Medway 43 Cobham 14 (London 1 South) 16th February 2019

Medway entertained Surrey side Cobham on Saturday at Priestfields on a fine day for Rugby. Having won the previous meeting between these two sides with a fortunate last minute score the home side were under no illusions as to the test they were to face. With a number of changes from the previous week’s narrow win at Hove the game kicked off.  Medway were immediately on the front foot and dominating the opening exchanges. Despite concerted pressure on the Cobham line, back to back errors after 9 minutes, saw Cobham gain good field position against the run of play and clinically score a well taken converted try from their winger. 0-7  Medway despite this setback again pressed the visitors line with good continuity in their play. The front row of Sandison, Petch and O’Leary were getting the better of their opponents thus providing the platform.  On 14 minutes they forced the visitors to concede a kickable penalty which Daniel Harvey duly obliged with. 3-7.  Medway from the re-start once again took play deep into the Cobham 22 and again the visitors were penalised for offside. Medway opted for the scrum and excellent handling saw Orris beat his marker to score an unconverted try in the corner. 8-7.  The visitors continual propensity to concede offside penalties saw them reduced to 14 men. Harvey kicked the resultant penalty to make the score 11-7. That was the only score of the sin bin period.  The rest of the half saw both sides trying to gain the ascendency but sound defence and a couple of unforced errors ensured no lines were crossed. Cobham had a kickable opportunity but the effort sailed wide of the posts. Medway having played against the breeze went in at half time 11-7 to the good.

The second half kicked off and early Medway errors when in possession dented their initial hopes of a fast start but on 45 minutes a well executed catch and drive line out saw Max Easton get the final touchdown. Harvey converted and Medway increased their lead to 18-7.  That lead however was soon cut when a Cobham cross kick bounced cruelly back over the head of the home defender for the winger to re-gather and score a converted try. 18-14.  On 53 minutes Medway were back on the front foot. Yet another penalty from the visitors saw Medway opt for the scrum and following good early defence from the visitors Medway eventually breached their line. Alfie Orris on the end of some fine interplay and quick phase ball, orchestrated by Garofalo and Harvey, to crash over under posts for his second try converted by Harvey. 25-14.  Medway were now dominating field position and concerted pressure on the visitor’s line saw replacement prop Gary Beck, making his home debut, drive over from short range for an unconverted try extending Medway’s lead to 30-14 on the hour mark.  Straight from the re-start Medway attacked again. Good work from Amon Panikoula, Dan Huntley and Jordan Stubbington saw the ball moved wide with excellent hands from Harvey, man of the match, Antony Clement and Charlie Wardzynski. Young Zach Garratt broke the defensive line. Again good continuity saw Sam Sharpe on hand to finish a great team try . Harvey kicked the conversion from the touchline and Medway stretched the lead out to 37-14.  A couple of late accurate Harvey penalties made the final score 43-14. Medway’s strong finish ensured the bonus point victory they needed to maintain their challenge at the top of the league.

Coach Taff Gwilliam said ‘For large parts of this game the sides were pretty even but our improved set piece from last week and better discipline allowed us to pull away and seal the win’. He added ‘As coaches we asked for improvement and against a well organised opposition, who we know have ability, that is what we got’

