Medway travelled to Canterbury for this re-arranged last league game of the season, and contributed to a hugely enjoyable match.
Playing down the slope with a slight wind behind them the visitors immediately went on the attack against the more experienced home side and could have taken an early lead but for some rash decisions. Against the run of play Medway conceded a penalty which
Canterbury kicked to the corner and after a period of outstanding defence from the resulting lineout, Canterbury’s flyhalf dummied his way over for a converted try 0-7.
Medway’s response was to score a well taken try from winger Jason Henderson after a well worked lineout and quick hands in midfield. Wardsynski converted, 7-7. The visitors were now in control and from a period of sustained pressure Henderson was sent clear after the pass of the match from Dean Avery, Wardzynski converted again, 14-7. With half time looming Medway’s strong defence let them down when Canterbury’s ageing full back just had the strength in his legs to amble over for an unconverted try, 14-12. Medway kicked off and after a fumble by the home side’s forwards retained possession through 5 phases, before Canterbury gave away a soft penalty 10 yards out Then the home side couldn’t get organised and Medway’s bulky fullback, Micky Hutton, used all his power to crash over for a converted try and a 21-12 half time score.
Playing down the slope the Canterbury’s forwards started to make inroads into Medway’s half and from that pressure their rotund scrum half, who was a constant threat, galloped through some soft tackles to score a converted try, 21-17. The home side were now playing their best rugby and when they were held up short of the line their no8 crashed over from the resulting scrum and another converted try, 21-24. But as they have done all season Medway’s youngsters responded with aggressive defence, and from turnover ball Jack Carlin went on a 50m swerving run to score a converted try, 28-24. As we enetered the final quarter the pace of the game began to have effects on the heavier Canterbury forwards, and as Medway were playing a great off loading game they were looking forward to the final whistle. However, when the visitors were unjustly penalised they turned away only for the home sides no9 to take a quick penalty and run as fast as his chubby legs would carry him the 60m to score a try in the corner, 28-29. With some choice words from their coach, Medway had to go looking for the next score, which they duly got, when Charlie Wardsynski chipped over the defence on his own 22, gathered the ball and out sprinted the Canterbury wing and full back to score the try of the match, 33-29. All Medway needed to do was to secure the kick off and see out the game but they knocked on and from the scrum the home side’s back row made huge gains into the 22. Medway tackled themselves to a standstill, and were seconds from a well deserved victory but from a last charge by the bulky Canterbury second row who was dumped short of the line, the referee deemed it correct that he was allowed to crawl forward and over the line for the winning try, the score going unconverted. The final whistle sounded and the home edged home 33-34.
This was a game that could and should have been won by Medway, but the fact it wasn't was a bitter pill to swallow for this hugely talented young squad. Their Development is forever evolving and their and Club’s future is looking bright. All the coaches, management and parents are very proud of their efforts throughout the season. WELL DONE GUYS it was a blast.
For some it was to be their first time. Others hadn’t seen action for some time [2 and half years but I’m not counting]. But over the Easter Bank Holiday weekend Medway’s Development Squad went on Tour to Scotland in the company of the Under 16s. Armed with their Pork Pie Hats, shades, braces, saxophones and a mixture of torn jeans, shorts and kilts they were to learn many things on their educational 'Highland Games Madness' journey of the North over four days.
For instance, 5am is a time to be waking up and not going to bed. Edinburgh is an awful long, long, long way in the confines of a coach where the microphone is controlled by Messrs Marriott, Kempt and Nolan. Porn films bought for a fiver in a newsagent are not “too good to be true”. Certain dour faced employees of the service industry should seek alternative employment, for instance as undertakers. It really is possible to blow an awful lot of money watching your mates getting whipped in a strip club. If it’s edible the Scots will cover it in batter and fry it. A Scottish definition of under 21 is not the same as in England and probably relates to weight rather than age. The phrase “lightly seasoned” is worth remembering if you are something of a pedant. It is possible to be awarded the accolade of ‘Tour Personality’ by muttering only two words throughout the tour – “Not Guilty”. The law of cumulative penalties applies to hostels as well as the rugby pitch. Scottish money is probably impregnated with sweat which makes it incredibly difficult to get rid of once you return south of the border. And you can only eat so much Burger King in one day no matter how much you might like it.
Additional to the tuition on offer there was also the compulsory sporting activity of Rugby which for the Development Squad meant cheering on the Under 16s for two mornings, taking in the Heineken Cup Quarter Final at Murrayfield, before themselves being unleashed on a Portobello Under 21 side. Despite Edinburgh and the Under 16s showing them the way with four wins out of four (soon to be five from five) it was a rather jaded looking Development Squad that arrived at Portobello’s mountain top, gale driven ground. This may have had something to do with the two days of hard ‘touring’ and no sleep in 48 hours, with the exception of Jet who had done nothing but, prior to their Sunday fixture.
Their mood wasn’t lifted as the Portobello players began to arrive. Most had the look of a first or second team player about them - Portobello’s First XV ply their trade in Scotland’s East Regional League Division One. However and to be fair to our hosts, their players had certainly played Under 21 rugby at some point in the last fifteen years and there was also a smattering of talented colts’ players to back that experience up – Tour cock-ups eh! Just what you need when your blood sugar content is running at 60% proof!
Mark Coveney, Dean Avery and David French Jnr led an impressive warm-up in the cross winds whilst ‘Alpatchino’ tried to unsettle the hosts by continually blowing cigar smoke in their direction. A quick return to the changing room where with regular coaches, the perma-tanned Essenhigh and the wordsmith Tasker, not touring it was down to ‘Alpatchino’ to deliver a team talk, Churchillian in both its content and delivery. Although to be fair, no one remembered Churchill using quite so many four lettered words or expletives when delivering his famous ‘fight them’ speech. With Pat’s words still ringing in their ears a plainly shocked but very much pumped Development Squad took to the field.
Medway kicked off with the gale and mountain tops behind them and settled early. An early ruck saw George Simpson steal impressively and shortly after, Portobello’s monster lock was stopped in his tracks by Richard Petch. However, with three minutes on the clock a couple of missed tackles in centre field on the giant host prop saw the ball spread to the young and impressive 9 foot tall full back who swallowed up the ground down the right touch line for the first try of the game which was converted well for a 0-7 lead.
Under pressure Charlie Wardzynski produced a great nudge in his own twenty two that took Medway up to the opposition ten. Back came Portobello and Medway’s young side found themselves defending their line like demons. A penalty was awarded against them but from the resulting scrum they managed to hold Portobello up. Another scrum saw the hosts attack the blind side but Medway bravely kept them out again. The next move saw Portobello go to ground but penalised for holding on and Medway cleared their lines. Back came Portobello again through their charging flanker but Tom Whitnell nailed him to thwart the move. Medway were very much on the back foot and more crunching tackles were needed and made to keep the score the same, first by Petch and then by Jordan Campbell. Then some respite as Wardzynski fooled his marker before taking off up the pitch. With James Avery in support he off loaded and good ground was made. After several phases of good play Portobello somehow stole the ball at a ruck and a clever chip over the top of a flat defence saw another try which went unconverted for a 0-12 lead to the hosts.
Before Medway could settle again Portobello put together a series of passes and although the final one looked forward they executed a well worked try down the right wing for another unconverted try and a 0-17 lead.
This young Development side never know when they’re beat and back they came again, for a long period camping themselves on the opposition’s try line. Micky Hutton went close first but was held short, and then Campbell went down the short side but was hustled into touch. Dominic French was next to be held short followed by a kick and chase from Hutton that was defended well and then a Wardzynski jink down the left wing also saw him bundled into touch. Despite the pressure a combination of their host’s game craft and their final decision making saw the score stay at 0-17. In centre field it seemed that Medway had lost possession but Jethro Masere somehow kept the ball alive and it was worked back to Wardzynski who broke down the blind side to gain valuable ground. He drew two defenders in and as the tackles were made off loaded to Simpson in support on his left who drove over for a try under the posts which Wardzynski converted for a 7-17 score at half-time.
