Medway journeyed to West Sussex on Saturday to take on a Horsham side who had beaten them on their previous visit. Matches between the two sides are always close and this was match proved to be no exception. Playing into a strong breeze Medway got off to a flying start. Horsham kicked deep into the Medway 22m. Alfie Orris fielded the ball and counter attacked gaining good ground before being tackled. The ball was re-cycled and Medway carried through the forwards, Captain for the day, Max Easton, Jack Nickalls and Richard Petch getting over the gain line with support from their fellow forwards. The home defence was narrowed as a consequence and Sam Garofalo linked with Dan Harvey to move the ball wide to Max Bullock. He beat his marker to race home scoring in the corner. Dan Harvey landed the conversion with a superb kick in difficult conditions. 0-7. Horsham soon responded. Medway conceded a penalty at the breakdown and Horsham kicked into the corner. The initial catch and drive was thwarted however Horsham kept the pressure on and eventually drove over from short range for the converted try to level the scores. The rest of the half saw Horsham manage the conditions well and pin Medway back in their own half. On 15 minutes a loose wide pass from the visitors went to ground and they were penalised at the subsequent breakdown. The home kicker made no mistake 10-7. On 19 minutes another penalty against Medway saw the home side increase their lead to 13-7 with another well struck and accurate kick. With the elements at their back Horsham kept up the pressure pinning Medway deep in their own half. They defended their line well with every Medway player contributing. The defence was highlighted by some great gutsy tackles from Sean Marriott on the dangerous Horsham winger. The last play of the first half however saw the home side’s pressure finally rewarded when Medway were adjudged to have come in the side of a ruck and the accuracy of the home kicker ensured that Horsham went into half time with a 16-7 lead.
The second half started with just one change to the Medway team with young Maik Timmerman replacing Richard Petch after his sterling work at Tighthead. An early blow to Medway’s hope of a comeback was the loss of the influential Dan Huntley with a spiral fracture of his right hand. He was replaced by young 18 year old Michael Fankah making his league debut. Despite this set back Medway set about clawing back the Horsham first half lead. Back to back penalties won at the breakdown (the first by Michael Fankah) saw Harvey kick Medway close to the home line and the subsequent line out saw hooker Billy Humphrey touch down in the corner. Harvey landed an excellent conversion to make the score 16-14. Medway had good opportunities to take the lead but were penalised for truck and trailer as they drove over the line and kickable penalties were missed after a Horsham player was yellow carded for a dangerous tackle. Horsham battled hard a man short as Medway kept the pressure on but in the end that pressure and good field position told. In the 67th minute another penalty was conceded at the breakdown by Horsham this, following good work by Jordan Stubbington, Mo Pangarker and Henry Kenny, saw Harvey step up and make no mistake with the effort to give Medway the lead 16-17. Just 4 minutes later Medway increased their slender lead. Good set piece possession was the platform for Harvey and Antony Clement to feed young Max Bullock. He broke the home defensive line and offloaded to the supporting Jack Johnson. He stepped two covering defenders to score an excellent try. Dan Harvey converted and Medway closed out the game to make the final score 16-24.
No try bonus point for Medway and the final try denying Horsham the bonus point they frankly deserved for an excellent battle.
Medway coach Taff Gwilliam said ‘We are just pleased to have won here in difficult conditions. We always have really tough games against Horsham who are a well organised and dangerous side’.