Heathfield and Waldron 10 Medway 51 (London South East 2) – 8th April 2017

Medway’s final league game of the season was at Heathfield and Waldron on Saturday and was played in beautiful spring weather that attracted a large crowd supporting both teams. Medway had secured the league championship several weeks earlier and were playing for pride; Heathfield were “reasonably” safe from relegation but a win would make avoiding the drop an almost certainty. Despite their lowly league position, Heathfield’s form at their home ground has been impressive having won five of their games and no side has beaten them by more than five points.
Medway kicked-off playing up the slight slope and Heathfield showed, straight from the start, that they were no slouches and ran with real purpose. After an even start, an Alfie Orris break through the middle set up a Medway scrum close to the home try line. The visitor’s forwards went to work, and presented Jordan Stubbington with a push over opportunity that he did not waste. Heathfield then edged the next twenty minutes and enjoyed good field position and several good scoring opportunities. Henry Hall chased back to make an outstanding try saving tackle; the Heathfield kicker missed two penalty shots on goal; the home side did score a good converted try after 20 minutes wide out on the left after good approach play; the well struck conversion gave them a deserved 7 – 5 lead. After more good play from Heathfield, Medway’s second row Tom Sandison, hit the line at pace on half way and surprisingly raced away from the covering defence to score an excellent individual try, against the run of play.
Heathfield levelled the scores with a simple penalty on the half hour mark but from this point in the game, Medway began to take control. Heavy pressure resulted in a yellow card for the Heathfield flanker and a simple 3 pointer for Wardzynski. Then just before the interval, the Dance brothers combined well for Ben to touch down under the posts and Medway had quickly opened up a 20 – 10 half time lead.
Playing with the slope, the second half belonged to Medway and they went on to dominate the game and score a further five tries. The forwards provided a plentiful supply of ball and the backs scored some well executed tries. Ben Dance scored his second; Eighteen year old Jordan Stubbington recorded a hat-trick; Henry Hall and Alfie Orris also got on the score sheet. Fly half Charlie Wardzynski kicked three second half conversions.
Medway’s eighth and final try of the game was celebrated the most as it notched up their 1000th point in the league for the season, an impressive achievement and means they have averaged over 45 points per game.
Overall, a very successful season with twenty one victories and just a single narrow loss. Well done to the whole squad including the coaching team who have prepared the players so well.
Medway’s team;
Petch, Sandison, O’Leary, Fernyhough, T Sandison, Beaumont, Stubbington, Huntley, J Dance, Wardzynski, B Dance, Hall, Walsh, Orris, Garofalo, Sub; Clement (used).

Medway Extra 1st 45 Old Alleynians (II) 5 – 25th March 2017

The Extras welcomed Old Alleynians to a very blustery Priestfields keen to go out with a win in their last home game of the season.

Medway kicked off with the strong wind behind them and were soon encamped in the O.A’s half as the forwards looked to exert some early dominance. They had plenty of opportunities to do so as the blustery conditions forced a series of knock-ons and not straight line-out throws that kept the scrum count high. It was from one such set piece that saw the pack win the ball against the head before it was sent to centre Sam Sharpe who crashed through the OA’s defence before sensibly popping the ball up in the tackle to No.8 Toby Gerdes-Hansen who finished of  under the posts from five yards. With a successful Si Rumsey conversion Medway had a 7 – 0 lead but they had to wait for fifteen minutes to increase it as yet more handling errors and line-out problems put paid to any composure and rhythm that the coaching team were looking for. When the score finally came it was further evidence of the forwards power as a five metre scrum saw them push OA’s back over the line for a simple touch down for flanker Pete Ward who had controlled well at the back. Another Rumsey conversion saw the score move to 14 – 0 and Medway now settled down as they secured the restart well and went through the phases moving deep into the OA’s twenty-two. A penalty at a ruck gave Medway possession and with line-outs having been disastrous for both sides all afternoon and with Medway having just scored from a pushover you could perhaps understand Coach Essenhigh’s screamed instruction of ‘Take the scrum’ followed by his screamed expletives as Rumsey kicked for touch. On this occasion however all went well as Medway secured the ball and set up a rolling maul that ended with flanker Dave French diving over the line to increase the lead to 19 – 0. OA’s restarted with some real determination and enjoyed their best period of possession of the half as they exerted pressure on the Medway defence helped by a number of needless penalties. Medway managed to keep them out however and following good work on the ground by props John Dugan and Andy Connell they managed to turn the ball over. The backs brought the ball out of defence before Rumsey chipped over the OA’s defensive line with Sharpe reaching it first. He made ground before passing to full back Steve Stewart who in turn found winger Matt Brightman who continued the run before executing the two-on-one perfectly with an inside ball back to Stewart who ran in under the posts for a well executed try and a half time lead of 24 – 0.

