Charlton Park 7 Medway 83 (Kent shield final) – 30th April 2017

Medway travelled to Canterbury RFC on Sunday for their final game of the season to face Charlton Park in the Kent Shield Final.  Charlton play in the Intermediate Cup Final next Saturday, 6th May, at rugby’s HQ Twickenham, and thus rested their entire first XV ready for the far more important business in only six days’ time. With a near full strength Medway team available, not unsurprisingly, the game was a one sided affair and Medway won at a canter. Charlton’s players however, held their heads high, never gave up, and tackled to the very end.
Medway played up the slope, into the wind in the first half and it took a few minutes for them to settle into the game. Once they got going, they scored seven tries in the first half, led by 43 -7 at half time and then went on to score a further six tries in the second half. Medway scorers were; three for Tom Beaumont; three for Alfie Orris; two each for Henry Hall and Luke Burns; One for Charlie Wardzynski and Dan Harvey; One penalty try and Dan Harvey kicked 9 conversions.
Medway did get some value from the game as Dan Goodall (second row) and Dan O’Brian (back row) made impressive first XV debuts and will be fighting to feature prominently for next season.
Thanks go to Canterbury Rugby Club who did a brilliant job of hosting the Kent Finals day.
Best of luck to Charlton Park next week in their big game at Twickenham against West Leeds. If they manage to win, a Kent club will have won this National competition for the past three years which must reflect well on the strength of junior rugby in the region.
Medway’s team;
Cooley, Sandison, O’Leary, Goodall, Easton, Beaumont, Humphrey, Huntley, J Dance, D Harvey, Burns, B Dance, Clement, Orris, Wardzynski, Subs; D O’Brien, Petch, Hall, Walsh (all used).

Invicta Cup Final – Medway Extra 43 Sidcup (II) 17 – 22nd April 2017

A good crowd of Medway supporters made the short trip down Bluebell Hill to the neutral ground of Aylesford RFC to watch the Extra’s last game of the season – the Invicta Cup Final. Their opponents, Sidcup, had already won the Invicta League title in some style having only lost one game and they were therefore on a quest for the ‘double’.

Medway started brightly having by far the best of the possession and they took an early lead when the ball was sent along the backs from a scrum on the Sidcup twenty-two. Winger Matt Brightman took the final pass heading for the line but he was stopped just short fighting hard to retain possession and setting up a ruck that the forwards hit with real aggression. As the ball came back Al Waterman reacted well picking up and burrowing over for the first score and, with a successful Si Rumsey conversion, Sidcup restarted 7 – 0 down. Medway again enjoyed large periods of possession and were playing most of the rugby in the Sidcup half thanks to some excellent work on the ground by Ben Shove, Andy Connell and Mark Coveney all off whom succeeded in turning over Sidcup ball. With Rumsey kicking well for territory Sidcup were finding it hard to get any sustained periods of possession and were restricted to the odd break from the backs one of which nearly saw them level as a hack through was chased by their centre but as the ball came to rest in the try area it was Brightman who got there first to touch down for a twenty-two. Medway nearly increased their lead when an excellent cross field kick from Rumsey rolled invitingly into the Sidcup try area but as winger Rhys Burns fell on it he appeared to knock it on and the try wasn’t given.  A couple of changes up front saw John Dugan in to the front row and Toby Gerdes-Hansen on at No.8 adding to the bulk in the pack and giving Medway even more power at the scrum which they used to great effect winning a number of penalties which allowed them to make their way on to the Sidcup five metre line. After five scrums and five Sidcup penalties referee Mr Huntley had had enough awarding Medway a deserved penalty try and showing the Sidcup scrum-half a yellow card. A hard fought half came to an end with Medway 14 – 0 up but knowing that there was still plenty to do.

The second half started with Medway gaining a foothold early on from yet another Sidcup penalty this time for a high tackle which saw another yellow card. Rumsey kicked to touch and the ball was knocked on in the line out but when Sidcup’s throw wasn’t straight they handed control straight back to the Medway forwards who were now dominant at the scrum. It was therefore no surprise to see the forwards drive Sidcup back across the try line allowing Pete Ward, back on at No.8, to control the ball well at the back before falling on it for a 19 – 0 lead. Sidcup now came back into the game and enjoyed their best period of possession which they certainly made the most of scoring two well worked forwards tries which saw props crashing over firstly from a ruck and then from a quickly taken tap and go penalty to bring the score back to 19 – 12. The game was now in the balance with Sidcup realising that they were still very much in it and Medway realising that their opponents would not give up and were more than capable of punishing any mistakes. The Medway coaching team agreed that the next score would decide the winners and instructions were sent on to make sure that everyone stayed focussed on what they were doing and to maintain discipline. With the forwards still dominating scrums and flankers Tom Brown and Dan O’Brien performing well at lineouts, Medway maintained their composure allowing scrum half Sam Garofalo and Rumsey to steer the team around the pitch well. Sidcup defended well and made a number of breaks into Medway territory but some excellent mid field defence from centres Rhys Townsend and Sam Sharpe kept them at bay. The next score went to Medway as quick ball along the backs from a scrum on the Sidcup twenty-two saw full back Steve Stewart take the final pass and sprint over the line for their fourth try and, with another Rumsey conversion, a 26 – 12 lead. Sidcup are a very good side and they continued to threaten getting close to the Medway line on number of occasions but some excellent and dogged defence managed to keep them out. Medway slowly made their way back into Sidcup territory with second row Dan Goodall leading the way with some excellent battering runs but Sidcup kept coming back and they were unlucky to concede the next try as a pass went astray and fell kindly to winger Rhys Burns who collected it and ran in unopposed from the Medway ten metre line to touch down under the posts for a 33 – 12 lead. Still Sidcup refused to give up and they scored their third try from yet another quickly taken penalty that Medway hadn’t learned to deal with. At 33 – 17 the game was still not done as Sidcup again forced Medway to defend well. As the sun came out and players started to feel the effects of what had been a hard fought game, Medway emptied their bench bringing on Ben Wellard at scrum half for the excellent Garofalo, Bobby Ellis in the centre for the injured Townsend and Ben Edgar on the wing for the hard working Brightman. With fifteen minutes left the game took a decisive turn as a Sidcup red card reduced them to fourteen and from the penalty Medway sealed the game with a catch and drive line out that saw Ward again touch down from the back for a 38 – 17 score. The last score came as the forwards yet again pushed Sidcup back in the scrum allowing Wellard to set the backs free with Burns taking the final pass to score Medway’s seventh try, a final score of 43 – 17 and victory in the inaugural Invicta Cup.

This was a very good game to watch with both teams playing some attractive rugby. Our thanks go to Aylesford for hosting the final and also to the man in the middle Mr Huntley who refereed the game calmly and professionally.

We must also say thank you to Sidcup. They have had an excellent season losing only one game throughout the league programme and they are to be congratulated on this fantastic performance. They have worked hard for their league title and thoroughly deserve it. Today however was Medway’s day. These lads have also worked hard this season and we, the coaching team, have been pleased with the consistency in team selection, the commitment and the desire to learn. This is the squad that has represented the Extra’s all season – and they have done the club proud. Thank you and well done lads !!

SB

Medway Squad:  Andy Connell, Mark Coveney, Al Waterman, Ben Shove, Dan Goodall, Tom Brown, Dan O’Brien, Pete Ward, Sam Garofalo, Si Rumsey, Rhys Burns, Rhys Townsend, Sam Sharpe, Matt Brightman, Steve Stewart, Ben Wellard, Toby Gerdes-Hansen, John Dugan, Bobby Ellis, Ben Edgar

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).

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.