Medway RFC entertained old rivals Chichester at Priestfields on Saturday. Although dry a very strong wind was blowing down the pitch which Medway played into at the kick off. Both teams were forced into making late changes to their squad making for an intriguing match with the depth of the respective squads being tested. Chichester kicked off and immediately went on the attack. With the wind at their backs they looked to dominate field position. Medway defended the opening exchanges well. On 6 minutes with good field position Chichester kicked through. Stand in Fullback Alfie Orris gathered the ball and broke through the visitors kick chase line. He linked with Jordan Stubbington and Lewis Stimpson who exchanged passes for Jordan Stubbington to score the opening try. A very difficult conversion was missed. 5-0. Chichester soon came back and replied with a try of their own. Medway lost possession on the left and the visitors went wide. Medway were caught offside and as the referee played advantage Chichester cross kicked. They re-gathered the ball to score a well taken converted try. 5-7. The rest of the half was about Medway looking to deny Chichester the possession that they needed to make full use of the very windy conditions. Medway looked to retain the ball. They worked hard to do so going through phase after phase with both forwards and backs carrying and supporting thus preventing the visitors the opportunities to score. Medway’s reward for playing with patience and control into the wind was rewarded after 24 minutes. Numerous phases and short carries disrupted and narrowed the visitors defence and good attacking width saw Dan Harvey eventually score an unconverted try in the corner. 10-7. The rest of the first half was scoreless with Chichester dominating field position but solid defence from Medway preventing any further score.
The second half kicked off with the wind at Medway’s back and there was an air of expectancy but Chichester were not about to simply roll over. The visitors took the game to Medway and this was a very even affair. On 52 minutes Medway lock Jordan Stubbington was yellow carded. Chichester attacked the Medway line but stout goal line defence prevented the score. A Dan Harvey penalty on 55 minutes, just inside the Chichester half, for offside saw 14 man Medway increase their lead to 13-7. Kicking the penalty rather than go for field position showed how tight the match at that point was. With an hour of the game gone and just a single score separating the two teams this looked to be a winnable game for the visitors. They were battling hard and very much in the game. Good ball retention meant they were frustrating the home efforts. With 61 minutes gone Chichester were playing very well. They had a line out on the half way line. However the ball was overthrown and Harvey gathered the loose ball for Medway. He got in behind the Chichester defence offloading to Max Easton in support. He was stopped but quick ruck ball saw Timmerman carry off a short Petch pass. Again quick ruck ball then saw Garofalo, Harvey and Clement combine to create the space for Alfie Orris to score under the posts. Harvey converted and Medway were ahead 20-7. This score just seemed to open the game up. Chichester had been playing well and the game could have gone either way but it was Medway who were now starting to dominate. On 67 minutes Tom Beaumont and Michael Fankah stole the visitor’s ball and combined to set up a ruck inside the Chichester half. The backs moved the ball wide and Orris finished in the corner to secure the Medway try bonus point. The conversion was missed. 25-7. From the re-start Medway inexplicably conceded back to back penalties and Chichester made the most of it scoring an unconverted try from short range. 25-12. On 73 minutes Medway bounced back. Sean Marriott stole possession from Chichester. Billy Humphrey, on for the impressive Sandison, drove deep to the visitors line and Sam Garofalo fed Max Bullock who powered over from short range. Dan Harvey converted to make the score 32-12. Straight from the kick off Max Easton takes the ball in the air under pressure and feeds Max Bullock on Medway’s 10 metre line. Bullock gets on the outside of his marker and breaks the defensive line running hard. He gets away from the cover and steps inside the fullback to score a fine individual try under the posts. Harvey converted. 39-12. The final score of the game was a well worked line out which saw Humphrey and Easton combine for Jordan Stubbington to score an unconverted try. 44-12.
Coach Taff Gwilliam said ‘ We are delighted with the win especially with so many changes in the side. We always have tough games against Chichester and for an hour this game could have gone either way… we stuck to our plan and the boys were rewarded with a fine victory’. He added ‘The younger players like Max Bullock, John Sipawa, Jack Nickalls, Michael Fankah and Maik Timmerman are improving and we are creating some genuine depth in our squad’. Next week Medway travel to an improved Battersea Ironside team. The Medway team will be looking to maintain the push for promotion.