Medway hosted London Welsh for the first time in the club’s history in this top of the table clash. With the teams having identical playing records both sets of supporters turned out in large numbers for this eagerly anticipated game. For Medway Billy Humphrey was playing his 300th league game. Medway kicked off with a strong breeze at their back and were soon 0-5 down. Two missed tackles found London Welsh in possession under the Medway posts. Quick ruck ball and with the Medway defence in disarray they found their winger who scampered over for the unconverted try with literally 1 minute gone. Not the start the home side were seeking. Medway needed to bounce back. And they did. From a scrum Medway exerted pressure and the visitors 9 failed to clear his lines properly. Sam Garofalo re-gathered the ball and found Mo Pangarker. His strong run got him behind the Welsh defence and an offload to John Sipawa saw him dive over in the corner. Dan Harvey converted to put Medway in front 7-5. With the wind at their backs and Harvey pinning Welsh back with his game management Medway soon added to their score. With 11 minutes gone on the clock the London Welsh back row player is penalised for not rolling away in the tackle. Dan Harvey makes no mistake. 10-5. London Welsh hit back straight away. Some uncharacteristic poor tackling in midfield sees Welsh break through and create a 2 v 1 on the Medway fullback and the inevitable try is scored. With the conversion they take the lead 10-12. Playing with the wind the signs were ominous for the home side. The visitors had contained the Medway attack and the only other scoring of the half was from the boot of Harvey on 28 mins. 13-12. He did hit the crossbar with another long-range attempt, but Medway went into half time with the slenderest of leads.
The second half kicked off and with Medway playing into the strong breeze. It was felt by everyone that Welsh would use the elements to dominate and take the game away from the home side. It was not to be the case. The Medway set piece was superb. Billy Sandison, Maik Timmerman and Richard Petch were dominating up front in the scrummage winning penalties. Sandison (awarded man of the match), Max Easton and Mo Pangarker were dominating the line out denying the visitors the platform they were seeking. With this Medway retained the hard-won possession. Strong running into the breeze from Henry Kenny, Tom Beaumont, Billy Humphrey, Antony Clement and Max Bullock ensured Medway retained possession for large periods of play. On 50 minutes this possession bore fruit. Good line out work and midfield carrying into the breeze narrowed the London Welsh Defence, Garofalo and Harvey put the ball out wide, and John Sipawa bumps off an attempted tackle to score in the corner. The try is unconverted. 18-12. As the half progresses the set piece dominance and ball retention denies London Welsh the opportunities they crave to get back into the game. What little possession they had Medway defended well. Henry Kenny, Antony Clement, and Mo Pangarker making some heavy tackles. The new Medway back three of Conor Chalmers, Sean Marriott and Sipawa were doing an excellent covering job. On the hour mark Medway increased their lead through a Harvey penalty following yet another scrum infringement under pressure. 21-12. Jack Nickalls came on to replace stalwart Richard Petch in the front row. Medway were keen to keep the pressure on the visitors set piece. As the match went into the closing minutes Medway made changes to keep their work rate up. Billy Humphrey went off to a large cheer joined by Mo Pangarker who had an excellent game. Dan O’ Brian and Michael Fankah replacing them in the back row. Fankah’s first touch of the ball was to score. A scrum 5m out saw the dominant Medway pack drive for the line. Welsh were helpless as excellent control at the base saw Fankah touch down. Dan Harvey converted to make the score 28-12. London Welsh tried to come back but with three fresh players on in the forwards Tom Beaumont’s team closed the game out.
A brilliant second half performance with the tactics well executed ensured the Medway victory.
Coach Taff Gwilliam said ‘This was an important occasion for us. Playing such a prestigious club at Medway for the first time and securing a win in front of the largest crowd seen here for a few years was simply superb’. He added ‘having been defeated by them earlier in the season, we prepared a plan and the boys executed it brilliantly’.
Next week Medway travel to Roehampton to take on London Cornish.