Medway 25 Beckenham 0 (London 1 South) 29th February

Saturday saw Medway take on fellow Kent side Beckenham RFC on a very windy afternoon. The clubs were also playing for the Jim Kennedy Memorial Trophy whose family were stalwarts of both clubs.  Beckenham came into this league game on the back of a fine win last week against Cobham. They won the toss and elected to play into the very strong breeze.  Medway kicked off and soon had the visitors pinned back. Chances came but handling errors from Medway and stout defence from Beckenham kept the visitors line intact.  On 11 minutes Medway secured good line out ball. Accurate throwing from Bill Sandison in the conditions saw Medway drive towards the line. Beckenham held the drive, the ball was moved wide, good handling put Orris in space on the outside and he beat the cover defence to score an unconverted try. 5-0.  Medway again camped themselves in the Beckenham half and pressed for another score but despite the conditions at their back Medway could not break the Beckenham defensive resolve. James Cleverly, Liam Markey and Henry Kenny particularly prominent for Beckenham.  With 22 minutes gone Medway won a scrum penalty on the 22m in front of the posts and Dan Harvey made no mistake to put the lead out to 8-0.  The final score of the first half came after 35 minutes. More pressure from Medway saw a penalty won and Harvey kicked into the corner. Sandison and Stubbington combined and Medway attacked short and then moved the ball wide for Orris in space who finished sharply for another unconverted try.  The teams went into half time with Medway leading 13-0 but given the conditions Beckenham were probably the happier of the two sides. The elements were such that just a two score lead looked very slender.

The Medway team needed to exert a lot more control than they did in the first half if they were to secure a victory. The Medway front five of Jack Nickalls, Bill Sandision, Alex O’ Leary, Christian Hechter and Joe Fernyhough started the second half strongly and were dominating their counterparts. This provided the platform for James Dance, Billy Humphrey, Tom Beaumont and Jordan Stubbington to up the tempo and play keep ball into the wind with good carries.   Despite the conditions Medway kept their visitors at bay. Good ball control and solid defence starved Beckenham of scoring opportunities.  Beckenham did have a chance after 20 minutes to narrow the gap. A Medway breakdown infringement saw Beckenham kick at goal but the ball slid by the wrong side of the post.  Beckenham kept their field position pressure up and were attacking on the Medway 22m when they moved the ball wide. Full back Sam Garofalo came into the defensive line anticipated and picked off the pass. He then ran the length of the field to score an unconverted try. 18-0.  The interception was a real body blow to Beckenham and this was compounded shortly after when the Medway scrum won a series of penalties and the influential Jamie Cleverly was sent to the sin bin.  A man short and with the Medway scrum dominating Beckenham were vulnerable. From the re-set scrum Medway took advantage of the Beckenham short handed defence and good handling from Antony Clement and Max Bullock put Orris away to complete his hatrick. Dan Harvey converted and Medway led 25-0 with the try bonus point secured.  Medway then brought on some fresh legs to see out the game. Luke Burns came on for Alfie Orris. Ciaran Slater replaced Bill Humphrey and Ross Cooley replaced Alex O’ Leary.  Beckenham showed good character and again pressed the Medway line with time running out. However turnovers and a couple of powerful runs from Burns and a great line out steal from Christian Hechter on the Medway 5m line ensured that Medway kept a clean sheet.

Beckenham’s performance belied their league position. They were a tough abrasive side who did very well particularly in the first half. The Medway coach Taff Gwilliam said “ Beckenham had an excellent first half, we did not have enough points on the board but we improved in the second half controlling the ball better into the strong wind and from a good scrum platform were able to deny Beckenham the chances they needed to overturn our slender first half lead” He added “ I think Jim Kennedy would have enjoyed that game”.