The travelling support from the French, Wardzynski and Simpson families along with Jane and Mel welcomed the half-time arrival of the Club Chairman, Vice Chairman and a number of parents from the U16s and this combined to give the Development Squad a major lift for the second half. ‘Alpatchino’ convinced his charges that despite having the gale straight in their faces now, the opposition were tiring and there for the taking. What he hadn’t taken into account was the trusty boot of Portobello’s stand off which would ultimately decide the fate of this game. Nursing an injury, Masere made way for Lewis Marriott in the only change.
As in the first half Medway settled quickly and a Dean Avery break gained good ground before offloading to Petch who was well marshalled by the hosts. And then a try from nothing for Portobello as the ball was worked right to the wing but intercepted by the hosts and they scored again, taking the conversion as well and a 7-24 lead. The wind really had whipped up now and appeared stronger than in the first half and every time Medway threatened Portobello knew they only had to get the ball to that stand off to send the visitors back sixty metres. Despite this reality and the early set back Medway continued to pursue the game manfully. First a steal from the middle of a maul by Lewis Marriott saw good ground made. Then a driving run from Dean Avery saw the ball out to the giraffe like Pete Cole who made excellent ground down the wing before being bundled into touch. Another Dean Avery drive again saw good ground made before he moved the ball from right to left to brother James Avery who in turn shipped the ball out to the wing to James Winson who couldn’t quite take the ball under pressure. Another maul and another steal from Marriott who, despite being the smallest player on the pitch, drove forward with all his might before putting Wardzynski away. Portobello were under immense pressure and continual infringements at the ruck and maul saw the referee’s patience tried once too often and a yellow card was issued. From the resulting penalty Simpson worked the blind side and returned the earlier favour to put Wardzynski in for a try in the corner and a score of 12-24. The howling wind meant that the posts were not troubled from the conversion attempt.
The high intensity of the game was beginning to take its toll with David French Jnr needing regular running repairs from the side line. Coupled with some great territorial play from Portobello’s stand off Medway were on the back foot again as their experienced centres burst through the middle to register another try which was converted to take the score to 12-31. Back came the Development Squad again and with Simpson and Wardzynski working the ball left James Avery put his brother Dean Avery in for another Medway try and a score of 17-31. With everything to play for Medway rang the changes again with Winson coming off for Lee Byrne. The lads were urged on to one last great effort in the final 25 minutes. Wardzynski broke through the centres and then threw a mammoth pass out to the left wing which was caught by Byrne who found himself wrapped up by Portobello’s covering defence.
Then came a moment and only Hutton will know what was going on in his mind. Another booming clearance kick saw the ball on Medway’s 5 metre line. Hutton collected the ball and threw it to himself not seeing that the only players anywhere near him were all Scottish. Cripes thought Medway’s supporters as Portobello’s two massive centres hit the tiny Hutton T’Pau like. T’Pau like I here you say. Don’t you mean KAPPOW!! Well Hutton did break like china in my hands and either way the end result was that he crumpled before us like a crisp packet on a hot grill. Whitnell tried manfully to thwart the Scottish hordes but to no avail and the try was scored and converted for a 17-38 score. That was the last of the action for Whitnell who made way with Masere being sent back on.
Penned back by the conditions and Portobello’s stand off, defence was the order of the day for the remainder of the game. David and Dominic French teamed up for one last big hit on the hosts inside centre. Then Campbell got in on the act with another massive hit. Despite some great defensive team work Portobello worked it through the centres again for another converted try and a score of 17-45. Back on went Winson with David French now shot to pieces through the effort and the injury he carried into the game. Simpson was also nursing a sour arm but manfully played on through the pain. Defence turned to attack as Medway stole the ball and put Cole away but he was marshalled into touch. Then the ball went to the big Portobello full back and he broke tackles to perform the worst swallow dive under the posts you are likely to ever see. Probably nursing a couple of cracked ribs he returned to his own half as the conversion was made and the score edged to 17-52. Another fine attack by the Development Squad as Petch drove forward offloading to Wardzynski who fed James Avery who in turn found Dean Avery but the move was stopped 5 metres short with the attackers bundled into touch. The final action of the game saw Steve Lowery pinged for raking at the ruck. The referee asked him if he was raking, obviously not certain, and Lowery mysteriously replied “Yes”. This earned him the shortest yellow card of the season at 20 seconds and allowed Portobello to end the scoring with a quick tap penalty for another converted try and a final score of 17-59.
This was a great game and Portobello were fantastic hosts. They had some obvious first and second team experience but weaved in some young talent as well, particularly the full back and two wingers, all three being awesome. Some might say from the score that the fixture was something of a mismatch but it never was with Medway working fantastically hard to stay in the game and undoubtedly score the best tries. In the end it was Portobello’s experience of the conditions against a tiring Development Squad that saw the points difference extended. A great experience all the same for our young lads with First and Extra First XV aspirations next season. The whole team played with passion and continual effort driven on by Simpson and Wardzynski. Dean Avery showed why, even out of position, he will be an Extra’s player next season and others also laid down their credentials for inclusion in the Extras next season. Dave French Jnr played through the pain barrier and showed why he is such an important member of any squad, leading through example, whilst the pack as a unit deserve a collective mention for the sheer effort they put in throughout the game. However, the coaches’ man of the match was Jordan Campbell who was immense in the tackle and drove Medway on whenever possible. Captain’s choice went to Lewis Marriott whose introduction at half time made a big difference as he craftily stole ball regularly giving Medway a platform to build from. Well done lads.
And so it was that after taking their hosts hospitality the Development Squad left Portobello to return to Edinburgh Academicals where they found the Under 16s rejoicing having won their tournament with five wins from five. The Devs purchased enough pop and chocolate for all the U16s and then sportingly debagged them while they consumed and celebrated. At one point it resembled an Eton reunion for the Government. There was much celebration and singing, Prince Albert dropped in, and some strange photos that mysteriously appeared on Pat’s camera – that will need a deep clean now! The merriment continued into the evening with a Tour dinner, Pat’s rapid consumption of a dirty pint and Mark’s standing ovation, ovation, ovation, etc. And of course, Court! There was a final night’s clubbing after the dinner and although we’d like to tell you everything that happened that night – what goes on tour stays on tour! After much partying there followed the long trek back to Priestfields as we said goodbye to Scotland. There was just enough time for Steve Lowery to be named Development Squad Personality of the Tour.
This was a fantastic Tour with great company across two different but brilliant groups. Roll on Rome in 2013 (Oi! Centurion). It just remains to give a big thank you to all 60 plus participants from the Tour Management Committee of Duncan Bailey, Peter Rann, David French Snr, Mark Marriott, Geoff Kempt, and myself, Pat Nolan. It was a real pleasure. And remember... eee eee eee eee eee, eee eee eee eee eee eee eee.
Facing a robust and very proud Snowdown 1st XV was always going to be a tough ask for the Medway youngsters, especially with 10 regular squad members unavailable. Amongst these was the regular half back pairing and to make matters worse the replacement fly half was a very late cry off. So with a full back at fly half and a flanker at full back fluency was going to be hard to achieve.
From the kick off Snowdown broke the Medway defence and rushed forward and it was only stern defence that kept them out. With their big experienced forwards Snowdown were keen to make this a bruising forward battle and they were met by equally bruising defence which after the first 5 minutes began to neutralise the home side's efforts. So the game became very much an arm wrestle punctuated by some fine break outs by the Medway side who found themselves camped on the opposition line at one stage but just could not get over. The fierce contest was beginning to test the referee as the Medway lads stood up to the "in your face" Snowdown tactics. Just as everyone thought that the first half was going to end with neither side scoring an infringement at a breakdown saw Snowdown awarded a penalty and they quickly tapped and moved the ball wide to score an efficient try in the corner, which was unconverted. HT 5-0.
With the wind on their backs Medway were expected to gain a little more control. However poor skill execution at the crucial moment i.e. the last pass to put the winger away, saw them being forced back and having to defend their line desperately. Shortly after from a line out that went wrong loose defence saw the Snowdown prop crash over near the posts for a try which was converted. 12 -0.
