Chobham 12 Medway 23 (London 1 South) – 06th October 2018

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.

Medway 66 London Cornish 26 (London 1 South) – 29th September 2018

Medway entertained London Cornish at Priestfields on Saturday in bright sunny conditions on an excellent playing surface. Both teams came into the match following tough won victories the previous week.  The game kicked off and Medway started sharply and went close early on. Alfie Orris and Ryan Redman combining to threaten the visitors line. Cornish survived with some good last ditch defence. Medway maintained the pressure and a penalty in front of the post for offside saw Redman kick successfully and the home side led 3-0.  London Cornish had a chance to hit back straight away but an errant throw at the line out turned the ball over. Medway cleared their lines successfully.  On 14 minutes Medway produced some superb teamwork. Excellent carries led by team Captain Mike Gardner and centre Charlie Wardzynski saw Medway go through several phases and stretch the visitors defence. Accurate hands and good breakdown work eventually enabled Redman to scamper over between the posts for a try he converted himself and a 10-0 lead.  The home side had their tails up and and more great work at the breakdown from Lewis Stimpson and Tom Beaumont caught the visitors defence napping. James Dance was too quick and before they could re-organise he exploited the space to score under the posts. Redman added the conversion and Medway were 17-0 to the good.  London Cornish looked to get back into the game and managed to create an overlap out wide but inaccurate hands saw the ball go to ground Beaumont gathered the ball up. Wardzynski in support made a break and good ball handling put Conor Chalmers away to score out wide. The conversion was missed but Medway were playing their best rugby of the season to date.  The quality of Medway’s rugby continued as they secured the kick off Panikoula and Stubbington backed up by Richard Petch were giving nothing away for the visitors to feed off. A great midfield break from Adam Dady provided front foot ball. Beaumont and Orris combined for the latter to break some last ditch tackles and score in the corner. The try bonus point was secured after just 27 minutes. A great touchline conversion from Redman put Medway ahead 29-0.  Medway were playing all the rugby and Cornish were defending desperately. A high tackle in front of the Cornish posts on Redman saw him add the 3 points and put the lead out 32-0.  Medway continued to press London Cornish at every opportunity and on 36 minutes Gardner, leading by example, won a penalty when Cornish were penalised for holding on. Redman kicked the penalty and Medway went in at half time 35-0 up. This was Medway’s finest half of rugby this season.

The second half kicked off and Cornish with their pride dented were not going to capitulate. Medway infringed at the kick off and Cornish kicked into the corner. Their catch and drive was thwarted but smart play saw them attack the blindside and eventually score in the corner. An excellent touchline kick saw the try successfully converted. 35-7.  Medway bounced back straight from the kick off. Young 18 year old debutant fullback Zachary Garratt made a break in midfield the ball was re-cycled well for Orris to race away and score under the posts. The conversion was kicked by Redman and and Medway led 42-7.  Medway continued to play all the rugby and were soon hammering away at the Cornish defence. To their credit they continued to defend phase after phase but a kick over the top by Redman saw Wardzynski win the race for the touchdown and Medway were on the scoreboard again. With the try unconverted Medway now led 47-7.  London Cornish are a team who never give up and despite being well behind on the scoreboard were still looking to play. That endeavour was rewarded when a combination of good play from the visitors, combined with poor height in the contact area from Medway, saw Cornish breach the Medway line. The try was converted to bring the score back to 47-14.  This game was a great spectacle for the large crowd and Medway delighted them once more with some great team play. Beaumont provided the break off some excellent line out work from the Billy Humphrey, Jordan Stubbington combination. The ball was released to Rusty Clement, having his finest game of the season, for him to cut an excellent line and score. Redman converted to make the lead 54-14.  On 65 minutes Medway once again broke the Cornish defence. James Dance put the ball behind the visitors defence Wardzynski re-gathered the ball drew the last defender and fed Adam Dady for him to score under the posts. With the conversion Medway extended their lead to 61-14. That was Dady’s last act as he was replaced by young Dan Goodall.  Medway’s attacking play was irresistible with Charlie Wardzynski causing havoc with the Cornish defence. Medway once again breached the visitors line. Good breakdown work from Amon Panikoula and Tom Whitnell backed up by quality handling put Orris away to complete his hatrick of tries. The conversion was missed but Medway were 66-14 ahead.  London Cornish are a proud team and never give up. In the last 3 minutes of the game they ran in two great tries. Sloppy defence from Medway with the game won combined with the visitor’s real ambition saw them twice play from their own half (one of them on their own goal line) and score to achieve an excellent try bonus point.   Medway were victorious 66-26. A great entertaining game for those spectators present.

