick off Brighton pinned Medway back deep in their 22. Under pressure Medway retained possession and eventually broke out Orris carrying upfield well. The ball was then  moved in field only for Zach Garratt to be high tackled. The referee signalled that there were 2 minutes left to play. With a slender lead Medway opted to kick for the corner rather than posts.  The resultant line out saw Medway drive for the line but Brighton thwarted this. Medway went through the phases retaining possession to run the clock out and just as the time was up Sam Garofalo found himself up against a front row forward and his sharpness saw him beat the defender and score to seal a hard fought victory. The try was unconverted and Medway had won this absorbing match 31-38.

Coach Taff Gwilliam said ‘….this was always going to be a big ask to come here and win with a bonus point. We are delighted to have done so. However having gone into half time in control of the game at 24-5 we have to take a hard look at ourselves with the number of basic errors we committed. Those errors against a quality side like Brighton saw us fall behind near the end so we are delighted to have shown the composure to secure victory in those final few minutes’. He added ‘Both sides could have won and despite losing the two bonus points Brighton gained still keeps them in the hunt’.

Tottonians 24 Medway 41 (London 1 South) 23rd March 2019

Medway travelled to Hampshire for their latest match. Their host’s, Tottonians, are fighting hard to avoid relegation and with Medway looking to maintain their push for promotion this was always going to be a tough match and so it proved.  The opening exchanges went the way of the home side with Medway making errors and giving away a penalty at a scrum which was converted to give the home side the lead 3-0. With 9 minutes on the clock Medway won a scrum penalty of their own and kicked for the corner. Good work from Humphrey and Stubbington saw the pack drive for the line. The maul was brought down and Medway moved the ball wide for centre Sam Sharpe to crash over. Dan Harvey converted and Medway led 3-7.  Tottonians bounced back and Medway found themselves defending their line hard as the home team carried the ball through many phases and as it seemed likely they would score an excellent turnover on the line allowed Medway to clear their lines.  Medway then secured good field position on the back of consecutive penalties the second of which allowed Harvey the opportunity to add to Medway’s score. He was accurate to make the score 3-10.  Just as Medway were looking to take control of the game Tottonians came back. An excellent scrummage on 32 minutes from the home side and good interplay saw their centre over the line and round under the posts. The try was converted to level the scores.  The rest of the half was all Medway. Wardzynski, Redman testing the home side out wide. The forwards through Panikoula, Stimpson, Stubbington and Petch carrying hard but despite good approach work they could not breach the home sides hard working defence. The teams went into half time level.

The second half started and Medway were soon on the attack. A line out on the halfway line saw Stubbington make an excellent break. Good continuity work from Max Easton, Dan Huntley and Lewis Stimpson all making inroads into the home defence saw the platform provided for Sam Garofalo and Dan Harvey to put Alfie Orris away to score an unconverted try in the corner. 10-15.  Medway now had their tails up and were soon pressing the home line. A couple of line out drives were thwarted but a training ground ploy saw Medway score again through Billy Humphrey in the corner. The conversion was missed to make the score 10-20.  Medway continued to pressure seeking the all important bonus point, and they got it. Good work from Petch, O’Leary, Panikoula, Easton and Humphrey secured a penalty at the scrum. Medway kicked deep into the home 22 and secured possession from the line out. Harvey and Sharpe combined and put Orris away for his second try. Harvey converted and Medway were now leading 10-27 and the try bonus point secured.  On 64 minutes Tottonians secured possession from a Medway error. The scrum ball was won and eventually, following a number of phases, the home side scored a deserved try which was converted to make the score 17-27. Medway introduced Tom Beaumont and Antony Clement off the bench looking to maintain the tempo of the game.  From the kick off Tottonians secure the ball but a poor clearance kick allows Medway the field position. Tottonians looked to force the game but make a handling error which gifts Antony Clement a run in try converted by Harvey 34-17. Tom Whitnell then replaced Richard Petch.  Tottonians bounced back straight away courtesy of a loose pass which was intercepted and the try scored in the corner. A great conversion gave the home side hope. 24-34.  With 4 minutes left to play it was Medway who slammed the door shut on the home sides fightback. Good possession from the forwards saw the backs work a well rehearsed move for Clement to put Zach Garratt away. He beat the cover defence to score under the posts. Harvey converted and Medway were victors by 24-41.