Undettered Medway kept trying to play their game and with some astute kicks into the corners began to put their opponents under pressure. A very vigorous contact on the Snowdown line saw flanker Tom Brown punched on his "good side" and so Snowdown were rightly reduced to 14 men for 10 minutes. Medway took encouragement from this and from another maul on their opponents line their desire to push their opponents back saw Snowdown pressured into some sloppy play and when the ball fell loose over the line Dom French pounced on it for the try. 12-5. Now the momentum was with Medway and so you can imagine the frustration when from the kick off Medway dropped the ball and immediately found themselves on the back foot and defending desperately. No matter how hard they tried they just could not break the determined Snowdown line and the last 7 minutes was pure attritional rugby as Snowdown battered the Medway defence. It was almost inevitable after several last ditch tackle saves that the Snowdown fly half stepped through a gap 22 yards out for a concluding try under the posts which was converted to end the game. 19 -5.
In many ways coach Sunbed Essenhigh was pleased and proud of this performance, although a little more thought at critical times in the game would have made him happier and possibly the result different?
E. I. Addio - shivering in a cold Easterly in front of the grandstand.
Medway's Development Squad entertained Cranbrook 2’s at sunny Priestsfield’s on Saturday, and completed an emphatic 13 try victory. With the hard ground suiting the young home side, Cranbrook's task was always going to be difficult.
After only 5 minutes a slick handling move saw rangy winger Pete Cole score in the corner to give the home side a 5 – 0 lead. Two quick try’s were to follow as Jack Carlin showed his pace and power to score them both, converted by George Simpson, 19-0. Dean Avery was next on the score sheet when after another great run from Carlin he offloaded to the grateful Avery to touch down ,converted by Simpson, 26-0. The visitors were still pushing forward, but were penalised at a ruck on the Medway 10, and then quick thinking from Micky Hutton saw him a take tap penalty and sprint half the length of the field only to be tackled short of the line, but good support from Simpson saw him touch down, 31-0. Jason Henderson crashed over in the corner after a barn storming run, 36-0. The next try got the biggest cheer, as Big Alex Waterman used his superior fitness to out sprint Cranbrook's defence to score in the corner 41-0. With half time looming and the visitors looking shell shocked George Simpson kicked long and won the chase for the touch down and a half time score of 46-0.
With the game out of sight most teams would have surrendered but Cranbrook showed true grit and determination, and it was only strong defence from Dean Avery,Tom Brown and Ritchie Petch that stopped a certain score, Charlie Wardsynski dummied his way over to score in the corner 51-0. Then another fine break by Pete Cole saw James Avery touch down 56-0. Wardsynski then showed his true talent, when confined in the 5 metre channel and 30 metres out he eluded the cover defence and dummied the last 2 defenders to score, converted by Simpson, 63-0. Power by the forwards set up a quick ruck, from which James Avery gave the scoring pass to the rampaging Ryan Brimstead. Simpson converted 70-0. With time nearly up, the ball moved through 6 pairs of hands for athletic flanker to be Avery to touch down. Simpson rounded off his Man of the match performance with the conversion 77-0. Medway’s next game is away to Snowdown 1st which will be a major test.
Ess Your Never satisfied Coach.
The last few weeks have been very tough for Medway's young Development squad as they found themselves playing the 3 Senior sides in the League in successive weeks. The first and second games they lost by 2 and 3 points respectively and were annoyed that they had not managed to win either. With at least 6 first line players out and blooding some new squad members, today's game was always going to be a tough ask. However for 70 minutes of the game it was a ferocious contest. Unfortunately in the other 10 minutes they were taught some harsh lessons by a bigger, very experienced and robust Ash who took full advantage of the availability of their 4 Fijian Army players. One thing you do not do against these South Sea Islanders is give them room to play or miss first up tackles and the final scoreline tells the tale of the match.
Early in the game, from loose Medway play in midfield, a bizarre tap penalty left the Ash scrum half clear of all the players, including his own. Desperate defence kept him out but from the resulting scrum, which Medway lost, the big number 8 crashed over. Shortly afterwards the ex Canterbury fly half sliced through and put his fellow centre away for a try. 0 - 12. The signs were ominous and then the Medway youngsters dug in. With loose head prop Ritchie Petch having a fine game and clearly having the beating of his bigger opposite number Medway began to exert pressure and from a line out near the Ash line big lock Jordan Campbell crashed through the defence to score a well deserved try. 5 -12. More resilient play saw the Medway pack roll forward, release quick ball and the backs moved the ball right and wing Conor Chalmers calmly beat his opposite number for a well taken try. George Simpson slotted the conversion over from the touch line. 12 -12. With the contest well and truly on a kick ahead saw the Ash full back run through untouched by any Medway defenders for a very soft try which was converted. Not what the coach ordered! HT 12-19.
The 2nd half start was not what Medway needed with the Ash full back bursting clear only to be stopped by full back Mickey Hutton's fine tackle. Shortly afterwards another fine Ash counter attack saw the ball lost by Ash only for play to be allowed to be continued and the fly half hit a fine line to go near the posts for a clinical score. 12 -26. Straight from the kick off Ash moved the ball left and as centre Carlin was about to make the tackle his heels were accidentally clipped and that was the last they saw of the Ash attackers who ran the length of the field to score. 12 -33. The game was now getting away from the Medway lads and from 2 turn overs Ash extended their lead to 12 -45. What was very pleasing was the last 10 minutes as the Medway lads rallied and kept Ash in their own half and following some fine breaks by scrum half George Simpson did everything they could to get over the Ash line but just could not manage it.
So not the result they wanted but the spirit and application they showed was most encouraging against an opposition who readily admitted that they had been in a real contest. Man of the match was rightly awarded to debutant Jet Masere, who playing out of position on the flank, never stopped tackling and harassing the opposition.
E.I.Addio - your man with the knotted hankie and factor 30 on.
When you consider that the Medway lads outscored their opponents 4 tries to 3, won 95% of the line outs of which there were lots, played with total commitment and vigour and yet lost you might ask yourself how on earth did that happen? Well in a rugby match that is simply not enough if you are playing larger, more experienced opponents who know how to play on the very limit of a referees' patience.
From the start the East Kent side were very aggressive and determined to assert their physical authority in no uncertain terms and frustrated the Medway side's efforts to play a quick tempo game. However from a concerted forward drive a penalty was won and a quick tap saw the ball moved expertly along the backs to put wing Jason Henderson in the corner for an unconverted try. 0-5. Then rank indiscipline and back chatting saw Medway marched back and following concerted pressure by Deal a try was conceded under the posts. 7-5. Back came Medway and from a line out once again the ball was moved quickly left and Henderson thundered over again. On both occasions of him scoring an unpleasant brawl followed involving both packs and which the referee was slow to observe and intervene in and it was at this point that Medway's form and discipline seemed to disappear. What also did not help was the loss of Dean Avery who was seriously injured following an off the ball incident and one can only hope that the immediate diagnosis proves inaccurate both for him and the game of rugby.
Another stupid penalty was conceded and converted. 10 - 10. Then from a scrum Medway lost possession and a wild hack forward by Deal saw panic and indecision in the Medway defence and the Deal centre crashed over for a converted try. 17-10. This seemed to spur on the Medway team and playing at a higher tempo saw some concerted phases of play and they worked a large overlap to the right and scrum half Perry Simpson stepped inside the cover and fed flanker Ryan Brimstead for a try close to the posts, which Simpson converted. HT 17 -17.
Clearly the very direct talk from coach Essenhigh somehow did not get through and no matter how hard you try to forget the 2nd half you can't! Fly half Wardzynski conceded a soft penalty for offside in front of the posts - 20 -17. Then shortly afterwards another hit and hope kick ahead by Deal saw more dithering in defence and Deal broke away for an unconverted try. 25-17. The last 20 minutes was as fine a display of headless chickens by Medway as you could wish to witness. This saw the ball being taken into contact against bigger opponents and back moves bringing play in a similar direction. Opportunities to take line outs following penalties were spurned despite the Medway side's clear dominance in this aspect of the game and needless penalties were given away to an ever grateful Deal side who held on for a deserved victory despite a late try by Dom French.