Medway coach Taff Gwilliam said ‘ Whilst I was a little disappointed with the final few minutes, credit to Cornish for not giving in, it does not detract  from the fact that I am absolutely delighted with the attacking rugby we played today. I thought we played some irresistible stuff. Everybody played their part. This was a superb team performance and a great result’.


Thurrock 10 Medway 20 (London 1 South) 22nd September 2018

Medway travelled to Essex on Saturday to take on a Thurrock side who were performing well off the back of some fine early season victories. In wet conditions both sides made some early handling errors making the early exchanges very scrappy but it was Medway who had the first chance to lead but the long range kick went wide.  On 13 minutes Thurrock were caught offside at the breakdown and a kick to the corner saw Medway execute a fine catch and drive.

Billy Humphrey secured the touchdown following excellent work from the rest of the forwards. Ryan Redman added the conversion and Medway led 0-7.  On 21 minutes Thurrock again penalised and a kick into the 22 saw Medway backs attack midfield forcing Thurrock to concede another penalty.  Redman made no mistake from in front of the posts. 0-10.  Thurrock are a strong resilient team and carried the ball well and should have scored on 21 minutes when, as they seemed certain to score, lost control of the ball. Medway initially cleared their lines then came under pressure again with repeated short range drives at their line. Again Thurrock seemed certain to score but good defence forced the error and the Medway line remained intact.  Thurrock were playing well and did eventually get the score their play deserved. A fine break on the half way line off a line out saw them execute quick ball off phases and score an unconverted try out wide to narrow the gap to 5-10. With half time imminent Thurrock were reduced to 14 men following what the referee deemed a dangerous tackle. Within minutes of that they were further depleted when their winger was adjudged to have deliberately knocked on and also went to the bin. Medway failed to score with virtually the final play of the half and went in 5-10 ahead.

The second half kicked off with Thurrock immediately making an error but from the scrummage Medway despite having a two man advantage failed to capitalise. The sin bin time had almost run out when Medway finally took advantage.  On 47 minutes a line out was won and good basic hands say Medway utilise their extras numbers and space to score a unconverted try in the corner and put the lead out to 5-15. Thurrrock were back up to compliment shortly afterwards and would have been pleased to just concede the single score. They had defended well.  On 54 minutes Medway secured good field position and had a short range scrummage near the Thurrock line. Medway drove but Thurrock conceded back to back penalties. Medway opted for the scrum each time and eventually scored the pushover with excellent work from all the forwards and good ball control from Billy Humphrey at the base. The conversion was missed but Medway now led 5-20. With 10 minutes remaining it was Medway’s turn to feel the wrath of the referee when they conceded back to back penalties. Thurrock kicked for the corner and executed a well driven catch and drive to score. The conversion was missed 10-20.  The last minute of the game saw Thurrock run a penalty from their own half although defended by Medway initially Thurrock win phases and Medway concede another penalty at the breakdown. With no time left Thurrock opted for the kick to try and earn a losing bonus point but the kick went wide of the upright.  Medway were the victors against a tough, resilient and well organised Thurrock team who on reflection will consider themselves unfortunate not to have got a lot more from this game.
Medway coach Taff Gwilliam said “ This was a real tough match. It always is here and we are delighted to have got the win. It wasn’t pretty both sides had their chances but our set piece was key to the victory” he added “ Thurrock are a good team and I think they will do well this season”