Chichester 22 Medway 22 (London 1 South) 22nd February 2020

Medway travelled down to West Sussex on Saturday to take on a Chichester side lying 8th in the league with 10 wins. Chichester are renowned for being tough to beat on their ground and so it proved.  The game kicked off on a good Oaklands Park playing surface with the home side playing with the breeze at their back. With only 2 minutes gone Chichester scored. Some weak defence combined with some good handling skills saw them scamper over out wide for an unconverted try.  On 10 minutes Medway responded. A scrum penalty was won on the half way line. Dan Harvey kicked in the corner and Bill Sandison combined with Jordan Stubbington to secure the ball. The Medway forwards combined and drove over the line securing the try through Captain Tom Beaumont. Harvey converted and Medway led 5-7.  Despite playing into the wind Medway started to dominate possession and go through the phases. A penalty for not releasing at the breakdown saw James Dance tap and go and get behind the home defensive line. With Chichester scrambling the ball was fed to Max Bullock who changed the direction of the attack and fed Antony Clement who ran a superb short line to score near the posts. Harvey converted to make the score 5-14.  Medway were then reduced to 14 men with lock Jordan Stubbington sent to the bin for transgressing on the Medway line. Chichester opted for the line out and after a secondary effort eventually scored an unconverted try in the corner. 10-14  The re-start did not go the required 10 metres and Chichester put the ball behind Medway. Although the ball was recovered the clearance kick failed to make touch and Chichester ran it back with good handling to score again. This time the conversion was good and Chichester led 17-14.  With Medway restored to a full compliment Chichester were still pressing to improve their lead. Medway defended their line well forced the turnover retained the ball and kicked it out to end the half behind.

The second half kicked off and Medway gained early possession. They went through some phases gaining good ground with Tom Beaumont, Jordan Stubbington, Bill Humphrey, Dan Huntley and Bill Sandison all very prominent. A penalty was won on the Chichester 10 metre line and Dan Harvey kicked it to level the scores.  The next 15 minutes was a pretty even affair both sides trying to impose themselves on the other. That was until Medway had their second player sent to the sin bin. James Dance was penalised for a breakdown offence. The versatile Sam Garofalo moved into the scrum half role.  Chichester opted for the line out but improved defence with Christian Hechter proving a nuisance to the opposition in the lineout held them at bay.  Medway replaced Bill Humphrey with Ciaran Slater, with Jack Nickalls having replaced Ross Cooley at half time. Both players worked hard with their limited game time.  On 70 minutes Chichester re-took the lead. A kick in behind the Medway defence saw the ball re-gathered by the home side for them to score an unconverted try out wide.  The last 10 minutes was all Medway. This on the back of a dominant scrum which had seen Ross Cooley, Bill Sandison, Jack Nickalls and Alex O’Leary dominate their counterparts throughout the game.  With time up Medway eventually managed to secure a scrum under the home posts as the last play. Medway drove for the line. After 3 pens for illegal scrummaging the referee gave a yellow card to the home front row player.  Medway opted for the scrum. Again and again Medway drove for the winning try but the home side transgressed each time. A second yellow was issued to another front row player. Controversially and to the amazement of both the home and away supporters the referee did not award the penalty try instead the scrums then became uncontested. Another penalty followed.  Medway were forced to use their obvious numerical advantage and the ball was moved wide for Alfie Orris to touch down for the try and level the score. The conversion hit the post and the match finished a draw.  The supporters of both sides were treated to a real see saw game where both sides looked to play good rugby. Although Medway dominated at the end Chichester also has their own periods where they had opportunities to add to their score when Medway were twice down to 14 men.

Coach Taff Gwilliam said “This is always a tough place to go and Chichester’s home form belies their league position. There are no easy games in this league which recent results testify to”.  When asked about the scrums at the end of the game said “The referee made decisions as he saw it and we have to accept that. He is a good referee”.