It was a sorry team that faced their coaches after the game. What is not in doubt is their commitment, however they are at the time in their rugby careers that they have to show some understanding of tactics and game management - both individually and as a team.
Coach Dave Tasker - quiet, thoughtful exasperated and disappointed.
Aylesford were the visitors to Priestfields on Saturday in a top of the table clash. The windy weather put pay to this being an open spectacle, but both sides tried their best to play entertaining rugby.
Medway played with the slope and elements in their favour and immediately put their more experienced visitors under pressure with strong running from Dean Avery and Tom Brown. From a series of quick rucks Charlie Wardsynski passed inside to Alex Waterman to crash over from 10 metres 5–0. Aylesford then had a period of possession but due the conditions were unable to get out of their own half.
The home side then forced a turnover and after quick hands from the Avery brothers and Jordan Campbell, Jason Henderson scored a well taken try in the corner 10–0. Aylesford’s forwards were showing their young challengers how to control the clock by slowing the game down, they were well marshalled by their scrum half who made light work of the difficult conditions and kept the home side very busy.
With 10 minutes of the half remaining a great break by centre Jack Carlin set up a quick ruck on the Aylesford 22 and swift distribution by George Simpson saw bulky full back Micky Hutton held short before the marauding Tom Brown crashed over in the corner. Wardsynski converted from the touch line and a 1700 half time score.
With an even stronger wind behind them Aylesford started the 2nd half strongly pinning the home side in their own 22 from the kick off and after a series of strong drives the visitors No 8 smashed his way over. 17–5. The home side were well and truly on the back foot, and as hard as they tried could not gain any possession to trouble the Aylesford defence. From a well worked line out the visitors fly half jinked his way over for a converted try, 17–12.
With 25 minutes remaining Medway started to up the tempo, and showed great handling skills against the gale but just failed with the final pass. The winning try was scored by the Aylesford No 9, after strong defence by the home side they gave away a needless penalty, as they argued with the referee the scrum half tapped quickly and scored a converted try, 17–19.
Many young sides would have accepted defeat, but not Medway. They showed great team spirit as they drove deep into the Aylesford 22 whey they were awarded a scrum but the wise old heads in the visitors pack twisted the scrum, and any danger was avoided as their No 10 cleared beyond the halfway line. From the lineout Medway gained possession and drove their heavier opponents back nearly 15metres but this was pulled to ground, and with it went Medway’s last chance to secure a victory over a well drilled team. As the referee blew for full time the elation was clear to see from all the Aylesford players. Medway gained a losing bonus point and will learn from this narrow defeat as they continue to progress and develop under the guidance of their coaches, Ess and David.
Coaches Essenhigh and Tasker knew that this was going to be a stern task for their young squad - particularly as some of this year's crop have now been rightly promoted to the club's Extra's team. What with work commitments and injuries there were 8 missing from the start of the season side, which shows that Medway's bold initiative is working. So you can imagine their dismay at the side's poor pre match preparation which saw them having to be summoned out of the warmth of the changing room five minutes after the scheduled kick off time.
As to their opponents - their front row was the equivalent in weight of the Medway front five and the side was full of experienced and capable players. When they saw the referee for the first time - it was only his 25th game - they knew that here was an opportunity to slow the play and try to dictate the match. Well the referee - despite his relative youth - had an excellent game but he could not prevent the Medway boys from being suckered into an arm wrestle of a game which Juddians relished. As a consequence everything the Medway boys had practised was forgotten and shape, structure and composure in possession went out of the window . The only surprising aspect was the scrum where the young men proved themselves more than a match for the veteran Juddians front row and consistently shifted them backwards and sideways. Coach Essenhigh beamed!!
The first half consisted of a lot of huffing and puffing and little running rugby until Juddians made a fine break up the left flank and with good support play the number 12 scored a good try which was converted. 0-7. More pressure saw Medway's fine scramble defence and so when they won a penalty Juddians took the kick. 0-10. At this point Medway lost scrum half George Simpson to a painful thumb injury and so reshuffled the backs with utility player - Micky Hutton - moving up from full back. Then out of the mess came an inspirational run by lock Jordan Campbell who made a bullocking run from his own half. From a resultant scrum the right call was made as Charlie Wardzynski brought centre Jack Carlin back towards the posts on a scything run to score a simple well executed try. 7-10. This was quickly followed by more constructive team play which saw Medway camped on the Juddians line for the last 5 minutes of the half but poor control and composure meant that they did not add to their score as they should have. HT 7-10.
With some fairly tasty words from the coaches ringing in their ears (Q: is he allowed to do that to me in front of my Mum?) Medway made a poor start and it wasn't long before the wily and skilful Juddians fly half put in an inch perfect grubber kick to the corner for their centre to score once again. Where the Medway defenders were nobody knows. 7-15. Fired up by their own disappointment Medway became more physical and disrespectful to their opponents and from a quick tap penalty Micky Hutton used his weight [weight?] to crash over from close in. 12-15. Still Medway could not get into a rhythm and from the restart conceded a penalty which was converted. 12-18. With Hutton now adapting to his new position better the ball began to move quickly away from the collision zone and large forwards and the tempo of Medway's game went up by a factor of 2. Lock Jordan Campbell used his considerable bulk and desire to crash through several defenders for a try near the posts and Medway were in front for the first time. 19-18. The next 10 minutes were critical as Juddians did everything they know (and that is a lot) to regain control of the game and pressed hard. Again the Medway boys defended bravely and then suddenly their game clicked and their speed and skill began to reach the right level. Centre Jack Carlin scored a good try. 26-18. With players running at space and letting the ball go a yard earlier they began to carve big holes in the opposition defence and their support play was excellent. Dominic French scored, quickly followed by Conor Chalmers and finally James Avery, all converted. Final score 47-18.
A hard fought win against tough opponents and hopefully a few lessons learnt? The fact that this game took place at all was testimony to Medway's excellent ground staff and the effort they put in although Juddians expressed dismay at playing the Development Squad on another hardish pitch when their style of play is best suited to the more traditional rugby playing conditions that are rain and mud.
E.I. Addio - your man at the Borstal end with 6 layers of clothing on and still shivering.
Medway travelled to Thanet on Saturday looking to complete a league double over the hosts who were overwhelmed earlier in the season. The early part of the game was a scrappy affair as both teams tried to get the upper hand, but from a period of Thanet pressure the visitors made the most of turnover ball, and from quick hands in midfield from Jack Carlin and Micky Hutton rangy winger Pete Cole rounded the defending winger to score a well taken converted try 7-0. The rest of the half was best forgotten as Medway gave away a stream of needless penalties as they lost the structure that had made them such an accomplished team. After another penalty the Thanet no 10 kicked to within 5m of the visitors line and from the resulting lineout the no10 broke blind and crashed over for a well taken try 7–5 at ht.
After some choice words by coach Paul Essenhigh Medway came out in the second half with more passion and immediately played at a higher tempo which Thanet were unable to compete with. From a quick tap penalty by George Simpson, Pete Cole sprinted clear of the defence to score his second try 12-5. Thanet were now looking a beaten side and direct from the kick off a well taken catch a drive upfield by skipper Mark Coveney sent Jack Carlin sprinting 50m to score under the posts, 19–5. More pressure on the Thanet lineout saw a bad tap touched down by Charlie Wardsynski 26-5. The next 30mins was a non contest as the younger fitter Medway squad ran in a further 4 tries from Pete Cole (2) Jason Henderson and Mick Hutton to complete another high scoring victory 48–5.
There is one thing that you cannot take away from this group of young men - that is there willingness to take fair criticism on the chin and then respond by putting in their hardest and most intense shift of weekly training all season. The lesson they learnt today was if they continue with this mindset they will get the rewards they deserve and their rugby skills and application will continue to improve.
