Medway 28 HAC 19 (London 1 South) 23rd November 2019

Medway entertained the Honourable Artillery Company for the first time ever in Saturday’s Division 1 league game at Priestfields. With the weather holding off the large crowd were treated to an enthralling match which until the final minutes could have gone either way.  HAC had the better of the initial opening exchanges but it was Medway who scored first when on their very first excursion into the HAC half they won a penalty at the breakdown. Harvey was on target and the home side led 3-0.   The match was a hard fought affair and HAC deservedly took the lead on 17m. Good work work from the visiting forwards saw a mismatch created in midfield for the try. The conversion put the visitors ahead 3-7.  Medway had chances to score from the boot and ball in hand but uncharacteristic errors let them down. HAC always looked dangerous  with their high tempo game.  On 32 minutes Medway had a line out on the HAC 10m line. Bill Sandison and Max Easton combined to win the ball. James Dance fed Conor Chalmers who broke through several tackles to be hauled down just short of the line. The ball was re-cycled quickly and Dance and Harvey combined to send Orris over. The try was unconverted but Medway led 8-7.

HAC hit back almost immediately from the re-start. Medway were penalised for a high tackle. HAC kicked for the corner. From the resultant lineout their catch and drive effort was halted but after several phases near the Medway line they eventually scored the converted try to lead 8-14.  Medway, with just a few minutes of the half remaining, won a penalty at the scrum. They kicked for the corner and won the line out. Medway kept the ball in hand and pressed the home line. Eventually the visitors defence was breached when Orris was on hand to dive over for his second try. Harvey converted and Medway went into to half time leading 15-14. Medway were fortunate to be leading. The combination of basic errors and the excellent play from HAC meant that the game was still anybody’s to take.  To re-enforce the point HAC were the team to score first after the re-start. They gathered the kick off retained possession and camped themselves on Medway’s line. Once again they were patient. Good ball retention and re-cycling saw them eventually get over the line for a deserved try. The conversion was missed but HAC led 15-19.  On 49 minutes Medway replied. The scrum was dominating and this provided the platform for Medway. Good possession from the scrums gave Medway field position. Jordan Stubbington launching attacks off this possession with good support from Antony Clement and Tom Beaumont ensured the ball was re-cycled and eventually James Dance fed Mo Pangarker for him to burst through the visitors defence and score. Harvey converted and Medway led again 22-19.  Medway increased that lead when another scrum penalty gave Dan Harvey the opportunity. He made no mistake and Medway stretched the lead to 25-19. Medway won excellent field position as the game progressed but spurned good scoring opportunities near the visitors line from both boot and hand. On the back of this HAC cleared their lines efficiently.  The home victory was only secured with 4 minutes left on the clock, HAC committed a high tackle in front of their own posts and Medway opted to kick and get the two score buffer. Harvey made no mistake and and Medway led 28-19.

To HAC’s credit they won the ball back from the kick off then forced Medway to concede an easy kickable penalty . This was the last play of the game. They opted to kick for the corner to try and secure two bonus points rather than the obvious one. Although they won the ball from the ensuing lineout Medway stopped the catch and drive then won the turnover at the subsequent breakdown. The referee blew for full time and Medway were the victors.

Coach Taff Gwilliam said “ there are no easy games in this league and HAC’s performance belied their lowly position” he added “It was not our best performance and we made too many basic mistakes but that is not intended take credit away from HAC who play a good brand of rugby and deserved something from this game”.

Medway next travel to Cobham who downed the league leaders Westcombe Park.