Medway 27 London Cornish 20 (London 1 South) 15th February 2020

Saturday not only entertained old rivals London Cornish but also Storm Dennis. The match kicked off in strong winds which favoured a much improved London Cornish side in the first half. With two wins and a very narrow defeat to promotion chasing Cobham in their last three outings Medway knew they were in for a tough match and so it proved.  Medway received the ball and looked to retain possession playing into the elements. Good ball retention and structures allowed Medway to drive into the Cornish 22 and having narrowed the visitors defence the ball was moved wide for Orris to cut an excellent running line and score the unconverted try in the corner. 5-0.  On the re-start London Cornish managed to turn the ball over and after a couple of phases Medway infringed at the breakdown and the visitors scrum half moved the ball quickly, a kick in behind the Medway defence saw the Cornish winger win the race for the touchdown. The try was converted and Cornish went ahead 5-7.  With the elements behind them Cornish were dominating territory. Another penalty conceded by Medway was kicked successfully and the Cornish lead went out to 5-10.  London Cornish were in the ascendency but a yellow card to one of their powerful locks on 16 minutes hampered their ability to compete at the set piece.  Medway capitalised when following 3 consecutive penalties at a scrum on the London Cornish line they conceded a penalty try and the lead to Medway. 12-10.  With Cornish back to full strength they pinned Medway back and camped themselves in Medway’s 22. Time and again London Cornish hammered at the Medway line but the home defence held strong. All the visitors had to show for the territorial dominance was another penalty for offside. 12-13.  Medway were delighted and went into half time just a single point down having played against the elements and defended their line for long periods.

Medway now looked to capitalise on the elements at their back but that was slightly undone when on 49 minutes centre Antony Clement was judged to have been late in a tackle and sent to the sin bin.  On 51 minutes Medway were awarded a penalty just inside the visitors half and with a strong wind behind and down to 14 men Medway opted to kick and Dan Harvey was on target to put Medway ahead 15-13.  The lead however was short lived. With Medway down to 14 men London Cornish upped  the tempo looking to take advantage and did so deservedly. A penalty was taken quickly and moved by the visiting scrum half good support play was rewarded with a sharp try. The conversion was good and London Cornish led 15-20.  Medway introduced fresh legs with Ross Cooley and Ciaran Slater replacing young Jack Nickalls and the experienced Billy Humphrey both of whom had performed excellently.  On 60 minutes Medway narrowed the gap. The Medway scrum with Cooley, Bill Sandison and Alex O’ Leary dominating their counterparts infringements followed. Harvey was on target with the penalty from one such offence 18-20.  With Medway dominating the scrum and field position with good game management another penalty followed on 65 minutes. Harvey slotted once again for Medway to re-take the lead 21-20. He backed that up with yet another penalty for a high tackle 4 minutes later to make the score 24-20.  Medway thought they had sealed the game a few minutes later when as they were about to drive over the visitors line to score from a scrum they were adjudged to have sheered off and were penalised.  Cornish kept battling away and each time they got into the Medway half Medway held them turned the ball over and kicked them back deep into their own half.  On 74 minutes the London Cornish frustration came to head when they penalised for crossing when counter-attacking then marched back for speaking out of turn to the referee. A difficult kick became easier and Harvey made no mistake to increase the home lead to 27-20.  The game finished with Cornish pinned back in their 22m. To the credit of London Cornish this was a hard fought, tight affair and given the conditions both sides played an excellent game of rugby to entertain the hardy crowd.

Coach Taff Gwilliam said “….both coaches were pleased to get the game on and the teams did well in very trying conditions.” He added “We are delighted with the victory, Cornish are a much improved side with some quality players. We wish them well in their efforts to climb the league”

KCS Old Boys 12 Medway 36 (London 1 South) 01st February 2020

The home side’s staff had worked hard right up to kick off time to ensure the heavy pitch was playable and that the match would go ahead. Medway were looking to bounce back after their narrow defeat to the league leaders the previous week.  With a strong wind blowing across the pitch the game kicked off. The KCS Old Boys dominated the opening exchanges and pinned Medway back for long periods of time. Despite dominating possession and territory the home side could not break down the Medway defence.  The first score of the game did not come until the 30th minute. In what was virtually Medway’s first foray into the KCS 22m they won a penalty for offside at the ruck. Dan Harvey made no mistake with the kick and against the run of play Medway were ahead 0-3.  Just after the re-start with KCS pressing Dan Harvey produced the kick of the afternoon, he was under pressure forced inside and using his weaker left the foot drilled the kick from his own 22m down the line and into touch on the home 10m.  On 34 minutes Medway stole the ball at the line out through Christian Hechter and Harvey fed Alfie Orris who burst through the home defence to score under the posts. Harvey converted and Medway now led 0-10.  The Medway scrum was beginning to dominate the home side and a couple of quick scrum penalties in succession saw Medway break out from their own half good interplay from Orris, Antony Clement and Max Bullock saw the home side concede a 5m scrum on their own line. The Medway pack drove for the line but KCS infringed and the referee went under posts awarding the penalty try. 0-17 to Medway at half time.