Medway coach Taff Gwilliam said ‘…. we are pleased to have won away against a team battling to avoid relegation’ He added ‘This is a hard place to come and win. Tottonians never gave up and pushed us all the way’.

 

 

Medway Extra 45 Westcombe Park II 21 (Invicta 1) 09th February 2019

Westcombe Park were the visitors to a sunny and windy Priestfields for what turned out to be a very enjoyable game with some excellent rugby.  Medway kicked off with the strong wind at their backs and were soon camped in the Park half as their opponents struggled to settle. The early pressure told as Medway kicked to touch from a penalty, secured the line out and sent the ball to centre Sam Sharpe who crashed through two defenders to score under the posts for the first converted try of the game and a 7-0 lead.  Medway took the restart through Adam Dady who made a great break right through the middle of the Park defence before finally being stopped on their ten metre line. The forwards were quick to the break down securing the ball for the backs who reacted well sending it down the the line before finding winger Kaine Dimech who ran in under the posts for a 14-0 lead. Park restarted deep but Medway again secured it well and took their time getting settled before finding centre Pete Walsh just inside the twenty two. He barrelled through two tacklers and set off up the middle looking for support before finally being brought to ground just outside the Park twenty two.  Medway again secured the ball and continued the forward momentum with some pick and drives before another penalty gave them the opportunity to kick for touch to set up another attacking line out ten metres out. The line out was going well and the forwards took it easily before setting up a driving maul that was well controlled at the back by hooker Billy Humphrey. Park were unable to stop it and Humphrey scored a well worked try for a 19-0 lead. Park seemed rattled by Medway’s express start and when the restart went straight out they handed the initiative back to the Medway forwards who were now dominating the scrum. They succeeded in pushing Park back ten metres before being awarded the inevitable penalty which Medway took quickly to keep the pressure on. The ball went out to the left wing before coming back inside to fly half Max Bullock who showed good footwork to beat the covering defender scoring under the posts and then converting to take the score to 26-0. Park finally woke up and began to play some decent rugby of their own maintaining possession and control and making their way towards the Medway line. Medway defended well however and managed to recover a loose ball on the ground which Bullock cleared. Medway then stole the Park line out and came back on the attack with Walsh being fed the ball just outside the Park twenty two. He again showed his strength beating two tackles to run in their fifth try for a half time score of 33-0.

The talk at half time talk was about staying calm and not conceding easy points and so it was disappointing when Medway failed to deal with the restart gifting the ball straight to a chasing Park forward who took the loose ball and charged straight through a disorganised defence for a soft converted try under the posts. Medway restarted but were soon under pressure again as Park took it well and began to move through the phases gaining ground before releasing their centre who, helped by some poor tackling, ran through for their second converted try. Medway restarted with their lead reduced to 33-14 and needing to reassert some authority. The experienced hands in the forwards took control happy to keep possession and gain ground slowly. Park became frustrated and a number of penalties allowed Medway to reach the five metre line where another lineout saw the ball worked to Bullock who spotted a gap in the defence and glided through it for a 38-14 lead. With ten minutes left Medway sealed the win when another penalty saw them take the scrum, an area where they had dominated all game, securing quick ball for Sharpe who again crashed through the defence for his second try and a 45-14 lead. To their credit Park came back and scored their third try but it was too little too late as Medway secured the points with a 45-21 win.  This was another good Extra’s performance with some excellent rugby mixed in with the odd lapse in concentration but overall they were the better team and deserved the win. Our thanks to Westcombe Park for a hard fought game played in an excellent spirit. It has been good to have them back in the Invicta league and we wish them well for the rest of the season. Our thanks also to referee Mr Weller who had a good game and was consistent throughout.

Medway Squad: Al Waterman, Billy Humphrey (Capt), Jack Nickalls, Johnny Smith, Rhys Gue, Dan O’Brien, Malcolm Cameron, Adam Dady, Bobby Ellis, Max Bullock, Kaine Diemch, Tony Walsh, Sam Sharpe, Matt Brightman, Rhys Burns, Tom Huntley, Sean Crittenden, Ruan Schuling, James Bullock