 

Beckenham 13 Medway 52 (London 1 South) 16th November 2019

Medway travelled to South London on Saturday to take on Beckenham in this round ten league game. The match also served as the inaugural Jim Kennedy Memorial Trophy match between the two Kent clubs.  Although a chilly afternoon conditions were good for Rugby and a large crowd had gathered for the game. Medway with two debutants in the squad, Joe Errington and Kaine Demech, started the stronger and were soon on the board when a break by Alfie Orris saw him offload to Captain Tom Beaumont to score. Dan Harvey converted. 0-7.  On 15 minutes Medway extended their lead. A penalty was kicked to the corner and from the resultant line out Sandison crashed over in the corner for the try. Harvey hit the post with the conversion attempt. 0-12.  Medway looked to be in control but Beckenham fought back. A driving maul was illegally pulled down short of Medway’s posts and Tarbie made no mistake with the kick. 3-12. On the back of that the home No 8 Blackmore made a break and Medway were penalised for not releasing in the tackle. Tarbie was on target again. 6-12.   Beckenham marshalled by Cleverley and Blackmore were continually looking to utilise the driving maul. Medway for their part could not capitalise on their scrum and territorial dominance and were making errors. The home side started to look dangerous with robust ball carrying in midfield.  On 40 minutes a cross kick from Tarbie, after the Medway defence was narrowed, was well fielded by Green who scored the try. Tarbie converted and the home side led 13-12. The restart in first half added time saw Medway strike back straight away. They won a line out from Harvey’s excellent restart. Sandison and Stubbington combined well to provide quality ball for Dance and Harvey to set the backs off and a well worked strike saw Orris put away out wide and score. Harvey was on target with the conversion and Medway went into half time leading 19-13.  Medway needed to improve their ball retention and defence in the second half if they were to secure victory against a physical and battling Beckenham side.

The second half started with Medway dominating territory. An early penalty opportunity for Harvey came back off the post and Beckenahm cleared their lines. Medway continued to press but did not score until the 65th minute. A line out drive after Easton had secured possession narrowed the home defence then good handling saw debutant Errington finish out wide. Harvey was on target and the Medway lead went out to 13-26 and a try bonus point secured.  Medway made changes. Jack Nickalls came on for Ross Cooley and Kaine Dimech replaced Rhys Burns. The Medway front row dominance was not diminished by the change.  The last 15 minutes saw Medway break the home sides resolve. Max Bullock now at full back fielded a kick ahead from the home side and broke upfield and drew the defence putting Orris away. He outstripped the cover defence to score the unconverted try. 13-31.  Billy Humphrey then replaced the hardworking Mo Pangarker in the back row. The next try followed when a break from the scrum by James Dance saw some great inter-passing and offloading by forwards and backs alike with Tom Beaumont eventually getting the final touchdown. Harvey added the extras 13-38.  Medway were now dominating. A Beckenham scrum on their 22m line was pushed off their own ball, James Dance seized on the loose ball and stepped the fullback to score. Harvey converted 13-45.  Beckenham to their credit kept battling and a rare foray into the Medway half saw the ball turned over. Medway counter attacked and more inter-passing and offloading up the field saw Jordan Stubbington get the final touch down. Harvey added the extras and Medway ran out winners by 13-52.

Coach Taff Gwilliam said “the scoreline does not reflect how tight this game was for the first hour. There are areas of our game that we need to improve if we are to continue to compete at the top this league”. He added “… very pleasing for the club however is that despite our long injury list more young players are coming through the development squad and stepping up the 1st XV and acquitting themselves well”.

 

Medway 20 Chichester 10 (London 1 South) 09th November 2019

Medway entertained old league rivals Chichester at Priestfields on Saturday in round 9 of this season’s programme. The visitors, always a strong combative side, kicked off and with Medway knocking the ball on  Chichester recovered the ball went two phases and clinically scored after just 53 seconds under the home posts. The try was converted and the visitors had had the dream start 0-7.  Medway are too used to conceding early points so there was no panic and after 4 minutes kicked a penalty through Dan Harvey following a scrum infringement from the visitors. 3-7.  Medway started to dominate possession with their front 5 forwards dominating their counterparts. Cooley, Sandison and O’ Leary were causing all sorts of problems up front ably backed up by man of the match Max Easton and partner Christian Hechter. Despite the domination of possession Medway were unable to breach the visitors line because of handling inaccuracies and butchering an obvious 2 v 1 added to that the solid defence work from Chichester.  On 38 minutes Medway did finally get over the line. A penalty outside the visitors 22m was tapped quickly by James Dance who was through the first line of defence before they could touch him he then stepped the cover defence to score near the posts. Harvey kicked the conversion and Medway went into half time 10-7 to the good.