Medway Extra 45 Westcombe Park II 21 (Invicta 1) 09th February 2019

Westcombe Park were the visitors to a sunny and windy Priestfields for what turned out to be a very enjoyable game with some excellent rugby.  Medway kicked off with the strong wind at their backs and were soon camped in the Park half as their opponents struggled to settle. The early pressure told as Medway kicked to touch from a penalty, secured the line out and sent the ball to centre Sam Sharpe who crashed through two defenders to score under the posts for the first converted try of the game and a 7-0 lead.  Medway took the restart through Adam Dady who made a great break right through the middle of the Park defence before finally being stopped on their ten metre line. The forwards were quick to the break down securing the ball for the backs who reacted well sending it down the the line before finding winger Kaine Dimech who ran in under the posts for a 14-0 lead. Park restarted deep but Medway again secured it well and took their time getting settled before finding centre Pete Walsh just inside the twenty two. He barrelled through two tacklers and set off up the middle looking for support before finally being brought to ground just outside the Park twenty two.  Medway again secured the ball and continued the forward momentum with some pick and drives before another penalty gave them the opportunity to kick for touch to set up another attacking line out ten metres out. The line out was going well and the forwards took it easily before setting up a driving maul that was well controlled at the back by hooker Billy Humphrey. Park were unable to stop it and Humphrey scored a well worked try for a 19-0 lead. Park seemed rattled by Medway’s express start and when the restart went straight out they handed the initiative back to the Medway forwards who were now dominating the scrum. They succeeded in pushing Park back ten metres before being awarded the inevitable penalty which Medway took quickly to keep the pressure on. The ball went out to the left wing before coming back inside to fly half Max Bullock who showed good footwork to beat the covering defender scoring under the posts and then converting to take the score to 26-0. Park finally woke up and began to play some decent rugby of their own maintaining possession and control and making their way towards the Medway line. Medway defended well however and managed to recover a loose ball on the ground which Bullock cleared. Medway then stole the Park line out and came back on the attack with Walsh being fed the ball just outside the Park twenty two. He again showed his strength beating two tackles to run in their fifth try for a half time score of 33-0.

The talk at half time talk was about staying calm and not conceding easy points and so it was disappointing when Medway failed to deal with the restart gifting the ball straight to a chasing Park forward who took the loose ball and charged straight through a disorganised defence for a soft converted try under the posts. Medway restarted but were soon under pressure again as Park took it well and began to move through the phases gaining ground before releasing their centre who, helped by some poor tackling, ran through for their second converted try. Medway restarted with their lead reduced to 33-14 and needing to reassert some authority. The experienced hands in the forwards took control happy to keep possession and gain ground slowly. Park became frustrated and a number of penalties allowed Medway to reach the five metre line where another lineout saw the ball worked to Bullock who spotted a gap in the defence and glided through it for a 38-14 lead. With ten minutes left Medway sealed the win when another penalty saw them take the scrum, an area where they had dominated all game, securing quick ball for Sharpe who again crashed through the defence for his second try and a 45-14 lead. To their credit Park came back and scored their third try but it was too little too late as Medway secured the points with a 45-21 win.  This was another good Extra’s performance with some excellent rugby mixed in with the odd lapse in concentration but overall they were the better team and deserved the win. Our thanks to Westcombe Park for a hard fought game played in an excellent spirit. It has been good to have them back in the Invicta league and we wish them well for the rest of the season. Our thanks also to referee Mr Weller who had a good game and was consistent throughout.

Medway Squad: Al Waterman, Billy Humphrey (Capt), Jack Nickalls, Johnny Smith, Rhys Gue, Dan O’Brien, Malcolm Cameron, Adam Dady, Bobby Ellis, Max Bullock, Kaine Diemch, Tony Walsh, Sam Sharpe, Matt Brightman, Rhys Burns, Tom Huntley, Sean Crittenden, Ruan Schuling, James Bullock

Hove 29 Medway 33 (London 1 South) 09th February 2019

Medway travelled to a wet and windy Sussex on Saturday to take on the league’s bottom side Hove needing a win to maintain their challenge for the league title. Medway were forced into some last minute changes but nonetheless still fielded a strong side.  The game kicked off and Hove pinned Medway back in their 22. Medway looked to exit but made too many errors allowing the home side to maintain the pressure and on 6 minutes Hove capitalised with a smart try out wide following good hands. The try was unconverted.  On 12 minutes Medway responded with an excellent move off a scrum which gave Alfie Orris the space to beat 2 cover defenders and score in the corner. Dan Harvey kicked an excellent conversion to put Medway in the lead 7-5.  From the re-start Medway once again made unforced errors and provided Hove with another scoring opportunity near their line. Hove were clinical in their execution with fine handling scored another unconverted try to regain the lead at 10-7.  Hove strengthened with a number of players returning from injury looked anything but the league’s basement club and were worthy leaders.