The second half kicked off with both teams looking to play expansively despite the heavy conditions. On 49 minutes Ciaran Slater replaced Bill Sandison at hooker.  The next score went to Medway when after a series of phases and Medway playing under a penalty advantage Dan Harvey kicked behind the home defence and Alfie Orris won the race for the try which was unconverted. 0-22.  Medway introduced fresh legs with James Dance replacing Rhys Burns, Dance moving to 9 and the versatile Sam Garofalo moving to full back.  The home side having dominated most of the first half were now throwing everything at Medway running at every opportunity.  On 65 minutes Medway were penalised for a breakdown infringement and the home fly half tapped and went quickly Antony Clement tackled him but adjudged by the referee to be inside the 10m. Clement was sent to the sin bin for 10 minutes.  KCS opted for the line out. They secured the ball and drove but were stopped. With the visitors backs one short the ball was moved wide and KCS scored a well taken unconverted try in the corner. 5-22.  Adam Dady came off the bench for his first appearance for Medway this season replacing the solid performing Billy Humphrey.  On 70 minutes with Medway still down to 14 men they went through a series of phases looking to retain possession. From one such breakdown the ball was fed right and centre Max Bullock got outside his marker threw a dummy pass and sliced open the home defence. He then out sprinted the cover defence to score a fine individual try and secure the bonus point. Harvey added the conversion and Medway led 5-29.  KCS to their credit never stopped playing and they were rewarded for their endeavours in 74th minute. Again spurning kicks at goal they opted for a line out won the ball and eventually drove over the line for the try which was converted to bring the score to 12-29.  The final act of the match saw Medway pressing in the home 22m to add to their tally. KCS infringed at the breakdown just outside the 5m line. James Dance tapped quickly and was tackled illegally short of the line. The referee had no hesitation going under the posts awarding the penalty try to make the final score 12-36.

Medway coach Taff Gwilliam said ‘…..we are delighted to have bounced back from last weeks defeat. Our defence was superb in the first half when KCS dominated and threw everything at us’. He added ‘ as the game progressed our scrum dominated and provided the platform for our victory’


Medway 23 Havant 29 (London 1 South) 25th January 2020

Priestfields on Saturday saw Medway entertain old Hampshire rivals Havant. Games between these two sides are always hard fought close affairs and in the end this match was no different.  Havant kicked off and Medway dominated the early possession and territory. Although going through the phases the Havant defence was solid and the first points of the game came from the boot of Dan Harvey following a breakdown infringement from the visitors. 3-0.  Havant’s reply came after 20 minutes. On one of their first forays into the Medway 22m Havant were clinical. An attacking scrum saw the ball fed wide to their winger who took his chance well in the corner. Visiting fly half Knight was on target and Havant led 3-7. The Havant score was somewhat against the run of play and Medway soon responded with another Harvey penalty to make the score 6-7.  If the first Havant try was against the run of the rest of the half saw them take control. On 27 minutes Medway conceded a try from a driving play near to their line. This was unconverted 6-12.  Havant followed that up with another try. A kick through behind the defensive line was not dealt with and Havant regathered the ball and scored the converted try to make the score 6-19.  Medway responded with another Harvey penalty following a crossing offence in front of their own posts. 9-19. That penalty was soon cancelled out when as Havant dominated and pressed the Medway line Orris was adjudged to have illegally prevented quick ball. Not only did Havant kick the resultant penalty but Alfie Orris was sent to the sin bin for 10 mins. 6-22.  Medway had a chance to narrow the score on the stroke of half time but they failed to execute at a 5m line out.