Medway started the second half in style as flanker Dan O’Brien secured the restart and ran straight through the OA’s defence before passing to Pete Ward who made another twenty yards before being tackled. He offloaded to Sharpe who was in close support and he beat the final defender with some ease to touch down under the posts for a 31 – 0 lead. OA’s now had the wind behind them and set about trying to keep Medway pinned back in their half with some tactical kicking but every time they missed touch they found Steve Stewart ready to run straight back at them. It was one such occasion that led to Medway’s sixth try as Stewart collected a loose ball and set of at pace beating three defenders with great footwork before passing to O’Brien who ran in under the posts from the halfway line to secure a 38 – 0 lead. In fairness to OA’s they refused to give up and now spent the next ten minutes in the Medway twenty-two forcing penalties that they refused to kick to touch. Instead they looked to take them quickly with tap and goes which kept Medway on the backfoot until they finally succeeded in driving over the line for their solitary score of the afternoon. Medway restarted and came straight back on the attack sealing their win as the forwards again pushed OA’s off the ball at a scrum allowing Gerdes-Hansen to pick up and make ground before offloading to Sharpe who ran in his second try for a final score of 45 – 5.

Whilst this was not the best Medway performance of the season they certainly did enough to finish their home league programme with a win that keeps them second in the table. We must say a big thank you to Old Alleynians who never gave up and made things very difficult for the Extras. We wish them well for their last games and look forward to locking horns with them again next season. A big thank you also to ref Mr Willis who was consistent in his decision making and ran things sensibly and in a calm and measured fashion that allowed the lads to play.

 

Medway Squad:  John Dugan,  Mark Coveney, Andy Connell, Tom Sandison, Dan Goodall, Dave French, Dan O’Brien, Toby Gerdes-Hansen, Ben Wellard, Si Rumsey, Rhys Burns, Mitch Dent, Sam Sharpe, Matt Brightman, Steve Stewart, Pete Ward, Sean Crittenden

Tonbridge Judds 71 Medway Dev 12 – 04th March 2017

A scratch team of only 15 with several playing out of (key) positions and most importantly a very good, well drilled TJ’s team meant that even with the occasional hints of sunshine it was always going to be a difficult day in Tonbridge.

The first half started well with a bit of early toing and froing but no real danger from TJ’s, when what everyone first thought of as a mirage turned out to be a Matt Cross took a loose ball from TJ’s well in the air and was clumsily high tackled giving Meds a player advantage. Despite a lot of effort Meds were unable to capitalise and TJ’s broke out quickly to score the first of their 11 tries.

Medway were a little stunned and took a while to get sorted out in defence so that TJ’s looked dangerous whenever they had the ball in hand. Meds tackling was tenacious though a bit hit and miss at times as the TJ’s team had some good big ball carriers who seemed to have been dipped in Teflon…everyone falling off tackles at some stage. The pack gradually started to come to grips with their opposition and our lineout was firing pretty well as Greg Woodward’s muscle memory of throwing started to kick in. Medway’s attack was also getting some joy and causing the odd worry line on TJ’s faces…

The evergreen (Verdigris?) Mo O’Brien took a few seconds to put a finger back in to its proper place around the 20-minute mark and then threw himself back into the fray…this display of manliness clearly inspired his teammates to great things…

Just past the midpoint of the half with TJ’s only 3 tries up Medway broke quickly from a scrum just inside the oppositions half and Mark Shepherd offloaded to Sean Crittenden who, seeing a gap big enough for his…insert your own word here…to slip through found himself in acres of space. He clearly heard my shout to go to the corner and fighting the urge to pass (!), in his own words he “burned the full back with pace and a little inside step” to score Medway’s first try.

Unfortunately, despite the odd half chance the rest of the half was nearly all TJ’s and ended 24-5.

The second half started promisingly for Medway as a series of pick and goes ended with the battering ram that as Tom “Smiler” Smith crashing over for Med’s second try with Stan Orris adding the extras.

Surprised but not unduly worried by it TJ’s big Teflon ball carriers started running some lovely attacking lines as their pack gained the ascendancy with Meds starting to tire, subs being in non-existent supply. That isn’t to say that they had it all their way as our pack went toe to toe with them, Luke Robertson in particular making himself an absolute nuisance in defence and attack and our hard-tackling backs including debutante Forrest Hall were fighting a rear-guard action. Freddie Tolhurst who openly professes to dislike playing 9 gave a good impression of one and kept plugging away to get Medway on the front foot with some quick and decisive passing and sniping and Mark Shepherd tried different things to try and find a weakness in TJ’s defence. The match ended 71-12 to TJ’s which though a fair indication of their attacking ability doesn’t really show how much closer the game was for large periods.

The whole team gave everything for the Medway cause in this game and skipper Jamie Settle kept the team going with his iron will. With everyone pushing for MoM the decision was a tough one…but Luke Robertson step forward.

A big thank you to the Referee too as he was outstanding and kept it a good fair flowing game.

At some point, I even tried the motivation of a free pint…thankfully for me an impressed Jeff Robertson shared the wallet pain…thank you Jeff…For those of you who haven’t had it as you needed to go to work or rush off…see me next time I am at the bar…

Never give up, never stop trying, always give 100%…the Medway spirit exemplified by this game’s 15…

Next week we owe Deal & Betteshanger…training and availability…let’s have a great response in both…

GC

Medway Team: Petch M, Settle J (C), Woodward G, Carroll R, Wilkinson J (Woody), Robertson L, Smith T (Smiler), O’Brien M (Mo), Tolhurst F, Shepherd M, Cross M, Crittenden S, Balderston D, Hall F, Orris S.