Medway needed to put their game together and despite a misfiring set piece were next to score. An initial break in the 21st minute from Sam Garofalo was supported by the forwards with good interplay from Lewis Stimpson, Amon Panikoula, Dan Huntley and on more than one occasion Tom Beaumont. This created space for Alfie Orris who showed his finishing skills to beat defenders and score in the corner. A quality conversion from Harvey once again saw Medway re-gain the lead 10-14.  With 27 minutes gone on the clock Medway scored again. Young Zach Garratt fielded a loose kick from Hove in his own half. He carried the ball back to his forwards. They and the backs combined well to go through a number of phases Tom Whitnell, Joe Fernyhough, Richard Petch and Alex O’ Leary all contributing to provide the platform for Harvey and Charlie Wardzynski to feed Zach Garratt, on his opposite wing, who in turn created the space for Orris to complete a fine hatrick of tries. Harvey covered and Medway had pushed their lead out to 21-10  Medway were starting to look the sharper side now and that was epitomised in their next try.  Winning the ball in their own 22m Medway attacked from deep. Sam Garofalo and Alfie Orris both made telling contributions as the ball was taken into the home 22m. Good controlled quick ball phases beat the home side’s scramble defence for Antony Clement to round off a fine team try wide out on the right. The conversion was missed but Medway had sealed the try bonus point before half time.

The second half kicked off with Medway putting the ball deep into the home sides 22m. A couple of carries from their forwards then saw them try to clear their lines however the poor kick out was fielded by Garratt who made good ground to link with his forwards. The forwards then showed good handling skills with their interplay and crated the space for Harvey to crash over. He converted his own try and Medway were well ahead by 10-33.  In previous games at this point Hove would have been staring a large defeat in the face. But recent performances and renewed confidence with returning players have galvanised the side. Their coaches encouraging the team to play with freedom saw them not give in but step up with renewed vigour.  On 49 minutes Hove narrowed the gap when following period of sustained pressure they eventually scored out wide on the back of some poor Medway defence. The try was unconverted making the score 15-33.  Medway were making too many unforced errors and this was compounded when in the 54th minute Dan Huntley was sin binned for a breakdown offence.  Hove took advantage of their numerical superiority and scored a well taken try. Medway’s defence was found wanting and following good hands down their line Hove secured the try bonus point for the third consecutive match.  Medway were stung into action and pressed the Hove line well. They created a number of good scoring chances. Gary Beck was prominent in breaking the home defensive line but but these chances all went begging on the back of poor decisions or execution. In failing to put the game out of reach with these excellent opportunities it gave Hove further opportunity to narrow the gap.  On 67 minutes Hove did just that when they broke out from their 22 and moved the ball to their winger. He kicked ahead and won the footrace to score. With the conversion they managed to bring the score back to 29-33 and were looking to win the game.

Medway soon after created another fine scoring chance but once again failed to finish it. Hove for their part threw everything into the last 10 minutes of the game to try and break out but Medway despite, conceding a number of late penalties, kept Hove pinned back in their own half to close the game out and secure victory.  Despite a number of late changes to the side Medway won the game but will look at their error count and know that they were fortunate to escape with the victory. Hove played with an ambition and freedom that belied their league position.  Whilst they will not escape the inevitable drop recent performances have shown that they have the ability, spirit skill to bounce back.

Medway Coach Taff Gwilliam said ‘we are obviously happy to have secured a win with a bonus point but we need to seriously look at this performance as certain elements of it were simply not good enough and the players know it’. He added ‘We must congratulate the Hove side on a fine performance. They played without fear and were worthy of their try bonus point’.

