On a very breezy but dry afternoon at Priestfields Medway entertained league rivals Cobham. The match marked Richard Petch’s 150th 1st XV appearance for the host club.
Both teams had been victorious in their previous outings playing expansive rugby so an entertaining encounter was expected. The crowd was swelled by a 100 of Medway’s past players who enjoyed their annual reunion lunch.
Cobham kicked off with the breeze at their backs. Medway gained possession from the kick off and for the first 20 minutes showed excellent ball retention. A single missed penalty opportunity on 12 minutes was Cobham’s only real scoring opportunity.
On 22 minutes Medway opened the scoring. An overthrow from Cobham in their own half was regathered by Tom Beaumont who drove on making good ground. Medway went through the phases and eventually Max Easton went over in the corner for an unconverted try. 5-0.
Immediately from the kick off Max Easton and Tom Beaumont combine to put Sean Marriott away. He finds Max Bullock in support who breaks inside but is denied the try by a last ditch tackle. The ensuing scrum sees Medway pressure the Cobham scrum and turn the ball over for Jordan Stubbington to score. Dan Harvey converted to put Medway ahead 12-0.
With 32 minutes on the clock Cobham were under pressure in their own half and looked to clear their lines. A long kick downfield was caught by Sean Marriott who linked with Jack Johnson. He and ‘man of the match’ Max Bullock counter attacked linking up with Mo Pangarker. Mo breaks a couple of tackles and gives the return pass for Max Bullock to score. Dan Harvey converted. 19-0.
With just two minutes remaining before half time Medway were 19 points to the good playing against the elements and had performed brilliantly. Good ball retention, decision making and patience had put them in a commanding position however Cobham are a good side who never stopped playing. Good field position and some indifferent tackling saw Cobham drive over from from a ruck on the Medway line. The try was converted. 19-7.
Straight from the kick off Medway won a penalty and kicked upfield. The resultant line out saw a wide pass intercepted by the Cobham player in his own 22m and he went the distance to score the converted try.
Medway had undermined what was a top quality 38 minutes with 2 minutes of slackness. The teams went in at half time. Cobham were still in it with the score at 19-14.
Medway kicked the second half off and were soon on the front foot having won the ball back. Bill Sandison, Jack Nickalls, Mo Pangarker and Henry Kenny all making telling carries. Sam Garofalo and Dan Harvey ensured good continuity and the pressure soon told. With the visitors defence narrowed Medway went wide and Antony Clement and Jack Johnson combined to put Sean Marriott away to score. Dan Harvey converted. 26-14.
On 52 minutes Jack Johnson puts a kick deep into the Cobham half. A good kick chase pressures the visitors full back into putting the ball out in is own 22m. The resultant line out sees Bill Sandison and Max Easton combine to win the ball. Medway drive for the line and just as Cobham stop the drive Jordan Stubbington breaks off to drive over from short range. The conversion is missed. 31-14.
Medway make changes to their line up with Maik Timmerman replacing Jack Nickalls and Michael Fankah replacing Mo Pangarker. The changes not diminishing the dominance of the Medway pack.
Medway keep the pressure up and are rewarded on 58 minutes. A line out steal see Medway attack the Cobham midfield through Sean Marriott and he feeds Max Bullock who races over for the try. Dan Harvey converts to make the score 38-14.
Bill Humphrey replaced Bill Sandison. With Medway on top and keeping the pressure up a lot of teams would have crumbled but Cobham showed pride and character they battled hard and never gave up. They kept Medway at bay for long periods and the final score of the game did not come until the final play. Cobham were pinned on their own line and following a number of consecutive penalties Medway opted for the attacking scrum. A well executed push over try sees Stubbington score his hat trick and Harvey converted to make the final score 45-14.
Coach Taff Gwilliam said “ we are delighted to have won with the bonus point. Cobham are a well organised, talented team. The first 38 minutes was some of the best controlled rugby, in the elements, that we have played this season”.
Next week see Medway travel to promotion rivals Camberley.