Admittedly the first 5 minutes of this encounter were not great. The Medway side were over eager to prove themselves and 3 penalties in as many minutes for offside and some sloppy tackling gave their opponents every encouragement. However once they settled and played the game with more patience and composure then there was only going to be one result. A turnover in open play saw Medway counter attack from their own half and earn a penalty - which was kicked to the corner. Skipper Coveney - showing a more pragmatic approach to his throwing in hit his jumper, the pack organised quickly and in a measured way drove their more experienced opponents over their own line for a try that had coach Essenhigh purring. The scorer was Dom French who was clearly motivated by his new "try bonus contract". 5-0.
Medway then began to show delighted watching family members how team rugby is played with as good a try as they have scored all season. Forwards and backs running hard into space, when tackled calmly recycling the ball and using the full width of the field. After the 8th phase James Avery easily finished the move on the overlap and fly half Charlie Wardzynski converted. 12-0.
Returning to the side this week from a highly successful run on debut last week in the Extras was flanker Dean Avery and he was outstanding. He has worked very hard at his handling skills and his ability to link the forwards and the backs was a joy to watch. Breaking away down the narrow side he calmly put Tom Brown in for a score, which was also converted. 19-0. By now Medway's pace and intensity in all aspects of the game was proving too much for their doughty opponents and this coupled with Medway's willingness to let the ball do the work was making for some sparkling rugby. Another sequence of phased play eventually saw the ball moved to the left wing where 6ft 6 inch wing Pete Cole handed his opponent off (his arms are 5ft long) and scored in the corner. 24-0.
By this time even scrum half George "Perry" Simpson appeared to be enjoying himself as he provided a constant stream of quick possession to the backs. Shortly afterwards centre jack Carlin scored in the left corner after turnover ball and quick hands. HT 29-0. At this point assistant coach, Dave Tasker, left the ground to attend a prior engagement safe in the knowledge that the game was in the bag. Unfortunately the 2nd half saw a marked deterioration in the team and individual performance as it was littered with unforced errors, bad lineouts and decisions. When Medway executed the basics well then the tries followed. James Avery added a try after a fine dummy by Charlie Wardzynski. 36-0. The game then became a poor shadow of the first half with consistent penalties against Medway and dropped passes by both teams. James Avery completed his hatrick after another slight of hands by Charlie Wardzynski - 41 0. Coach Essenhigh then brought on his strike weapons - Markham, Waterman and Smith. Markham made an immediate impact as he crashed up the middle swatting off defenders to score near the posts. 48-0.
The quality of play was now of a slow tempo as Maidstone bravely tried in vain to add a score but it was Medway who rounded off a fine victory when Ryan Brimstead rolled off a maul and just had the strength and reach to touch down 55-0. Medway have no game next week, but will need to improve their game management and skill levels with much tougher games to come.
ESS “A Frustrated But Happy and beautifully tanned [Ed: is it not creosote?] Coach”
With excellent conditions for playing open and fast rugby, coupled with 2 excellent mid week training sessions, the portents for a good performance from this group of talented players were strong. However at the end of this match there was little doubt that the outstanding performance of the day came from a truly excellent referring performance by Mr Gary Payne.
This is not to dismiss the Ashford team's effort. This was a typical Ashford team, full of size, aggression, experience and guile and no little skill, although even they expressed surprise after the match about how the match developed.
Playing up the slope into the wind the Medway side took the game to their opponents with fine driving play, good positional play and continuous phases of possession. As a result most of the play for the first 15 minutes was in the Ashford 22 and only a combination of desperate defence and poor options from the Medway lads kept the game scoreless. Medway had one try disallowed rightly for offside and several times their attackers were bundled out of play in the corners. It was then that their patience and composure waned and individuals began to overplay and not let the ball do the work. Ashford kept their nerve and began to play more of the game in the Medway half. Indeed they spent the last 15 minutes camped in the Medway 22 and it was only desperate and committed defence that kept them out. Fine tackles by Dom French and Jordan Campbell typified this effort. So half time found the game scoreless.
Playing now with the wind on their backs there was every reason to expect Medway to take control but no. Clear thinking was absent, poor execution (line outs were especially poor) and weak skill levels meant that they found themselves well and truly in the arm wrestle that Ashford wanted. This did not make for good rugby! After several botched attempts at running rugby they eventually moved the ball left and number 8 - Jason Henderson - crashed over for a try. 5-0. Directly from the restart Ashford gathered the ball unchallenged, made good ground and won a penalty in front of the posts - which they converted. 5-3. Then Medway lost one of their strike players - wing James Chapman - to a dislocated shoulder, which was a serious disappointment. However Medway continued to exert some pressure on the Ashford line and as one of the Ashford players tried to clear his lines whilst under severe pressure the ball was lost. Substitute wing Mickey Hutton pounced and did well to score in the corner. Fly half Charlie Swardzynski converted from the touchline. 12-3. Anyone expecting Medway to finish in style was disappointed and the game continued in the broken, erratic way as before and no further scores ever seemed likely.
As for coach Paul Essenhigh's view - lets just say he was emitting more steam than Kingsnorth power station for most of the match as his annoyance at his charges serious under performance increased throughout the afternoon. Training during the week could be very interesting!!
Dave "what the hell were they thinking about then?" Tasker.
On a bleak Sunday afternoon at Priestfields, Medway entertained Dartfordians in the National Colts Competition. In a fairly low scoring game both teams gave committed performances, and the result was in the balance until the final whistle.
Dartfordians kicked off with the elements in their favour, and with good set piece possession, gave their fly half the opportunity to put in long cross field kicks which kept the home team on the back foot. The early collisions were memorable, as both sets of forwards tried to gain the upper hand. Medway began to struggle in the scrums against the bigger visiting pack, but were more than a match in the loose, where U17’s Adam Barnett and Toby Gerdes-Hansen showed their obvious talent. With the visitors second row dominating the line outs, it was from a well rehearsed move that they scored the first points of the game in the 28th minute when their lively flanker crashed up the middle avoiding last ditch tackles to score a well deserved converted try. 0–7.
The home side continued to press up the slope against the wind with some well executed handling movements only for them to be thwarted by good scrambling defence by the visitors. Medway were now on the front foot but continued to give away needless possession which resulted in the Dart’s fly-half sending them back 50 metres with some powerful kicking, and it was from a clearance kick that Medway failed to win their own lineout the visitors moved the ball quickly into midfield only for the home defence to be caught offside which gave the visitors an easy 3 points, to end the half 10–0 up.
The half time team talk was to gain early possession, and put pressure on the visitors defence, but it must have got lost in translation as Dart’s left winger caught the kick off and went on a 40 metre run only to be dragged down short of the line. Medway’s defence was outstanding as they defended for their lives, only to be penalised for going off their feet. Dart’s opted for a scrum, but their no 8 was upended as he picked up from the base which resulted in a vital turnover for the home side which Charlie Wardsynski sent into touch 30 metres out. Both teams then had large amounts of pressure but were unable to add to the scoring, the home side thought their full back had scored under the post, but was judged harshly by the referee to have made a double movement. From the resulting penalty Dart’s failed to find touch and Medway launched a smart counter attack through the strong running Markham, Whitnell and the young Gerdes-Hansen, when the ball went wide, the U17’s winger Sean Crittenden made some hard yards before being tackled into touch. With the clock nearing 75 minutes, the home side’s last attack resulted in a turnover, which Dartfordians smartly moved wide for their fleet footed right winger to score a stunning try in the corner, 0–15. Medway just had time for the restart, which was caught by the visitors and sent into the gloomy sky, as the final whistle sounded the jubilant visitors celebrated a well earned and hard fought victory.
As the young Medway side left the field, they knew that they had given their all, but on this occasion had lost to a well organised and better prepared team. Well done to Dartfordians and good luck in the next round.