Medway 45 Chobham 12 (London 1 South) – 26th January 2019

Medway hosted Surrey side Chobham at a wet and windy Priestfields on Saturday. Having won narrowly away at Chobham in the reverse fixture earlier in the year Medway were keen to maintain their challenge for top honours in the league.  Medway kicked off playing into the stiff breeze and rain and despite these conditions dominated the opening exchanges.  Good ball retention and playing some excellent phases saw Medway eventually win a scrum close to the visitor’s line. Medway’s forwards dominated the set piece and after a couple of penalties and further scrummage options Medway eventually narrowed the visitor’s defence for Conor Chalmers score in the corner. Dan Harvey, considering the conditions, landed a superb touchline conversion. 7-0.  On 17 minutes Medway found themselves on their own 5m defending a scrum after a misfire at the line out. Superb scrummaging saw Medway win the ball against the head and breakout from defence. Excellent play provided the space for Conor Chalmers to race in 65 metres out for his second try. Harvey converted and the home side led 14-0.  With the front five of Petch, Sandison, O’Leary, Stubbington and Panikoula dominating their counterparts the platform was set for Medway to play an excellent high tempo game which found the visitors hanging on desperately.  On 26 minutes Medway attacked from the scrum. Stimpson, Beaumont and Huntley all combined well to provide space for Clement to completely wrong foot the visitor’s defence with a dummy and score under the posts. Harvey was again on target and Medway led 21-0.  Medway then lost Lewis Stimpson to a head injury and he was replaced by the hard working Joe Fernyhough.

Medway were playing some excellent entertaining rugby. Alfie Orris, Sam Sharp and Zach Garratt were proving a real threat to the opposite numbers with strong runs. On 31 minutes on the back of 15 phases of great continuity, maintained by Garofalo and Harvey’s distribution, and despite stout Chobham defence Amon Panikoula eventually broke the visitors line. He punched through several tackles to set up Tom Beaumont for the home side’s try bonus point. The conversion hit the post for 26-0 Medway lead.  As the half closed Chobham had an opportunity to score but Antony Clement won the race for the touch down and the dominant Medway scrum ensured they kept their line intact till half time.  The home side had completed a fine 40 minutes of quality controlled rugby in which every player worked hard to execute. Given the conditions they were playing in it was a quality 40 minutes.

The second half kicked off with Medway having the elements at their back and a healthy 26-0 lead.  The opening exchanges were fairly even and with Medway playing a little bit laterally so it was not until the 50th minute that the next score was forthcoming.  Medway managed to steal a Chobham lineout and following more excellent phases put Tom Beaumont over for his second try. The dependable Harvey added the extras and Medway led 33-0.  If everyone thought that Medway would run away with the game then Chobham were not there to lie down. With 53 minutes on the clock Chobham scored. It was a try of quality crafted out of good skill and ball retention. They went through several phases until the space was created and finished well. The conversion was good to make the score 33-7.  Chobham were showing character and upped their game. Medway errors through some slack play and Chobham pressure meant that neither side were able to control this middle period. Medway made changes with Tom Whitnell replacing Richard Petch and Charlie Wardzynski replacing Sam Sharp. Both made telling contributions.  On 72 minutes Harvey with the elements at his back executed a high up and under. The Chobham defenders failed to deal with it and Connor Chalmers re-gathered the ball to scamper over for his hatrick try. Dan Harvey added the extras and Medway increased their lead to 40-7.  Upon the restart Medway secured the ball but some loose handling saw Chobham re-gather possession and two very clinical phases later scored their second try. This was unconverted. 40-12.  Chobham were showing their character and would not give in to their credit. With 78 minutes on the clock and in trying to take the game to Medway they were penalised at the breakdown. Medway kicked for the corner. The last action of the match was the Medway forwards completing the scoring with a well organised and executed catch and drive. Bill Sandison with the final touch down. The conversion was missed to make the final score 45-12.

Coach Taff Gwilliam said ‘ As a coaching team we were delighted with the first 40 minutes. It was quality controlled rugby and the players deserve credit for that……the second half with the elements at our back we played a bit loose and it is something we will have to look at’. He added ‘credit to Chobham, missing a number of players, they never gave up’.

