Hammersmith and Fulham 12 Medway 29 (London 1 South) 15th January 2022

Medway travelled to the ‘Hammers’ Hurlingham Park ground for their first ever visit in this key promotion fixture. With the ‘Hammers’ only 3 points behind Medway but having a game in hand the outcome was crucial to the aspirations of both clubs. Medway had the dream start with only 3 minutes on the clock. Good work off the back of a solid scrum by Jordan Stubbington saw quick ball for Sam Garofalo who fed Alfie Orris. Orris beat his man but was tackled short, his offload was eventually fed out to the opposite touchline for John Sopawa to score an unconverted try. 0-5. The good Medway start was based on a solid scrum platform with the front 5 of Bill Sandison, Maik Timmerman, Richard Petch, Henry Kenny and Mo Pangarker getting on top of their counterparts. Good front foot ball saw the home side forced to concede a penalty at the breakdown. Owen Church-Mills made no mistake. 0-8. The Hammers looked to come back and threatened with their talented back division. Some good attacking phases was rewarded with a penalty. The home side kicked for the corner. The initial catch and drive was stopped but they got the reward they sought with a close range drive successful as was the conversion. 7-8. Medway were on the scoreboard next on 34 minutes. A scrum outside their own 22m saw the visitors attack from deep.  Garofalo, Orris and Stubbington combine to gain good ground. Good support play from Lewis Stimpson, Henry Kenny, Tom Beaumont and Mo Pangarker ensure quick ball which Jack Johnson and Sean Marriott feed wide to John Sopowa. Sipowa looked set to score but is tackled short however Beaumont feeds Billy Sandison and he powers over from short range for the try coverted by Owen Church-Mills. 7-15. Hammersmith & Fulham look to respond. Good phase play from them stretched Medway but their defence with Johnson, Bullock, Church-MIlls and Marriott working hard held firm for the 7-15 half time score.

The second half kicked off with end to end stuff from both teams but good last minute defence from both sides prevented any score until the 55th minute. Medway had good field position but waste the line out opportunity. A scrum is awarded to the home side but the Medway pressure secures a penalty. Medway opt for the scrum and their dominance secures the pushover try from Jordan Stubbington. Owen Church-Mills converts to make the score 7-22. Medway made changes with youngsters Jack Nickalls and Michael Fankah replacing Petch and Stimpson. Hammersmith were forced to make a couple of enforced injury changes themselves with one looking serious. The Medway club wish the player well and hope the injury is not too severe. With Medway looking the dominant side the next score was not long in coming. On 63 minutes Medway secured an attacking scrum 10 metres out. A quality scrum drive from all 8 forwards saw Stubbington’s control at the base rewarded with a second try. The try bonus point was secured and the try converted by the dependable Owen Church-Mills. 7-29. Medway added veteran Billy Humphrey to the fray and although both sides had opportunities the final score of the match went to the home side who never gave up. Back to back penalties saw Hammersmith & Fulham secure good field position and they are rewarded eventually with a good close range effort which was unconverted. 12-29.

Coach Taff Gwilliam said ‘This is an excellent result for us. The Hammers have one of the best back divisions in the league and I am really pleased with the execution of our game plan’. He added “we were forced to make changes at 10 and 12 and all the boys responded well and are rightfully proud of this win against a quality club”.