The home side made a change at half time with young developing prop Jack Nickalls replacing the veteran Ross Cooley.  The second half was kicked off by Medway and the home side looked to keep their visitors pinned back deep in their half. After 6 minutes of the half Medway had a line out from a visitors clearance kick. Bill Sandison and Max Easton combined and good hands by the back division put Orris away on the left who finished brilliantly right in the corner just as the cover defence got to him.  Dan Harvey slotted the conversion from the touchline to put Medway 17-7 ahead.  Chichester are not a side to roll over and they came back. Their back row trio were outstanding all day. Combative at the breakdown and carrying strongly principally through their No 8.  Medway having experienced Chichester’s physicality historically dealt with it well. Tom Beaumont, Mo Pangarker and Jordan Stubbington matching up well physically to the challenge.  With 13 minutes of the clock gone in the second half the Chichester back row finally won a penalty at the breakdown just outside Medway’s 22m, the successful kick narrowing the gap to 17-10.  Medway continued to dominate field position forcing Chichester to play from deep. Good work from Clement backed up by some excellent inter-passing and breaks from teenager Max Bullock and Alfie Orris forced Chichester to concede another penalty. Harvey’s accurate boot made no mistake and Medway went out to 20-10.  To keep the pressure up on their visitors Medway introduced Billy Humphrey, back after a 4 week injury absence. Medway also had to re-shuffle when fullback Rhys Burns, making his first start of the season, cramped up. Captain Tom Beaumont moved to centre and Malcolm Cameron came on in the back row.

With just 2 minutes of the game left Chichester had the chance to secure a losing bonus point, one they probably deserved, with penalty in front of the posts outside the 22m. Inexplicably their kicker who had looked sound all day pushed it just the wrong side of the post. Medway cleared their lines and closed out the game for a hard fought victory against a Chichester side who were stronger than their league position would suggest.

 

Next week Medway travel to Beckenham.

London Cornish 3 Medway 43 (London 1 South) 26th October 2019

Medway travelled to Roehampton on Saturday to take on old rivals London Cornish. On a wet, breezy day but on a pitch with a good playing surface the game kicked off. Medway were soon on the front foot. Good control of the ball pinned the home side back but Cornish defended stoutly until the 10th minute. Having been held up over the line Medway were awarded a 5 metre scrum. The forwards drove their counterparts back for No 8 Jordan Stubbington to control the ball and score. Dan Harvey converted and Medway led 0-7. After 15 minutes Cornish were awarded a penalty when Medway were adjudged offside. The home kicker made no mistake 3-7. From the restart Medway pinned the home side back again and continued to press the home line. Another scrum near their line was won by the visitors. Ross Cooley, Billy Sandison and Alex O’ Leary dominating their counterparts. James Dance and Dan Harvey had the platform to combine for Alfie Orris to power over for the first of his three tries on the day. Dan Harvey converted 3-14. On 25 minutes the impressive Max Easton stole a home line out and the steal was followed by good interplay between Antony Clement, Conor Chalmers and Sam Garofalo. Their combination allowed James Dance the space and he went over under the posts for another converted try by Harvey to put Medway in firm control 3-21. On 30 minutes Medway sealed the bonus point when a scrum was won against the head and good handling saw Max Bullock put Conor Chalmers away out wide to score an unconverted try in the corner making the score 3-26. Although Medway continued to press Cornish but they never gave up and kept their visitors at bay for the rest of the half.

