Guildford 26 Medway 43 (London 1 South) 30th January 2022

Medway travelled to Guildford on Saturday looking to maintain their good start to 2022. A windy but dry day saw the teams take to the field with Medway kicking off, the wind at their backs.

After the opening exchanges Medway found themselves with a scrum feed in their own 22m. The ball was won and Antony Clement carried into the home backs. The ball was recycled for Jack Johnson to kick into space. A good kick chase from Alfie Orris, Jack Johnson and Max Bullock saw the latter win the race to the ball and hack on. Bullock re-gathered the ball and offloaded out of the tackle to Johnson who went over for the try. Dan Harvey converted. A great start for the visitors with just 7 minutes gone. 0-7.

On 21 minutes Guildford failed to find touch from their own 22m. Dan Harvey and Alfie Orris moved the ball in field for Sean Marriott to attack up the middle. The ruck ball was fed to Orris off his wing who then carried into the defence. The ruck was once again won and Garofalo fed Jack Johnson. He attacked line beating 2 defenders then went round the cover defence to score near the posts. Harvey converted. 0-14. A great start.

Medway then suffered a blow when No 8 Jordan Stubbington was forced to leave the field. He was replaced by back up hooker Bill Humphrey.

Four minutes later Medway are on the attack again. A scrum on the right hand side is fed out wide left to Alfie Orris. He makes good ground stretching the home defence. The ruck is won and the forwards go through two more phases with carries from Petch, Clement and Harvey before Jack Johnson kicks into space behind the home defence. Sam Garofalo in support wins the race for the touchdown. Harvey converts. 0-21.

The re-start from Guildford, following the Garofalo try, did not go 10m. The resultant scrum saw Medway split the field. From the scrum the ball was fed to Alfie Orris in space who flies down the wing outpacing the cover defence to score in the corner and give Medway the try bonus point. Dan Harvey lands an excellent conversion to make the score 0-28.

Guildford looked to get back in the game winning back to back penalties at the breakdown They kicked for the corner but their attempts at the catch and drive were thwarted. The first half concluded with Medway in a super dominant position and the try bonus point in the bag.

The second half kicked off with Medway now playing into the strong breeze. A line out to Medway saw Guildford awarded a free kick and the home side go quick. A single pass into midfield sees the Guildford centre through a disorganised Medway defence to score the simplest of tries under the posts. 7-28.

From the re-start Guildford secure possession and attack down the right. A breakdown infringement from Medway sees’ Guildford tap and go and kick through. Sean Marriott is penalised for a tackle on the kicker and is given a yellow card and Guildford are awarded, correctly, a penalty try. 14-28.

With those two quick tries Guildford are back into the game with just 4 frenetic minutes of the second half gone.

Despite being down to 14 men the Medway pack were on top at the set piece. Bill Sandison, Richard Petch and Maik Timmerman dominating their counterparts. That dominance wins a penalty. Dan Harvey is successful with the kick. 14-31.

Just as it seemed Medway had weathered the Guildford storm a loose midfield pass was intercepted and Guildford are in again under the posts for another converted try. 21-31.

With Medway restored to their full complement they looked to re-establish control of the game. With the pack dominant at the scrum Medway kept the ball in, driving to win the penalty. A kick to the corner saw the initial line out catch and drive sacked. Medway then went through several phases with Mo Pangarker, Max Easton and Tom Beaumont prominent in attacking the home line. Eventually the home defence is narrowed and the ball fed wide. Accurate passing sees Dan Harvey score in the corner. He lands the conversion of his own try from the touchline. 21-38.

Guildford having been 28-0 at half time were showing real grit and determination to get something out of the game. With 66 minutes gone they were rewarded with their own try bonus point. The home side’s inside attacks were thwarted by Medway. Tom Beaumont, Michael Fankah and Antony Clement all making good tackles. Guildford then kicked wide and the bounce of the ball went their way for a well taken unconverted try in the corner. 26-38

The final score of this match went to the visitors on 75 minutes. Successive penalties were won at a scrum 10m out. Medway opt for the scrum re-set each time. With the scrum dominate Guildford could not stop the drive and good control from Billy Humphrey at the base saw him score the unconverted try to make the final score 26-43.

Coach Taff Gwilliam said ‘ this was a classic tale of two halves…we were accurate clinical and totally dominated the first half but to Guildford’s credit they gave us a lesson with their second half efforts’ he added ‘our players lost focus and concentration triggered by the sharpness of Guildford however to learn this valuable lesson and still get the bonus point win is testament to our excellent first half performance’.