Medway 26 Hammersmith & Fulham 22 (London 1 South) 25th September 2021

Saturday saw Medway entertain Hammersmith & Fulham RFC at Priestfields for the first time in their history in this London Division 1 League encounter. The match was sponsored by former Medway stalwart Mike Boucher from his home in Australia. The visitors kicked off and soon had Medway in a world of trouble. Two early unconverted tries were scored within 6 minutes following possession given away cheaply and some sloppy defence.

With the home side 0-10 down Medway had to slowly claw their way back into the game. With good possession from set piece Medway exerted pressure on their visitors. Jordan Subbington, Mo Pangarker , Henry Kenny and Tom Beaumont all carried well and won penalties from phase play. Harvey kicking 3 on them in the 9th, 12th and 27 minutes to bring the score back to 9-10. On 30 minutes from a knock on at the re-start H & F breached the home line from their scrum feed and a great offload, out of a superb cover tackle from Alfie Orris, saw them score their third unconverted try 9-15. Medway came back. With the half coming to a close Medway were attacking and the visitors lock was adjudged to have deliberately knocked on just 10 yards out from his own line. Medway opted for the line out and Billy Sandison  drove over from short range. The conversion was missed leaving the half time score 14-15.

The early stages of the second half saw Medway totally dominant. Good phase play on the back of a solid set piece with Max Easton, Jack Nickalls, Billy Sandison and man of the match Richard Petch prominent saw the constant pressure tell. On 42 minutes good work from the Medway team at the breakdown saw Alfie Orris finally put Lordi Waqa away he cut a good line and went in for a try. Daniel Harvey converted and Medway led for the first time 21-15. On 49 mins a line out in the H & F 22 saw the ball fed wide. Centre Max Bullock although initially stopped showed good strength and broke free from the tackle then sped away over in the corner for a unconverted try 26-15. Medway were in the ascendancy Jack Johnson and Antony Clement were making good runs and soon after had more penalties. A lineout on the visitors 5m line went astray as did a couple of other good opportunities to seal the game. Hammersmith & Fulham were still in it and when home prop Jack Nickalls was sin binned for a deliberate knock on they sensed their opportunity. Medway were forced to make changes, Billy Humphrey entered the fray as the front replacement. Owen Church-Mills replaced centre Max Bullock and Lordi Waqa left the field to comply with the front row issue. With Medway down to 14 men possession on the left was moved wide right and H & F got round the home defence cover to score in the corner. A great conversion saw them make it a one score game at 26-22 with 10 minutes left. To the visitors credit the last 10 minutes of the game saw them pound away at the Medway line but Medway defended both the pick and go and catch and drive well. With the last play of the game H & F won a line out and moved the ball wide out right then brought it back to the middle. They then looked to get outside the home defence with a wide pass but No 8 Jordan Stubbington intercepted on his own 5m line and ran deep into the opposition half but his pass to his support was slapped down legally and went into touch preventing a bonus point try. The referee blew for full time and Medway were the victors.

To the visitors credit they never gave up and only sound late defence from Medway secured the victory.

Coach Taff Gwilliam said “ a win is a win but there are areas of our game that we will need to improve to remain competitive” he added…… “ There are a lot of good teams in this league and Hammersmith & Fulham are one of them and we are pleased to have secured the victory today”.