 Medway started the second half still down to 14 men but managed to keep the visitors at bay. Orris rejoined the fray and most of the second half thereafter belonged to Medway. Now dominating territory and possession, Medway, in an effort to force the score saw a loose pass in midfield intercepted. The Havant player raced away from inside his own half to score. Knight converted to put the Havant lead out to 9-29.  The young Medway side however did not give up. They showed application and character and gradually cut the visitors lead. On 50 minutes an excellently worked catch and drive line out was touched down by James Dance. Harvey converted. 16-29.  A scrum penalty in the 67th minutes saw James Dance tap and go, although stopped short of the line the ball was moved quickly and young 18 year old centre Max Bullock crashed over. Harvey again converted to put Medway within a single score of a remarkable comeback.  The final 10 minutes saw Medway press the Havant line. The Havant defence, as it was in the first half, held firm. Medway had three clear cut opportunities to steal the win but a combination of the visitors stout defence and a lack of accuracy ensured that at the end of the day Havant secured the win and outright lead at the top of the league table.

 Coach Taff Gwilliam said “..although disappointed to lose I cannot fault the effort and attitude of the team. They worked tirelessly and almost pulled off a great comeback” he added “credit to Havant their defence was top drawer and I am sure if they continue to play this way will secure the promotion they crave”.

Horsham 27 Medway 21 (London 1 South) 18th January 2020

Medway travelled to Horsham on Saturday without regulars James Dance and Alex O’Leary. Sam Garofalo and Ross Cooley replacing them with Bill Sandison, Christian Hecter and debutant Cullen Daly on the bench.  The weather was bright, sunny and still, perfect conditions for running rugby on Horsham’s new artificial pitch.  Medway started brightly controlling possession and putting multiple phases together. From a lineout on the Horsham 22 Medway were awarded a penalty after the Horsham backs drifted offside, Dan Harvey converted to give Medway a 3 – 0 lead.  Medway were controlling the game at this stage and when Horsham were caught offside again Dan Harvey increased the lead to 6 – 0.  On 15 minutes Medway won another lineout through Max Easton, Dan Huntley broke the Horsham line and passed inside to skipper Tom Beaumont who scored under the posts, Dan Harvey converted and Medway were going well leading 13 – 0.  Medway continued to go through their patterns but were penalised for an offence at the breakdown,  Horsham kicked to the corner and won good lineout ball. After multiple drives at the Medway line they scored a well deserved try but the conversion was missed, Medway 13 – Horsham 5.  On 25 minutes Medway lost their hooker Billy Humphrey, he was replaced by Bill Sandison.  Horsham were getting themselves back into the game and after winning a lineout on the Medway 22 they scored another try under the posts when their fly half cut a good line through the Medway defence. Medway 13 – Horsham 12.  After further Medway pressure they were awarded a penalty after Horsham were caught offside on their 22meter line, Harvey slotted the kick. Medway 16 – Horsham 12 was the half time score.  Medway had played well in this half but were guilty of giving away some needless penalties.

Eight minutes into the second half Medway’s Dan Harvey was yellow carded for a high tackle on the 22, Horsham kicked to the corner but excellent defence denied them a scoring opportunity.  Medway worked hard to negate the temporary loss of Harvey and after a number of phases some slick inter passing a subtle pass from Max Bullock put Alfie Orris away for a try in the corner.  The conversion was missed, Medway 21 – Horsham 12.  Medway worked hard and didn’t concede any points when down to 14 men, a good effort which the travelling faithful thought would lead to an eventual victory.  However after 20 minutes a deliberate knock on by Medway allowed Horsham to reduce the lead by kicking the resulting penalty, Medway 21 – Horsham 15.  Medway bounced back and after a lineout offence by Horsham had an opportunity to increase their lead but missed penalty.  With the game in the balance the Horsham hooker charged upfield and after some poor tackling was eventually hauled down in the Medway 22. From the resulting scrum Horsham broke the Medway defence to score under the posts, the conversion was successful. Medway 21 – Horsham 22.  Horsham were going well and forced a scrum in the Medway 22 and after phases of attack scored a another try, the conversion was missed. Medway 22 – Horsham 27.  Medway lost full back Rhys Burns and prop Ross Cooley to injury so the scrums became uncontested, they were replaced by Cullen Daly and Christian Hector.  Medway attacked tirelessly during the final minutes but were unable to break the excellent Horsham defence.

The Medway coach Taff Gwilliam said; a disappointing result for Medway but on balance Horsham deserved the win and we offer them our congratulations.

