Medway 51 Guildford 17 (London 1 South) 16th October 2021

On Saturday Medway entertained Surrey rivals Guildford at Priestfields in breezy but bright conditions. The game kicked off with the home side playing into the elements. Medway started much the brighter side. An early line out saw Medway drive then move the ball through the backs for Jack Johnson to throw an excellent inside pass for Sam Garofalo to scamper over. The try was unconverted. 5-0. Medway continued to press and exerted good control of the ball through the phases and stretched the visitors defence. Johnson again involved with a good line break feeding Owen Church-Mills who scored and then converted his own try. 12-0. Medway were continuing to dominate. A penalty saw Medway kick for the corner. A well executed catch and drive put Billy Sandison over for the third try. Owen Church-Mills converted. 19-0. Medway’s bonus point try came after 22 minutes with Alfie Orris and Jack Johnson linking again after some good ball from the Medway forwards. Johnson’s try was unconverted but Medway were now leading 24-0. With Medway scoring at a point a minute and playing some scintillating stuff you could be forgiven for fearing the worst for Guildford. But with a couple of wins already under their belt this season they were not simply going to lie down. The latter part of the first half mostly went to them showing everyone their fighting spirits and some quality. That final 15 minutes of the first half saw four tries with both sides looking to play expansively. Three of those tries going, deservedly, to the visitors who showed their capabilities and some good character. A sharp try from the Guildford 9 breaking on the Medway 22m broke their duck . It was unconverted 24-5. Medway replied with an excellent run from Max Bullock who was stopped just short but Antony Clement was in support to pick up and dive over. Church-Mills converted. 31-5.

Then came Guildford’s best spell of the game. Medway conceded back to back penalties and paid the price. The visitors executed an excellent catch and drive and a few minutes later a short range drive to bring the half time score to 31-17. With the elements at their back Medway needed to re-establish control of the game and immediately from the kick off they forced Guildford into conceding a penalty. Church-Mills was on target. 34-17. On 46 minutes Medway won a scrum on the Guildford 10m line. The ball is fed to Max Bullock who beat his marker then rounded the fullback for a fine individual try. Church-Mills converted 41-17. Medway then make changes with Dan Harvey replacing Owen Church-Mills and Maik Timmerman coming on for Richard Petch. Dan Harvey soon makes his mark when following another strong scrum Medway win the penalty which he kicks to put the score out to 44-17. Veteran Billy Humphrey replaced Medway Captain Tom Beaumont who had been ill in the lead up to the game. The industrious Sean Marriott was also forced to leave the pitch with Church-Mills returning to the fray. Guildford for their part never stopped trying to play but the Medway pack led by the front row of Bill Sandison, Jack Nickalls, Richard Petch and Maik Timmerman dominated the set piece.  With ‘man of the match’ Henry Kenny making some crunching tackles and carrying hard in midfield. It was always difficult for them. Jordan Stubbington was regularly getting over the gain line backed up by Mo Pangarker and Max Easton all of which meant that Guildford struggled to get any foothold in the second half.

The final score of the game came in the 75th minute. Another great line out steal from Max Easton saw Garofalo and Harvey move the ball wide for Alfie Orris to finish smartly. Dan Harvey converted to make the final score 51-17.

Coach Taff Gwilliam said “ We played some great stuff today scoring some superb tries. Guildford never gave up to their credit but i was pleased with our tempo and execution”.

Farnham 5 Medway 22 (London 1 South) 03rd October 2021

Medway travelled to Surrey on Saturday to take on newly promoted Farnham in this league encounter. On an excellent playing surface, the game kicked off with the wind and rain at Medway’s back.  Given the conditions the skill set from both teams was to be commended. Although Medway had the elements with them it was Farnham who started the stronger. A scrum on the halfway line saw Farnham attack the open side. Good handling, running lines and a missed tackle saw the unconverted try scored in the corner. 5-0.  Medway, understandably given the conditions, began to dominate field position. With Billy Sandison, Max Easton, Jordan Stubbington and Henry Kenny securing good line out possession and the Medway scrum functioning well Penalties on 18, 35 and 39 minutes followed which were all kicked by Owen Church-Mills to grind out and secure a 5-9 half time lead.