"Gone with the Wind"
Canterbury were the guests at windy Priestfields on Saturday in a second versus third encounter. Medway kicked off with the gusty wind behind them, but the ball failed to travel 10 metres, so the visitors had the first scrum of the match on half way. This proved to be their undoing as they were shoved straight off the ball allowing no8 Jason Henderson to pick up and gallop deep into Canterbury’s half, after good recycling by the forwards and slick handling by the back’s debutant winger Robbie Ellis scored a converted try under the posts, 7–0 .
The young home side then tried to up the tempo, but were restricted by some wise old heads that had been specifically selected to ensure that Medway were unable to play their normal fluid game. The wind was beginning to have a big influence on the match as Canterbury’s hooker was penalised for crooked throws in the lineout which gave Medway back easy possession to clear their lines, which Charlie Wardsynski achieved with some towering kicks. It was from a fumbled kick by the visitors winger that Medway had their best spell of the game as wave after wave of strong running from Henderson, and the ever improving Dean Avery, opened up space for Tom Markham and Jack Carlin to exploit. A cynical penalty by the Canterbury no8 gave Wardsynski the chance to extend Medway's lead, 10–0.
Unforced errors by both teams made the next part of the game very fragmented as neither side had any sustained possession. Strong tackling in midfield by Carlin and James Avery forced the Canterbury centre to handle on the ground which gave Wardsynski a penalty that he put into touch 10 metres from the visitors line. Medway were now on the front foot, but with strong defence from the visitors pack were thwarted time and again as they challenged the line only to come away with another Wardsynski penalty 13–0.
With the clock running down Canterbury showed their off loading game to give them a strong field position, an infringement by a Medway forward gave their fly half an easy 3 points, HT 13–3.
As the second half kicked off it was immediately apparent that the more experienced visitors were going to use the increasingly gusty wind to their advantage, as any mistake by the home side was punished with measured kicking by their backs. The advantage Medway had in the scrums was gradually nullified by the visitors as their heavier more experienced pack took control to give the backs a solid platform.The Canterbury no8 was beginning to find huge gaps in the home defence to set up a try for their young centre, 13-8. As the wind increased so did the visitors pressure and from a Medway scrum deep in their 22 the ball was uncontrolled which allowed the Canterbury no9 to pick up and score a converted try, 13–15.
Skipper Mark Coveney asked for more composure on the ball but the home side were unable to gain enough possession, and from another barn storming run the visitor's no8 scored a well deserved try, which was converted, 13-22. The young Medway side continued to try, but all their efforts were in vain as Canterbury showed their experience in denying them any good possession. The last score of the match came from the visitor's prop who crashed over after another unforced error by the homeside. 13–27 final score.
A game of two contrasting half’s that proved, as you get older you get wiser, the young Development Squad were dually disappointed but will be encouraged by their first half’s performance, and they know that on their day they are a match for any team in the league.
This was undoubtedly the best performance of the season from these young Medway lads. Faced with a robust, experienced and very determined Ash team, who were bolstered by their 2 Fijian centres, this was always going to be a hard test of the Development lads ability to play patient, disciplined rugby and to their credit for most of the game they controlled it.
They started briskly and having forced a scrum in the Ash 22 they caught their opponents unawares when number 8 Jason Henderson shot away from the base to score under the posts. Charlie Wardzynski converted. 0-7. Shortly afterwards the forwards created good possession and the ball was moved at speed along the line for left wing James Chapman to score in the right hand corner for a pleasing try. 0-12. Ash then began to settle into their game, much of which revolved around using their Fijian centres to break the gain line and whilst they did trouble the Medway team they never actually broke clear and numerous attempts to play fluent rugby were thwarted by determined defence from Medway. Medway did however concede 2 harsh penalty decisions which were converted in fine style and then foolishly gave away a penalty for offside. HT 9-12.
With their self belief bolstered by coach Essenhigh's words of half time encouragement they started the second half in brisk manner. Despite losing wing Chapman and prop Petch to injury at half time they now played fluent, fast hard running rugby which their opponents found hard to handle as they were now on the back foot. Ash first conceded a penalty which Wardzynski converted and then from another infringement Henderson took a quick tap and crashed over for a try that was converted. 9-22. From the kick off Medway again moved the ball across and then up the field to good effect and centre James Clarke scored in the corner. Wardzynski converted immaculately from the touch line. 9-29. Ash renewed their efforts in typically robust style but could not breach the Medway defence which now began to match the Ash intensity and some genuine big hits were making themselves felt. A combination of this physical intensity, coupled with frustration saw the game boil over into a few unsavoury incidents - although the Medway youngsters refused to give ground. Man of the Match Dean Avery found himself a spectator for 10 minutes with the Ash prop as a consequence of one such incident.
As the game came to a close Medway showed good game management and kept their opponents pinned back and from a chase won a penalty which was converted. 9-32. The Medway spirit was best summed up when with 2 minutes to go on the clock vertically challenged winger Mickey Hutton made a poor clearance kick. Rather than moan he chased it and with a text book tackle dislodged the ball from one of the biggest Ash players on the field.
Coach Essenhigh said it all at the end when in his post match debrief he said " I am proud of everyone of you".
Dave Tasker - an equally proud Development team coach.
The old cliche of a game of two halves gets used too much these days - however this is one game for which it could have been made.
The Medway youngsters were facing more experienced and heavier opponents and yet played their best rugby of the season in the first half. The half time scoreline of 52-0 gives you some idea of their scoring prowess but no idea of the clinical, skilful and fast paced rugby they played. Every player was in motion and running hard and unselfishly passing the ball to his team mates and their opponents just could not handle it.
Within the first two minutes Deal drove the ball forward and suddenly found themselves propelled backwards as lock Jordan took three of their players towards their own line and forced a turnover. Quick hands along the back line and wing James Chapman zipped into the corner for a score. Charlie Wardzynski kicked his first conversion. 7-0. Then from a scrum turnover, flanker Dominic French raced away for another converted try. 14-0. It was then that Deal's desperation made them adopt the tactic of kicking deep. The bad news for them was that the Medway back three of Micky Hutton, Chapman and Tom Markham were running fast and hard and more importantly linking with their team mates. One such run back ended in skipper Mark Coveney bustling over for a try and then from the restart the ball went through several pairs of hands and full back Markham brushed aside the defence for another converted try. 26-0. From the next clearance Wardzynski made a fine break, passed to supporting lock Jordan Campbell who made a fine catch and passed the ball onto centre James Avery. 33-0.
There were three more tries before half time, the first when wing Chapman finished a fine back move in typical fine style (which made up for his earlier miss when he dropped the ball over the line when unopposed), flanker Jason Henderson made a typical swashbuckling run and then his fellow flanker French scored another try. Half time 52-0.
Well the second half could not have been different. Deal decided to stop kicking possession away and keep it closer to the pack and the referee became far more involved in the play. This resulted in a very stop start second half where neither side gained any fluency. Indeed Deal scored a try first from a move close to Medway's line when they broke blind from a scrum and their winger scored in the corner and this was followed by a fine touchline conversion.
Whatever they tried Medway could not get going and so began to try too hard as individuals to score and the unselfish play of the first half escaped them. They found themselves under sustained pressure. However these young men are very proud and still smarting from conceding a try defended like demons - no more so than from a five yard tap penalty when the Deal lock, at full pace, found his forward motion completely stopped in a nano second by Alex Waterman - the ball was turned over and the Deal lock was rather slow to regain his feet. Towards the end Medway got back a bit of rhythm and scored a try from a quick break and Avery scored his second try. Full time 59-7.
Medway coach, a greying Paul Essenhigh, was grateful for the win and yet thinks his young squad are capable of more. There is pressure for places as Lewis Marriott, Greg Woodward, Liam Noble, James Winson and Harry Hickman all put in strong performances again for the 'A' XV with a very proud Hickman scoring his debut try for Medway after some superb support running alongside 'A' XV Captain Simon Thomas. With the Academy players due back in January and the Under 17s now introduced these are great times for Medway's Development Squad and it will be interesting to see whether they keep improving.
E.I. Addio - your man in the Borstal Grandstand.
You could have been forgiven for misunderstanding coach Paul Essenhigh's disappointed expression at the end of this game. He was actually very upset by Arsenal beating Chelsea.
