Medway travelled to third placed Camberley on Saturday in an eagerly awaited top of the table clash. The crowd were thoroughly entertained as the teams served up a pulsating encounter in which the home side eventually prevailed by 41 to 31.
The first 10 minutes of the match was all Camberley. They dominated field position and although they failed to score with an attempted catch and drive on 7 minutes they did manage to narrow the Medway defence then move the ball wide to score an unconverted try in the other corner. 5-0.
Within a few minutes Camberley were back on the attack and forced a couple of missed tackles in the Medway 22 and again scored an unconverted try for a 10-0 lead with only 10 minutes gone.
Medway started to get a foothold in the game based on a solid scrummaging platform. On 27 minutes they opened their account.
Antony Clement carried inside the 22m and Medway got quick ball Dan Harvey fed Max Bullock who got outside his man then put Alfie Orris away. The covering defence were drawn by Orris who fed back to the supporting Bullock and he outpaced the chasing defence to score. Harvey converted. 10-7. A superb break out try.
On 31 minutes a line out in Medway’s own half saw Bill Sandison and Jordan Stubbington combine. Sam Garofalo fed Sean Marriott who got over the gain line. Max Easton, Henry Kenny and Mo Pangarker drove into the heart of the Camberley defence. Quick ball from Garofalo and Harvey put Orris away supported by Jack Johnson who exchanged passes with Orris for him to score. Harvey added the extras 10-14.
Camberley came back. A penalty at the breakdown saw them go for the corner and a well executed catch and drive together with a good conversion from their fly half saw them re-take the lead 17-14.
The last play of the half saw Dan Harvey kick a penalty after Camberley were penalised for a high tackle. Half time saw the sides even at 17-17 all.
The second half started as the first. Medway failed to exit from the kick off then conceded back to back penalties the second of which saw Antony Clement yellow carded and reducing Medway to 14 men. The home side took full advantage scoring a converted catch and drive try to lead 24-17.
Down to 14 men Medway showed good character. A well executed line out saw Medway go through the phases with good ball retention. They were pulling the Camberley defence first one way then other. Eventually Medway were able to create space to put Sean Marriott away on the left. He ran hard but was tackled just short of the line. The ball was recycled and Garofalo fed Alfie Orris who broke a tackle to score a great team try. Harvey converted and the match was level again at 24-24.
The next score went to the home side. With 63 minutes on the clock Medway were in possession in their own 22m. They looked to exit when a loose pass saw Camberley recover the error ball and score a simple try in the corner. A good conversion put the score at 31-24.
Despite this setback Medway came back at Camberley. For 10 minutes they pressured Camberley deep in their half. Twice Camberley managed to turn the ball over and clear their lines but Medway kept coming back and multiple phases eventually saw a space for Harvey to offload to Jack Johnson who beat a defender and rounded the cover to score the converted try. 31-31.
With 8 minutes left on the clock the scores were level and it was anyones game. Sadly for Medway they failed to deal with the re-start giving Camberley good field position. Next a simple offside line penalty compounded the error and Camberley converted to take the lead again 34-31.
The last 4 minutes saw Medway try to run the ball out from deep but Camberley kept these attempts at bay defending well and eventually turning the ball over. They themselves looked to seal the game and as they looked to score in the corner Medway were adjudged not to have used arms in the tackle and a penalty try was awarded denying Medway a losing bonus point.
This match lived up to its billing but sadly for Medway they came out on the wrong side of the score.
Coach Taff Gwilliam said ‘It was a great game and the boys gave their absolute all and are gutted to lose. Hopefully we will learn from our own errors and be stronger for the experience.’ He added ‘Camberley are a good side and were clinical in their execution’.