The second half saw an expectant home crowd will their players on to overturn the slender lead. Within a few minutes of the re-start Farnham were awarded a penalty in front of the posts. Inexplicably the kick was missed.  Despite the miss Farnham continued to press their visitors and a number of catch and drive lineouts and pick and go’s’ on the Medway line were repulsed. The Medway defence held firm. Good work from Jack Johnson and Alfie Orris relieved the pressure to give the visitors breathing space.  On 52 minutes an excellent box kick from Sam Garofalo backed up by a good kick chase saw Alfie Orris drive Medway deep into the Farnham half winning a lineout. Medway won the ball and Orris was unlucky not to score. However, the home side were penalised for going offside. Church-Mills slotted the kick into the wind. 5-12.  Farnham came back with their influential No 8 and sharp scrum half leading the way. Despite good field position they could not break down the resolute Medway defence with Antony Clement, Max Bullock and Sean Marriott all making excellent tackles.  On 65 minutes Medway scored their only try of the game. An excellent team try. A midfield scrum saw Medway attack. Good work from Jack Johnson got Medway over the gain line supported by Tom Beaumont, Mo Pangarker and Sean Marriott. Billy Sandison then drove into the midfield with Jack Nickalls and Richard Petch in support. The ball was then fed wide where Antony Clement Max Bullock, Owen Church-Mills and Alfie Orris gained good ground and securing possession. Another Phase through Max Easton, Henry Kenny and Jordan Stubbington stretched the home defence for Sam Garofalo to feed Alfie Orris. Orris was tackled short of the line after a good run, but Max Bullock was in support to receive the offload and score.  Owen Church-Mills kicked an excellent conversion and Medway led 5-19.b Medway freshened their team up bringing veteran Billy Humphrey and Harrison Cooper-Meadows on for, man of the match, Mo Pangarker and Richard Petch.  Farnham looked to try and get back into the game but with fresh legs giving Medway a fillip they continued to be resolute in Defence. Any hopes of a late Farnham come back were extinguished on 75 mins when they conceded a penalty just inside their own half. Owen Church-Mills rounded off an excellent kicking day from the tee day to slot the kick into the wind and rain ensuring victory for the visitors.

Coach Taff Gwilliam said “This a good win on the road in very difficult conditions. Despite their league position Farnham are well organised team and will win plenty of games.”

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”.

 

Medway 55 London Irish WG 14 ( London 1 South) 18th September 2021

Medway’s second league game of the season saw them take on London Irish Wild Geese for the first time in their history. On a hot sunny Saturday afternoon at Priestfields Medway kicked off playing into the breeze. The home side were fielding a number of changes from the previous week with Harrison Cooper-Meadows, Sam Bailey and Jack Johnson making their league debuts for the club. The opening exchanges saw Medway dominate field position and take the game to their visitors. On 6 minutes however a loose offload in the Irish 22 saw their right winger accept the gift and run the distance of the field to score a converted try and take the lead 0-7. Medway were undeterred. Tom Beaumont marshalled his players and they came straight back at Irish. A line out saw Henry Kenny carry strongly, then Cullen Daly attacked the blind and put Alfie Orris in for the equalising score with Daniel Harvey adding the extras. 7-7. Harvey put Medway ahead a few minutes later with a well struck penalty following the visits transgressing the offside line. 10-7. Medway increased their lead soon after when Cullen Daly combined with Zac Garratt to gain good field position. Irish go off the feet and Medway kick for the corner. From the line out Jordan Stubbington drove over from short range for the second try converted by Daniel Harvey. 17-7.

 The visitors were stung into action and gained good ground and had a number of pick and gas and phases on the Medway line. Cullen Daly was sin binned for illegal clearing at the ruck then after several more phases Daniel Harvey was sin binned for a high tackle. Down to 13 men Medway provided stout defence but eventually Irish managed to get over line for a converted try. 17-14.  With just 13 men Medway looked to keep the ball and prevent Irish from capitalising on their numerical advantage. On one of the Medway drives the visitors are penalised for holding on in the tackle. Debutant Jack Johnson stepped up and calmly slotted the kick to make the score 20-16. As half-time approached Medway are back up to their full compliment and win a line out in the London Irish half. The ball is moved wide for Alfie Orris who finishes well. The conversion is missed and Medway lead 25-14 at half time.

 The second half began and Medway pinned their opposition deep in their half. Harrison Cooper-Meadows and Sean Marriott making notable tackles. With the breeze at their backs Medway pressed hard. The visitors were forced into conceding penalties. The front row of Jack Nickalls, Billy Sandison and Richard Petch were dominant and Harvey made no mistake stretching the lead out to 31-14. On 50 minutes Medway put the game beyond the visitors. From the converted penalty re-start, man of the match, Mo Pangarker gathered the ball under pressure. Cullen Daly fed Jack Johnson who kicked deep into the Irish half. A good kick chase pressured the visitors into a poor clearance kick. Cullen Daly fielded the ball and moves the ball to Daniel Harvey and he provides Alfie Orris the space to beat his man and as the cover looked to close Orris down he passed back inside for Harvey to score and convert his own try making the score 38-14. The next try came on 56 minutes. Great work by Zach Garratt on the right wing saw Medway go through the phases and eventually Cullen Daly and Antony Clement exploited the lack of defence on the blindside on the other side of the field and and score through Clement. Harvey converted 45-14. Harvey added another penalty to his tally 10 minutes later to move the score out to 48-14. Irish never stopped playing and showed good character. From some late attacks Medway were reduced to 14 men when Antony Clement saw yellow for obstruction. The final score of the game was a classic blindside attack from a scrum in their 22m. Jordan Stubbington and Cullen Daly combined to feed Zach Garratt who rounded his man and went the length of the field outpacing the cover defence to score a fine try. Owen Church-Mills converted to make the final score 55-15.

