London Irish WG 24 Medway 25 (London 1 South) 08th January 2022

Medway travelled to Sudbury on Saturday to take on London Irish Wild Geese. This return fixture was played out in constant rain making conditions less than ideal for the players. The home side kicked off and the only score of the first half came in the 39th minute when Owen Church-Mills converted the 10th penalty conceded by Irish in the half which also earned the home side a yellow card for persistent infringement.  Medway had dominated the first half mainly through their stronger scrum, courtesy of Maik Timmerman, Billy Sandison and Richard Petch, and that was backed up with good ball retention from Jordan Stubbington, Henry Kenny, Mo Pangarker and Lewis Stimpson in the conditions. They had opportunities to score having had a try disallowed by Clement and Tom Beaumont being held up over the line on another occasion. However they were unable to get the score they craved as line out chances went begging and to the credit of the much improved Irish team some excellent and well organised defence.

 Half time saw Medway forced into making a change with centre Antony Clement forced to leave the field with a leg injury.  The rain abated and both sides looked to play a more expansive game and with just two minutes of the half gone Medway scored the opening try. Irish a man down looked to kick out deep but were unable to find touch. Medway counter attacked with Jack Johnson beating the kick chase. He fed Tom Beaumont in support who offloaded out of the tackle to Max Bullock who beat the scramble defence to score the unconverted try in the corner. 0-8. Irish responded 5 minutes later when their excellent fly half kicked in behind the Medway defence and their fullback won the race for the touchdown. The try was unconverted. 5-8. Medway added Jack Nickalls to the fray replacing stalwart Richard Petch. On 53 minutes Irish gave away a penalty for attacking the jumper in the air. Owen Church-Mills struck it well. 5-11. From the kick off Medway gain possession and kick deep for field position. Irish gather the ball and kicked back. Alfie Orris catches the ball and counter attacks. The Irish kick chase was poor and the pace of Orris saw him cut through and score under the posts. Church-Mills converted 5-18. On 64 minutes with Medway attacked the Irish line through Tom Beaumont who went close but was stopped just short. Irish knocked the ball on on their line and the resultant Medway scrum drove for the line. Jordan Stubbington controlled the drive well. The home scrum half dived in as Medway were about to score giving the referee no option but to award the penalty try. 5-25.

 Medway made a further change with Billy Humphrey replacing Billy Sandison at Hooker. From the restart Medway failed to gather the ball and found themselves defending their line. Irish won a penalty and a quick tap and go saw Sean Marriott tackle the ball carrier inside the 10 metres and he rightly saw yellow. Irish tapped and went again but Medway defended their line but their defence was eventually narrowed and the ball went out wide for the inevitable score which was unconverted 10-25. Irish had their tails up. Medway were a man down. Within 5 minutes Irish had scored again. A kick in behind from their fly half saw them win the race for the touch down against a short handed defence. The converted try saw the score back to 17-24. With just 5 minutes remaining Irish win a line out 5 meters out from the Medway line. The go to the catch and drive but this is thwarted. Pick and go becomes their attack choice and they eventually score in the corner. A magnificent conversion brings Irish back to within a point at 24-25. The restart see Irish try to run out from defence with several phases but with Medway restored to their full compliment Irish cannot get out of their half. Medway eventually win a penalty at the breakdown and the game is over.

 Coach Taff Gwilliam said “ This was a much improved Irish side who battled hard. We are just pleased to have secured victory in the conditions but given we were in control 25-5 up with 20 minutes to go we have to look at how we close games out”. He added if London Irish keep this side together they will do well in the second half of the season”.