As for his Development Squad he had nothing but high praise as they were faced by a very experienced, bigger, streetwise and very robust outfit who had a smattering of young players. The Medway side by contrast was a team of players aged between 27 and 22 and due to injuries the 2 players on the wing should have been playing in the back row - so to come back from 22-0 down at half time and win the second half was a great credit to them.
From the start the Aylesford pack drove hard into the Medway team and when faced with constant determined resistance which denied any scoring chances they took the drop goal. With the wind at their backs the Aylesford team played a fine territorial game and pinned back the Medway lads in their own 22 for long periods. Inevitably the forward pressure told and led to 2 good tries. 15-0. So it was a pity that Medway conceded one final try before half time when a clearance kick that should have gone into touch failed to do so and Aylesford effectively ran the ball back from 35 yards out and scored in the corner. 22-0.
With words of encouragement ringing in their ears the Medway lads continued to tackle hard and compete fiercely at the breakdown and did well not to react to any provocation. Slowly but surely they began to get better possession and more refereeing decisions in their favour. The less they tried the better their play became and skipper Mark Coveney began to hit his line out jumpers - something that had not been going to plan before. From a free kick young fly half Charlie Wardzynski hoisted a fine "up and under" and from the ensuing confusion hacked the ball ahead and scored by the posts. 22-5. Suddenly shape and structure came into the Medway play and flanker Dean Avery moved the ball wide to flanker/winger for the day James Winstone who beat his opposite number and fed the ball back to Avery who raced clear for a fine try. 22-10. Then Aylesford replied with a fine counter attack, which disappointingly from a Medway viewpoint came when one of their players fly hacked a loose ball to the opposition backs. 29-12. However if Aylesford had any doubts that these young men were going to be a push over they were rapidly disappearing and when from a fine line out and controlled drive prop Alex Waterman raced over from 10cm there was genuine concern in the opposition ranks. 29-17.
So it was rather a pity that Medway just could not find that extra score as the Aylesford team sought to close the game up and it was almost inevitable when the Aylesford 1st XV centre, on his return from injury, carved through the tiring back line, which by now consisted of 4 back row players and 2 backs playing out of position, for the final try. 36-17.
This was a match that the Medway lads learnt a lot from. Their commitment and bravery is not in doubt and when they marry this consistently with more conviction and composure they will begin to fulfil their real potential.
E.I. Addio - your man in the shadow of the M20 enjoying the chirruping of the 40 tonners.
"What a difference a week makes". Medway's Development squad travelled to take on the heavy weights of Tonbridge Juddians on Saturday and were made to work hard for their victory.
Medway got off to a great start when after good hands from the backs, Jamie Chapman bamboozled his opposite number to score an unconverted try 5- 0. Medway then decided to lose concentration and conceded a soft unconverted try, 5–5. The next 20 minutes was littered with unforced errors from both teams, and it was from a knock on by the host’s, that Medway quickly spun the ball wide for winger Pete Cole to score an unconverted try 5-10. It was Medways turn to feel the pain when they knocked on straight into the hands of a retreating forward, the referee had no alternative but to award a penalty, which was slotted from in front of the posts, 8-10. The game was also becoming a verbal battle, and after Dean Avery and the Juddian’s prop had a girlie chat the referee gave them 10 minutes on the naughty step. With both teams reduced to 14 men, space began to appear which the host’s right winger made use of to score near the post’s 13–10, and that was half time. Coach Paul Essenhigh questioned the endeavour of some of his players and also where the pace, power and overwhelming ability that had been shown in recent weeks had disappeared to? He insisted that every player upped their contribution to avoid an unexpected defeat.
With both teams now back to their full contingent the opening exchanges were more intense, but yet again Medway lost concentration and failed to deal with a random high ball, and it bounced straight into the hands of the grateful Juddians centre who touched down under the posts to give an easy conversion, 20–10. After some choice words by coach Essenhigh, Medway responded with another well taken try by Pete Cole, which was converted by Charlie Wardsynski 20–17. With the clock approaching 60 minutes Medway started to run into the open spaces and were starting to cause the home defence plenty of problems, but when they were penalised for going off their feet the Juddians kicker calmly slotted 3 points, 23–17.
Coach Essenhigh then had to remind his players that to win this encounter they needed to up the tempo, run straight and hard, which would open up the defence for them to take advantage of the tiring home side. This was to prove the turning point of the afternoon as Medway scored 29 unanswered points with the first of these coming from Dean Avery as he managed to avoid at least 5 defenders and had enough pace to score in the corner to the joy of yummy mummy Karen. The try went unconverted 23–22. Straight from the kick off Medway attacked the heart of the home defence, and with fly-half Charlie Wardsynski now showing his running skills, Micky Hutton barged his way over for a well deserved try, converted 23–29. There was a sense of relief from the travelling supporters as Jason Henderson increased the lead with a well taken try, 23-34. The home side were now counting down the minutes as Medway's forwards off loaded with ease to make huge dents in the home sides defence, a desperate tackle by the Juddians full back haulted Micky Hutton on the 22, but with quick ruck ball supplied expertly by stand in scrum half Jordan Campbell, it gave Charlie Wardsynski time to but in a pin point cross kick for the galloping Jason Henderson to score his second try, 23–39. Coach Essenhigh then introduced debutant Liam Noble, and Harrison Irons who got involved straight from the kick off when he caught the high kick to set up another rampaging run from skipper Mark “the biscuit” Coveney who was swatting away defenders like flys. After great interplay from all the forwards the attack was stopped just short of the line, but quick ruck ball gave James 'Bok' Clarke a walk over for the final try converted by Charlie Wardsynski to give the young Medway Squad an overwhelming 46–23 victory.
There will be bigger challenges ahead for this team, but having played 5 and won 5 they are developing nicely.
On a glorious sunny day at Priestfields and in front of some of Medway's legends and elder statesmen (Messrs Saxby, Watts and Dance) the Development Squad dispatched their opponents in some style. Their spirited, heavier and more experienced opponents did not once give in trying but from the outset found the Medway youngsters far too quick, committed and intense in their effort. Whilst this was not a searching test for the Medway lads they are now beginning to show signs of increasing maturity as they show far more discipline and game awareness - which was the last thing the Thanet side wanted.
Every time they had the ball Thanet found themselves hounded by the Medway players and having won a scrum 5 yards from their own line they found themselves pressured into losing the ball and flanker Dean Avery pounced to score. Fly half Charlie Wardzynski then kicked one of his 10 conversions. Thanet struck back and earned a penalty kick. They knew it wasn't their afternoon when the ball struck the post, bounced and evaded their chasing winger and Medway cleared. Shortly after, Avery ran hard and set up a ruck and the ball was quickly transferred across the field for winger Bourne to trot over for a try. What was pleasing for coach Essenhigh was that there was real structure and composure to the Medway play and when they did not have the ball they worked very hard to get it back. Their relentless effort saw resulting tries for Markham and James Avery, followed quickly by a fine break for a try by Wardzynski. 29-0. Dean Avery crashed over from close to the try line and then the try of the match. Straight from the restart the Medway forwards took the ball forward, debutant scrum half George Simpson moved the ball away and the backs in a fine example of straight running and passing put winger Henderson away for the first of his 3 tries. HT - 43-0.
Coach Essenhigh is a hard taskmaster and asked his team to show the same level of intensity in the 2nd half and not to concede any points. Apart from one break out which saw the Thanet winger denied the chance of scoring by a strange refereeing decision it was all Medway. Wardzynski showed good maturity by not getting carried away and relentlessly pushed the weary Thanet side pack back with punishing kicks. This resulted in tries for Brimstead, Henderson, Markham (3) and James Winson. The Avery household in particular had every reason to be proud with Dad watching as he saw his 2 sons score a try each in the 2nd half and making their joint total for the day 5.
A good result but not one to get carried away with. If these young men continue to apply themselves then they can get better - well that was the considered opinion of those Medway elder statesmen as they continued their discussion after the match at the clubhouse bar.