Medway 32 Belsize Park 7 (London 1 South) 11th January 2020

On a cold and very windy January afternoon in Kent, local side Medway entertained North London rivals Belsize Park at Priestfields in this Division 1 clash. A good sized crowd was present to cheer their sides on.  Belsize Park came to Priestfields having won 4 of their previous 5 outings so were going to be a stern test. The match was sponsored by an old Medway stalwart living in Australia these days, Mike Boucher.  With the strong wind blowing straight down the pitch it was Medway who were first to face the elements. Belsize Park kicked off and for 15 minutes Medway were pinned back in their own 22m. Good solid team defence kept the visitors at bay. Although pinned back Medway with Dan Harvey orchestrating things looked to retain possession when they did have it.  Strong ball carrying by forwards Dan Huntley, Mo Pangarker, Max Easton and Jordan Stubbington with excellent support saw Medway deny their visitors the possession they craved. The front row of Jack Nickalls, Billy Humphrey and Alex O’ Leary were putting their counterparts under a lot of pressure at the scrum taking away the solid platform the visitors craved.  The game was scoreless until the 25th minute. Young Max Bullock was stripped of possession in contact as he tried to carry out from just outside the Medway 22m and the Belsize centre raced away unopposed to score the converted try under the posts. 0-7.  Medway responded well. Winning back to back penalties Captain Tom Beaumont rightly opted to gain field position rather than attempt long range penalties at goal. Medway went through many phases and scrums attacking the visitors line but their defence held firm. Despite not scoring Medway frustrated their visitors with good ball retention for long periods playing into the elements.  Belsize eventually cleared their lines and camped themselves deep into the Medway half. A ball won from a visitors scrum on the Medway 22m saw the attacking pass go to ground. Max Bullock scooped it up and went the length of field outstripping the chasing Belsize Park defence to score an excellent individual try. The difficult conversion was missed.  Medway went into half time behind 5-7 but satisfied with their performance considering the elements.

The second half kicked off, Medway had the elements at their back, and this soon paid dividends when the Belsize scrum conceded a penalty under pressure. Just inside the visitors half with the wind behind Dan Harvey’s successful kick gave Medway the lead for the first time. 8-7.  Medway looked to dominate field position and squeeze their visitors but to the Belsize Park credit they always tried to play rugby from deep in an attempt to stay in the game.  Medway made changes with Rhys Burns replacing James Dance, Christian Hechter replacing Jordan Stubbington and Ross Cooley replacing Jack Nickalls.  The visitors attempt to stay in the game though was destroyed by the same combination with 2 tries in an 8 minute period.  Dan Harvey and Alfie Orris. The first try saw Medway win consecutive rucks balls and as the visitors looked to defend out wide an inside ball from Harvey opened up the line and put Orris away to score. Harvey added the conversion.  The Harvey Orris combination was on hand once again. Conor Chalmers  gathered a poor kick out from defence and set up the ruck then with Harvey creating the space holding the inside defence he put Orris away on the outside this time. Harvey converted and Medway led 22-7.  Medway now craved the bonus point. The forwards continued to pound away but the Belsize defence never gave up. With their front line defence holding firm with good line speed and tackling Harvey saw space behind and kicked over. Antony Clement capped off a solid hardworking performance by racing through re-gathering the ball and scoring under the posts thus sealing the win and the bonus point to the delight of the home crowd.  The final act of the game went to Dan Harvey as he kicked a penalty in front of the posts to make the final score 32-7.

Coach Taff Gwilliam said ‘ Belsize Park are a good side. We are delighted to have won with the bonus point. Today was about controlling the ball in the elements. Tom Beaumont led the team well with good decision making and Dan Harvey’s game management was superb. With the clinical finishing of Alfie Orris, Max Bullock and Antony Clement it was very satisfying for all’.

