Medway travelled to Surrey rivals Chobham on Saturday for their latest league fixture. Matches between these two sides have always been hard fought and this game was no exception. Playing on a good surface the home side kicked off playing with the wind and continuous rain at their backs. The opening exchanges saw both sides trying to impose their will on the other. Considering the conditions both sides played with good continuity and had chances to open the scoring but on 15 minutes it was the visitors who were first on the board. Medway won a penalty at the scrum on the halfway line following strong scrummaging from Gardner, Humphrey and O’Leary. They kicked for the corner and on winning the line out went through two phases of play. The the home defence were stretched allowing stand in fly half Ryan Redman to cut back against the grain and score. He converted the try himself and Medway led 0-7. On 19 minutes Chobham responded with probably their finest passage of play throughout the game. A sustained attack going through several phases of play saw them attack wide on one side then move the ball wide out to the other. Good ball retention at the breakdown with Sammut and Gregory, Rowland and particularly Whale prominent saw them eventually narrow the visitors defence and score an excellent try out wide. The successful touchline conversion brought the home side level. As the half progressed the Chobham set piece improved following a change in the front row. This combined with Medway conceding a couple of back to back penalties allowed the home side to dominate proceedings and put Medway under constant pressure. Although defending well, eventually, the pressure told and Chobham scored a well worked unconverted try out wide to lead at half time 12-7.
The home side had their tails up and were well worth their half time lead. The second half started with the rain continuing to come down making handling difficult. Medway were guilty of handling errors and despite opportunities to score close to the Chobham line failed to capitalise. It was not until the 53rd minute that the next score came. Medway winning a penalty for a breakdown infringement following good work by Beaumont, Stimpson and Stubbington. Redman was on target to narrow the score to 12-10. Three minutes later Medway took the lead. A great individual run from Amon Panikoula saw him break several tackles to take play under the home sides posts. Good carries from Gardner and Dady committed the home defence allowing Dance to provide quick ball and release Stimpson who scampered over for an excellent try. Redman converted and Medway were ahead 12-17. Medway then lost hooker Billy Humphrey with concussion. Soon after Captain Mike Gardner had to leave the field. But despite these changes Medway in between added an excellent penalty from Redman out wide to extend the lead to 12-20. Chobham, mainly through their No 8 Ben Whale tried to get back into the game but with Clement and Wardzynski solid in midfield and Orris, Chalmers and Garratt clearing up the kicks in behind the score they strived for did not come.
The final score of the game came from the boot of Redman when on 68 minutes Chobham conceded a penalty on the half way line. Redman struck it magnificently and Medway were 12-23 to the good. Chobham worked hard to get back in but with Medway’s fresh legs of Petch, O’Brien and Garofalo Medway closed the game out for a hard fought victory. Coach Taff Gwilliam said ‘ The conditions for both teams were very difficult. Chobham’s league position seems a little false given the quality and toughness of the game played’ he added, ‘they are a good team and will be a force to be reckoned with on their day. We are delighted to have come here and won. It is no easy feat!’
The league takes a week off and Medway will be looking for a number of their missing players to recover and compete for a place. Medway’s next game is at home against Hove RFC on 20th October.