The second half started with Medway introducing Christian Hechter to fray with him replacing the industrious Malcolm Cameron. Utility Mo Pangarker, who is having a good season, moved to the back row to accommodate Hechter at lock. London Cornish were looking to come back into the game. They pressed the Medway line for multiple phases but the visitor’s defence held strong. With 48 minutes on the clock good turnover ball was won from the breakdown. Dan Harvey cross kicked and found Alfie Orris in space and he beat the cover defence to score. Harvey was unsuccessful with the conversion leaving the score at 3-31. Medway were then forced to make another change when Sam Garofalo was forced from the field with an ankle injury. Noah Hyde replacing him. Medway continued to dominate the set piece thus providing the platform for their backs to attack and on 55 minutes they reaped further reward. Max Easton broke the home defensive line and more good interplay with Tom Beaumont, Max Bullock and Alfie Orris involved put Antony Clement away for the try. Harvey converted to make the score 3-38. Medway then introduced young Jack Nickalls at loose head to further his experience at this level veteran Ross Cooley making way for him. The final try of this match saw youthful winger Alfie Orris complete his hat trick. Sandison and Easton combined at the line out to provide quick ball. Good handling by the backs put Orris away and he beat his marker to score an unconverted try making the final score 3-43.

Coach Taff Gwilliam said “this was a good all round performance by the boys against an understrength Cornish side who never gave up” He added “ we hope to get a few of our own missing players back to fitness in during the week off”.

Medway 20 KGS 14 (London 1 South) 19th October 2019

Medway took on the Old Boy’s side in the first ever fixture between the two sides. The game kicked off in dry, breezy but good underfoot conditions. Medway played into the breeze in the first half and their injury hit side suffered an early setback after just 7 minutes when Zach Garratt was forced from the field with a hamstring injury.  On 13 minutes the visitors opened the scoring with a well executed catch and drive drive and with the conversion led 0-7. That lead was extended after 27 minutes when a missed tackle saw the visiting open side crash over under the posts for another converted try and a 0-14 lead. Medway’s cause suffered another set back when Luke Burns was also forced to leave the field with a hamstring injury.  Medway were forced to re-shuffle with captain Tom Beaumont moving to the centre. Christian Hechter and Max Bullock entering the fray.  KGS continued to look the sharper side and a dangerous attack was only thwarted by an early Sam Garofalo tackle without the ball which saw him sent to the sin bin for 10 minutes.  Despite being down to 14 men the Medway scrummage was starting to dominate their visitors. Ross Cooley, Bill Sandison and Alex O’ Leary were providing the home sides pathway back into the game. On 38 minutes the scrum dominance paid dividends when having conceded a series of penalties at the scrum on their own line the referee inevitably awarded Medway a penalty try to make the half time score 7-14.

The second half kicked off and Medway buoyed by the late first half try took the game to visitors pinning them back. A box kick by the KGS scrum half was well fielded by Max Bullock, he offloaded to Jordan Stubbington who broke his markers tackle and fed Antony Clement who in turn gave it to Orris and although tackled short popped the ball up for Captain Tom Beaumont to score. Dan Harvey converted and Medway were level.  Medway were now dominating proceedings and field position, Max Easton, Antony Clement and Alfie Orris particularly prominent.  The field position pressure saw scrum and breakdown penalties given away by the visitors resulting in a yellow card for a deliberate knock on and kickable penalties which Harvey knocked over and put Medway ahead 20-14.  If anyone thought the game was a forgone conclusion with the turnaround were mistaken. The Old boys are a talented outfit and continued to play their brand of rugby stretching Medway time and again. The Old Boys cause was assisted when following injury and another yellow card the scrums became uncontested providing them with a platform that Medway had previously taken away from them.  However there was no further score in the match but in fairness Medway had to defend almost 20 phases on their own line in the last 10 minutes to eek out a victory against the visitors.

Medway coach Taff Gwilliam side “We are delighted to have secured victory against a talented, well organised side especially given the number of injured players we have missing”.

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”