Camberley 10 Medway 12 (London 1 South) 04th January 2020

Medway travelled to 3rd placed Camberley on Saturday for their first game after the Christmas break. Alex O’Leary and Sam Garofalo were restored to the team for what was expected to be a hard fought encounter. Camberley were comfortable winners at Medway earlier in the season.  To welcome in the new year the weather was bright and dry with a stiff breeze blowing the length of the pitch.  Camberley started brightly retaining possession and going through multiple phases as they advanced towards the Medway line. Medway’s defence was solid and after 5 minutes of relentless pressures they won a scrum following a Camberley knock-on.  The scrum was won comfortably but unfortunately the kick to touch was missed and Camberley were back on the offensive. Medway eventually won the ball back but knocked-on, however, they  drove the Camberley scrum backwards winning the first of numerous scrum penalties.  On 25 minutes Medway lost their Hooker Billy Sandison to a calf injury, he was replaced by the evergreen Ross Cooley.  Then it was Medway’s turn to attack but the excellent Camberley defence kept them out and that was the pattern for the remainder of the first half, lots of effort but neither side being able to break the defensive line.

The first half ended 0 – 0.

Medway had a penalty early in the second half but the kick was missed.  On 50 minutes Camberley won a lineout, drove forward then moved the ball through the backs and scored a well worked try. The kick was missed but Camberley had the all important lead, 5 – 0.  After good work by the Camberley pack they drove over the Medway line to score another try, the kick was missed but they now lead by 10 – 0.  Medway worked hard to get themselves back into the game and were camped on the Camberley 5 meter line, after numerous scrum penalties the Camberley loose head prop was yellow carded. They eventually cleared their line.  On 75minutes after a strong break into the Camberley half by Max Bullock the resulting breakdown ball was  kicked cross-field for Alfie Orris to gather and score for Medway. Dan Harvey slotted the conversion to make the score 10 – 7 to Camberley.  This raised the self-belief of this young Medway side and they continued to attack but desperate Camberley defence kept them out. Then following another Camberley penalty at the breakdown  James Dance took a quick tap catching the defence unawares and squeezed over the line for the winning try! The conversion was narrowly missed and the referee blew his whistle for no side.

An exciting end to a hard fought game played in the right spirit.

Medway 23 Thurrock 8 (London 1 South) 21st December 2019

On a wet and windy day at Priestfields Medway entertained Essex rivals Thurrock. The visitors have been in good form recently with three fine wins and scoring well over a 100 points. For their part Medway were keen to bounce back after the narrowest of defeats to league leaders Westcombe Park last week.  Medway’s pre-match preparations were hampered when top try scorer Alfie Orris was forced to withdraw with an ankle problem. Young Zachary Garratt replaced him and did a sterling job throughout the game.  The home side played against the elements in the first half but despite this were on the score board first.  The home side won a penalty from the set piece and the referee allowed the game to continue under advantage and Dan Harvey put a excellent kick in behind the home defence for Conor Chalmers to run onto and score in the corner. Harvey landed a great conversion with the ball bouncing over off both post and crossbar. 7-0.  Medway failed to deal with the re-start and Thurrock won a penalty at the breakdown. They kicked for the corner and although their catch and drive was stopped they still managed to score from close range. The conversion was missed. 7-5.  On 17 minutes with Thurrock, enjoying territorial advantage with the wind at their backs, forced Medway to concede a penalty. The kick was successful and the visitors led 7-8.  Medway responded on 24 minutes when they won a penalty at the scrum. Jack Nickalls, Bill Sandison and Ross Colley were dominating their counterparts. Harvey was on target and Medway took the lead 10-8.  Medway re-gathered the ball from the re-start and kept control against the elements. Going through multiple phases with Tom Beaumont, Mo Pangarker, Dan Huntley, Jordan Stubbington and Max Easton all carrying hard backed up by Antony Clement and Max Bullock they worked their way up the pitch. Thurrock were penalised in front of their posts for not releasing in the tackle. Harvey was accurate as ever. 13-8.  Medway went into half time with no further score. Medway replaced Jordan Stubbington with young Christian Hechter for the start of the second half.

