Medway entertained old league rivals Chichester at Priestfields on Saturday in round 9 of this season’s programme. The visitors, always a strong combative side, kicked off and with Medway knocking the ball on Chichester recovered the ball went two phases and clinically scored after just 53 seconds under the home posts. The try was converted and the visitors had had the dream start 0-7. Medway are too used to conceding early points so there was no panic and after 4 minutes kicked a penalty through Dan Harvey following a scrum infringement from the visitors. 3-7. Medway started to dominate possession with their front 5 forwards dominating their counterparts. Cooley, Sandison and O’ Leary were causing all sorts of problems up front ably backed up by man of the match Max Easton and partner Christian Hechter. Despite the domination of possession Medway were unable to breach the visitors line because of handling inaccuracies and butchering an obvious 2 v 1 added to that the solid defence work from Chichester. On 38 minutes Medway did finally get over the line. A penalty outside the visitors 22m was tapped quickly by James Dance who was through the first line of defence before they could touch him he then stepped the cover defence to score near the posts. Harvey kicked the conversion and Medway went into half time 10-7 to the good.
The home side made a change at half time with young developing prop Jack Nickalls replacing the veteran Ross Cooley. The second half was kicked off by Medway and the home side looked to keep their visitors pinned back deep in their half. After 6 minutes of the half Medway had a line out from a visitors clearance kick. Bill Sandison and Max Easton combined and good hands by the back division put Orris away on the left who finished brilliantly right in the corner just as the cover defence got to him. Dan Harvey slotted the conversion from the touchline to put Medway 17-7 ahead. Chichester are not a side to roll over and they came back. Their back row trio were outstanding all day. Combative at the breakdown and carrying strongly principally through their No 8. Medway having experienced Chichester’s physicality historically dealt with it well. Tom Beaumont, Mo Pangarker and Jordan Stubbington matching up well physically to the challenge. With 13 minutes of the clock gone in the second half the Chichester back row finally won a penalty at the breakdown just outside Medway’s 22m, the successful kick narrowing the gap to 17-10. Medway continued to dominate field position forcing Chichester to play from deep. Good work from Clement backed up by some excellent inter-passing and breaks from teenager Max Bullock and Alfie Orris forced Chichester to concede another penalty. Harvey’s accurate boot made no mistake and Medway went out to 20-10. To keep the pressure up on their visitors Medway introduced Billy Humphrey, back after a 4 week injury absence. Medway also had to re-shuffle when fullback Rhys Burns, making his first start of the season, cramped up. Captain Tom Beaumont moved to centre and Malcolm Cameron came on in the back row.
With just 2 minutes of the game left Chichester had the chance to secure a losing bonus point, one they probably deserved, with penalty in front of the posts outside the 22m. Inexplicably their kicker who had looked sound all day pushed it just the wrong side of the post. Medway cleared their lines and closed out the game for a hard fought victory against a Chichester side who were stronger than their league position would suggest.
Next week Medway travel to Beckenham.