 

Medway Extra 62 Beckenham II 14 (Invicta 1) 12th January 2019

Medway welcomed Beckenham to Priestfields keen to erase the last play of the game loss the weekend before and in doing so played some of their best rugby of the season running in ten tries to secure an emphatic win.  Medway started brightly securing the ball and making their way upfield nearly scoring as early as the third minute as flanker Malcolm Cameron carried well through three tackles and almost making the line before being tackled but as he popped the ball up the supporting player couldn’t take it and the ball went forward. Beckenham cleared from the scrum with a long kick downfield which was gathered by winger Conor Chalmers who ran it back onto their five metre line before offloading to centre James Bullock (JB) who touched down for the first converted try of the game. Beckenham restarted at 7-0 down but went further behind as No. 8 Adam Dady burst clear from a ruck and  found prop Darren Jalink in close support. He made more ground before finally being tackled but Medway quickly recycled spotting the huge gap in the Beckenham defence and sending the ball out to the left where centre Kaine Dimech ran in unopposed for another converted try and a 14-0 lead. Medway secured the restart and tore straight back into the Beckenham half with forwards and backs combining well and at pace giving Beckenham no chance to settle. A penalty in front of the posts gave fly half Max Bullock (MB) an easy kick at goal to extend Medway’s lead to 17-0. Beckenham restarted but once again Cameron took it well and crashed through the first line of defence making halfway before once more finding Jalink in support. Quick ball from the ruck along the backs found Chalmers at full speed and he ran in Medway’s third converted try for a 24-0 lead. Beckenham were finding it difficult to cope with Medway’s pace and accuracy in the offload and gaps were already appearing in their defence which Medway used to the full as another break from the forwards gave MB a simple score and a 29-0 lead. Medway’s next try came direct from the restart as Dady took it and set off at pace from his twenty-two crashing through three tackles and running the length of the pitch to score another converted try. Beckenham now 36-0 down needed to reorganise but as half time approached they went further behind as Medway had a line out on the Beckenham five metre line which they secured setting up a driving maul from which hooker Billy Humphrey took control crashing over the line for a half time score of 41-0.

The second half couldn’t have started worse for Beckenham as they took the restart and kicked to clear right up the middle of the pitch. The ball was fielded by full back Rhys Burns who found MB in space with a disorganised defence in front of him and he made the most of the gaps running  in under the posts and converting his try for a 48-0 lead. In fairness to Beckenham they continued to work hard and when they forced a knock on their centre picked up the loose ball and set off down the right beating two Medway defenders to score under the posts. They then secured the restart and had their best period of possession and territory which saw Medway lose a player to a yellow card as they defended on their five metre line. Beckenham pressed hard but Medway defended well finally relieving the pressure when Beckenham were penalised for collapsing a scrum. Having cleared their lines Medway scored again as yet more hard running and accurate passing saw JB receive the ball out wide from a ruck scoring under the posts to make it 55-7. With the game obviously won Medway relaxed and were punished when they carried the ball back over their try line and touched down giving Beckenham a five metre scrum from which their No.8 picked up and scored. With five minutes left Medway were awarded a penalty but when a Beckenham player tried to kick a Medway player tempers flared. When the dust settled Medway lost a player to a yellow card and Beckenham lost three players to red cards which meant that Medway’s final score from a scrum was a simple walk through as the ball travelled down the back line against a three man defence allowing Sean Crittenden an easy touch down for a final score of 62-14.

This was an excellent performance from the Extras who played some fantastic rugby against a Beckenham side who are always tough opponents and never give up. The pace and accuracy of their game drew admiring remarks from the substantial number of supporters that watched the game. Our thanks to referee Mr Alexander who had a good game keeping up with play and being consistent in his decision making.

 

Medway Squad: Darren Jalink, Billy Humphrey, Jack Nickalls, Johnny Smith, Dan Goodall, Tom Huntley, Malcolm Cameron, Adam Dady, Tom Miles, Max Bullock, Conor Chalmers, James Bullock, Kaine Dimech, Sean Crittenden, Rhys Burns, Matt Brightman, Dan O’Brien, Rhys Gue, Al Waterman