The half saw Medway dominate field position and the visitors cause was not helped when after 48 minutes their Blindside flanker was yellow carded for a no arms tackle.  Medway added to their points tally 3 minutes later with another Harvey penalty for offside at a line out. 16-8.  Medway were soon on the attack again after the re-start. Another scrum infringement by Thurrock saw James Dance take a quick tap and go. He got behind the visitors defence and good support won quick ball. The visitors could not get their defence set for the next few phases and Captain Tom Beaumont eventually burst through to score the try. Harvey converted. 23-8.  Sam Garofalo came on replacing Rhys Burns who had done a sterling job for the side.  With 25 minutes still to play Medway were keen to add to their score but credit to Thurrock they never gave up. They battled hard at the breakdown and carried robustly in an effort to get back into the game.  When they were camped back on their own line under pressure Medway won three scrum penalties in a row. They were thwarted illegally and the home side opted for the scrum each time. Thurrock eventually held out with the home crowd disappointed that a penalty try was not awarded.  To the credit of Thurrock they defended their line well eventually forcing Medway into touch and clearing their lines.  On 65 minutes with Medway still pressing Thurrock suffered another yellow card for a late tackle on Chalmers. Medway then introduced Ciaran Slater replacing the tiring Dan Huntley. Huntley playing his first full game in three months following return from injury.  Despite a lot of Medway pressure as the clock wound down Thurrock held out and thwarted the home sides endeavour for a bonus point.  The match was played in a good spirit by both sides in what were very difficult conditions.

Coach Taff Gwilliam said ” Thurrock are well coached and tough side to play. We are pleased to have bounced back after last week’s defeat especially against such robust team like Thurrock”


Medway 30 Westcombe Park 31 (London 1 South) 14th December 2019

Medway entertained Kent rivals Westcombe Park at Priestfields on Saturday in this top of the table clash.  Medway were dealt a blow before the game even kicked off when Tight Head Prop Alex O’ Leary had to withdraw with an ankle injury. Ross Cooley switched to tight head. Young Jack Nickalls started his first full game. Dan Huntley who turned up to watch came onto the bench following a lengthy lay off.  With a strong breeze blowing straight down the pitch it was Medway who had first use but Westcombe Park came out the blocks quickest and led after just 5 minutes . Missed tackles in midfield saw them score a converted try.  Medway responded 9 minutes later when Bill Sandison and Christian Hechter combined to provide the ball for Max Bullock and Alfies Orris to  put Tom Beaumont away. Dan Harvey converted from the touchline and levelled the score at 7-7.  Two penalties from Dan Harvey on 17 and 24 minutes put Medway ahead 13-7. Westcombe Park responded with one of their own to narrow to gap. 13-10.  The next score of the first half came on 37 minutes and went to the home side. Having won a penalty Medway opted to kick for the corner and a well worked line out by Sandison, Easton and Huntley saw Bill Sandison score in the corner. Harvey landed the conversion to put the home side out to 20-10.  The last play of the half saw Harvey on target again from a penalty and the home side went into half time leading 23-10.

Westcombe Park came out of the blocks firing in the second half. With a strong wind at their backs they dominated field position. A breakdown penalty followed by an unconverted try out wide with 8 minutes got them back to 23-18.  Medway were on the back foot having lost both Mo Pangarker and Jordan Stubbington out of their back row to injury. Hooker Bill Humphrey was filling in at No 8.   On 53 minutes Westcombe Park won another penalty at the breakdown with Medway penalised for hands in the ruck. The kick was successful and the score was now 23-21.  On 58 minutes another infringement from the home side was punished and saw Westcombe Park take the lead 23-24.  Sam Garofalo came on James Dance at scrum half. Medway need to get control of the ball and keep it if they were to stay in the game and have a chance.  On 67 minutes they did just that. Following a series of phases and good line out driving from Medway they eventually won a penalty on Westcombe Park’s 5m line. Medway opted for the scrum and drove for the line. The Westcombe Park pack could not hold the drive and broke off. Medway stayed square and the referee went under the posts and awarding the penalty try. 30-24.  The last 10 minutes saw both sides battling for the victory and it was the visitors who prevailed. Sadly, with just 2 minutes remaining, inept tackling allowed Park to round the home defence and go under the posts. The conversion was successful and they completed a 30-31 victory.

Medway coach Taff Gwilliam said “ this was always going to be a tough game but injuries are no excuse for the defeat. We failed to do some of the defensive basics well enough and to Westcombe Park’s credit they took full advantage’’  he added “ we never gave up and to come back and score our last try in those conditions was excellent…we just failed to close it out”