Medway 22 Horsham 19 (London 1 South) 26th March 2022

Medway went into Saturday’s game against Horsham knowing that a victory would secure them promotion to National Division 3 next season. A large crowd turned out to cheer Medway and help get them over the line but the visitors had not come to roll over. They came to win and they so very nearly did. The game kicked off in bright sunshine with a strong breeze at the visitors backs and it did not take long for them to open the scoring. A penalty kick to the corner saw Horsham go to the catch and drive. This attempt was thwarted by good defensive work but Horsham were patient and after a number of phases managed to drive over from short range for the converted try. 0-7. On 13 minutes Medway replied. Medway attacked and drove up field through good ball carrying with Mo Pangarker, Tom Beaumont and Henry Kenny prominent. Horsham conceded a penalty at the breakdown and a Dan Harvey penalty kick made the score 3-7. Immediately after this Medway were forced to make a change with No 8 Jordan Stubbington forced to leave the field with a shoulder injury. Hooker Billy Humphrey coming on for his 302nd 1st XV appearance to replace him. The middle of the half saw Horsham dominant. Two tries in 3 minutes one of which was converted put Medway’s ambition in serious doubt as they were outplayed at the breakdown by a robust Horsham pack. At 3-19 things were looking bleak but this Medway side never give up and on a rare foray in the Horsham 22m they were awarded a penalty. Harvey kicked the ball into the touch close to the Horsham line. The visitors defended the initial attempted catch and drive but Medway retained the ball and moved it wide. John Sipawa was stopped short and the next phase saw Sam Garofalo feed Dan Harvey who stepped inside the defence to run round under the posts. He converted his own try and although second best in the first half Medway went in just 10-19 down at the break.

The second half was all about Medway establishing control at the set piece. Using the hard won penalties to gain good field position. Billy Sandison, Richard Petch and Jack Nickalls were dominating up front and there was no respite for Horsham when Maik Timmerman replaced Nickalls. Good field position provided good ball carrying opportunities Henry Kenny, Anthony Clement and Max Bullock kept Medway on the front foot. Horsham started conceding penalties at the breakdown and Harvey punished them with successful kicks on 46, 56, 59 and 63 minutes to reduce and then overhaul the Horsham lead. Horsham continued to be competitive in broken play but the Medway stranglehold at the set piece and good defence work particularly by Sean Marriott, Lewis Stimpson, Henry Kenny and Mo Pangarker combined with the back field organisation from Glen Wadsworth ensured that Horsham remained scoreless in the second half. Medway were winners securing promotion to National League rugby for the first time in their history.

Coach Taff Gwilliam said ‘This was not one of our best performances and you have to credit Horsham for that. They were excellent at the breakdown and will feel aggrieved not to have come away with more out of this game’ he added ‘ that said we are delighted to have secured promotion it is a great day for the players and the whole club. We have come a long way and can now look forward to testing ourselves at the National level’.