 A good Medway performance and a good start to the season with 2 bonus point wins.Coach Taff Gwilliam said “This victory shows the depth of our squad with a number of players missing today. There is competition for places. This was a good performance but there were a number of aspects of our game we still need to improve if we are to challenge for top honours”. He added “ It was a great win against such a notable club as Irish so the boys can rightly be proud of their performance”.

Medway 30 KCS Old Boys 0 ( London 1 South) 04th September 2021

Medway entertained their visitors, KCS Old Boys, at Priestfields on Saturday in the opening game of the long-awaited return to league rugby. Both sides looked to play whenever the opportunity presented itself so the large crowd, boosted by the Vice Presidents and Sponsor lunch attendees, were treated an entertaining game. Medway ran out winners by 30 points to nil scoring a bonus point in the process. The win was largely thanks to a dominant Medway set piece and an off day for the visitor’s kickers. KCS had several opportunities to put pressure on the home side, but their kicking errors meant that the Medway line and team were rarely put under significant pressure.

The visitors kicked off at 3pm and Medway retained possession and went through several phases gaining good field position then eventually winning a penalty with Daniel Harvey slotting it in the 3rd minute. 3-0. With the wind at their backs Medway continued to dominate field position and on 10 minutes Harvey was again successful from another KCS infringement. 6-0. On 24 minutes, and the KCS penalty count rising, Medway had another kickable penalty but opted for the corner. Church-Mills was accurate with the kick and the Medway pack executed well with Hooker Billy Humphrey scoring an unconverted try out wide. 11-0. KCS came back and some excellent play out wide saw them eventually get over the Medway line but unfortunately for them they knocked the ball on in the process. Medway cleared their lines with a series of phases. Sam Garofalo keeping the tempo up with quick and accurate distribution found Medway closing in on the visitor’s line. Sean Marriott, making his league debut, look all set to score however the visitors full back made a brave tackle hurting himself in the process. The referee rightly stopped the game for the fullback to be attended to. He was forced to leave the field, but we are pleased to say he was not seriously hurt. The scrum re-start saw the dominant Medway pack drive KCS back over their line and No 8 Jordan Stubbington, who showed good ball control at the base all day, scored the second Medway try. Harvey converted and Medway led 18-0 at half time. The dominant Medway pack were the platform for their half time lead winning several penalties and putting the visitors under pressure at both scrum and lineout. Maik Timmerman, Harrison Cooper-Meadows and Henry Kenny were all making their debuts and played very well. Man of Match Max Easton along with Jordan Stubbington were impressive all day as were Jack Nickalls and the veteran Billy Humphrey. They were all very ably led by team captain Tom Beaumont.

The second half kicked off with the breeze at the visitors back. The first 20 minutes saw no scoring with the visitors trying to get back in the game, but their indiscipline and poor kicking let them down. The Medway defence was solid and in possession retained the ball well thus frustrating the visitors’ efforts. On 72 minutes the visitors’ final hopes of a late comeback were extinguished. Church-Mills found touch from another KCS penalty. The Medway lineout misfired slightly on this occasion but good tidying work from Matthew Beard provided front foot ball and slick hands out wide saw Zachary Garratt with a high-quality finish beating the cover defence to score Medway’s 3rd try.  Harvey hit the post with the conversion leaving the score at 23-0. The final play of the match found Medway with a scrum 5m from their own line. A solid platform from the front five once again saw Jordan Stubbington off the back of the scrum. He fed Lordi Waqa, another Medway debutant replacing the impressive Antony Clement, Waqa broke the visitors defensive line gaining good yards then offloaded to the supporting Beard. Beard fed Church-Mills who held the cover defence and then fed the talented Max Bullock on a great line who beat the last defenders and ran round under the posts. Dan Harvey converted, and Medway were worthy winners by 30-0.

A solid start to the new season. Medway will get better as they continue to work on elements of their game. KCS for their part never gave up showing character and if, their backs who looked very dangerous at times, get enough ball will cause teams problems. However, in this game it was always an uphill task with no front foot ball.

Medway’s next league game is at home to London Irish Wild Geese on 18th September.