The young Medway squad entertained Sevenoaks at Priestfields on Saturday and came out emphatic winners 61-3.
Sevenoaks arrived with a mixture of young bucks and old stags and took the game to Medway from the start. The visitors number 10 used the breeze well and continued to pin the host's back in their own half and it was from one of these foray's that Medway infringed and he calmly slotted the penalty, 0-3. This was to be the moment that Medway took complete control, the pace and the power of both forwards and backs could not be subdued, and it was from a quickly taken penalty that prop Richy Petch crashed over, which Charlie Wardzynski converted 7-3.
The game became a bit fragmented with both teams giving away penalties, and from a missed touch kick by Sevenoaks, George Simpson started a counter attack from his own 22 which culminated in a splendid try by Jamie Chapman who mesmerised three defenders before scoring under the posts, Wardzynski converting 14-3. Medway were now dominating every facet of the game and running the ball from all parts of the pitch, two tries came in quick succession as both Wardzynski and Tom Markham brushed aside desperate defenders as their pace took them over for Medway's fourth and fifth tries, 1 of which was converted, 26-3.
The hard hits and the pace of the game was beginning to tell on the visitors as they lost a player to injury, with no replacements available Medway were looking to make the extra man count, and they did so almost immediately as after a series of quick rucks and fine handling, Petch went over for his second try which Wardzynski converted 33-3.
Sevenoaks then suffered another injury and that was to be the end of any real contest as the game became a training session for the home side. Both James Avery and Wardzynski ghosted over for tries as Wardzynski converted them both and the score was 47-3. Never satisfied coach Paul Essenhigh challenged his players to improve the quality in the second half, and they did not let him down as they gained possession from the kick off and after a movement involving seven players Jamie Chapman swerved past his opposite number, but was halted by the full back. Medway's forwards recycled quick ball which gave Wardzynski the chance to register his hat-trick which he duly accepted and with the conversion added Medway were now passed the 50 point mark at 54-3.
The Sevenoaks coach was now on the field dealing with another injury, and as he helped the player off the visitors were restricted to 12 players, and with 25 minutes still to play the referee decided that the next Medway score would bring the game to a premature conclusion. This was to come after some more magnificent handling from the whole team, as the ball was recycled near the visitors line James "Springbok" Clarke crashed over for his debut try, Wardzynski converted to take his match haul to 31 points and the game ended 61-3 to the young Medway Squad who at the moment look quite comfortable in this higher league.
When Medway's young development squad arrived at the "high veldt" of Maidstone's training pitch they were faced by a team with considerable bulk and years. So this display was a demonstration of how they are learning to play as a team in a way that gives them the best chance of beating the opposition on the day. Not wanting to get into a battle up front they consistently moved the ball across the pitch probing for gaps in the Maidstone defence and most importantly, being patient and not forcing the pass.
Indeed it took nearly 20 minutes before the first score when debutant scrum half - Mickey Hutton - looked to pass at least 3 times on a blind side move and the defence fell off him and he went in the corner. The score was superbly converted from the touchline by Charlie Wardzynski, 0-7. Medway's youngsters stuck to the game plan and with the backs moving the ball quickly and efficiently their opponents were under pressure. It told as from a scrum Wardzynski kicked ahead and regathered to score, converting to take the score to 0 -14. Then a little indiscipline and being too clever came into play and Medway had a spell of 5 minutes desperate defending on their line which resulted in centre John Rumsey being rightly sin binned and the alarming sight of prop Big Al (Alex Waterman) intercepting the ball near his line and breaking clear with 90 yards to go. Never was a player so relieved to be called back by the referee!
The second half began with the bizarre spectacle of Maidstone asking the referee for uncontested scrums as they had no front row players (even though there former 1st team prop was in the second row) and being granted this concession. What this meant was that Medway's youngsters were thrown off their pattern as the game became for a short while more akin to a trial match - but without the intensity. However after a few sharp words from coach Paul Essenhigh they got back into focus and driving forward play, following a fine back's raid, saw veteran flanker Dean Avery crash over near the posts. 0-21. Maidstone now had an air of desperation and they launched a series of attacks on the Medway line and magnificent defence kept them out and then the inevitable happened - they threw out in desperation a loose pass and wing Jiggsy (James Chapman) intercepted and ran 80 yards for a try, 0-28. The game was over as a contest but Medway kept to the plan and fine interplay between the backs and forwards eventually resulted in prop - Big Al - crashing over. There is no doubt that if you are 10mm from the line he is deadly. Finally more pressure saw PG score by the posts for a final score of 0-47. Somewhere in all the excitement your match reporter last track of the scorerers but nevermind.
A good win with some good features in the Medway play, which saw some of last year's U17s get more competitive rugby at this level. However even they recognised that there will be much sterner tests ahead and that they must keeping working at their game and learning from the experiences.
E.I.Addio - your man still stuck in the Mote Park brambles with the badly lacerated legs
Medway travelled away to Ashford IIs on Saturday and into unknown territory as the new league season kicked off. Having been crowned Champions last season they were dually promoted to a higher league, and with it comes bigger and harder challenges of which this was the first.
Ashford started with enterprise when their centre caught the kick off and went on a rampaging run into the heart of the visitors before a fine tackle from Jamie Chapman stopped him just short of the Medway 10 metre line, a quick ruck set up the Ashford No 8 on another dynamic run which took the home side into the visitor's 22, but after a succession of quick rucks they were unable to break through and eventually gave away a penalty which Medway cleared up field.
It was now the visitors turn to put on the pressure and showed great maturity as they took the game to the much more experienced home side. After strong running by the forwards the ball was moved wide to James Avery who gave the pass to giant wing Micky Hutton who stepped inside the covering defender, but was unable to avoid his clutches and was dragged to the ground. However, the referee had seen the Ashford midfield off side and awarded a penalty 30 metres out. Charlie Wardzynski struck the ball well but it drifted just wide. After all this pressure Medway were to go behind as an unforced error gifted the possession to Ashford and after 3 phases their fly-half dummied his way through the visitors defence to touch down near the post's for a try he converted (7 -0).
Undaunted by this set back Medway put the home side under pressure straight from the kick off but desperate tackling kept them out. However, from a midfield scrum No8 Cillian Hanna fed scrum-half Ben Dance who timed his pass perfectly to winger George Simpson who had come on for the injured Conor Chalmers and he touched down in the corner. The conversation was missed and that was the last play of the first half which ended at 7-5.
Medway were now playing down a slight slope and were beginning to play an expansive game which some of the bigger Ashford forwards were struggling to match, but even with this advantage Medway were unable to add to the scoring. A heavy blow to prop Richy Petch meant he was replaced by Jason Henderson, who showed his power immediately with a powerful run which gave Medway good field position deep in the Ashford 22 but the pressure was abated when they gave away a needless penalty and Ashford cleared their lines.
The game was now being played mainly in the home side's half, but a number of poorly executed moves wasted scoring opportunities. As the game went into the final quarter, Tom Brown won a lineout off the top and with slick hands by the backs the space opened up for Jamie Chapman to dance past the home side's full back to score a well worked try, which Charlie Wardzynski converted (7-12).
Medway continued to press but were unable to add to their tally as the last pass went to ground, but with the clock running down they held on for a thoroughly deserved victory. Coach Paul Essenhigh praised the endeavour of all 18 players used and especially those 7 from last year’s U17s who not only made their senior league debuts but have graduated seamlessly into the Development Squad.
Medway's development under 19s travelled to Sevenoaks on Sunday for a National Colt Cup fixture to decide whether they would go forward in the Cup or drop into the Plate competition. Sevenoaks were welcoming and despite the building work going on at the Club their pitches were in superb condition. This coupled with the sun on their backs meant that both teams had near perfect conditions in which to play their rugby.
With Ess still away, coaching duties fell to our very own Society referee, 'Alpatchino' Nolan. Truth be told, after two weeks with Pat the squad was probably missing Ess for the first time ever and couldn't wait to get him back. First to this game though...
An away tie with Sevenoaks at this level was always going to be a big ask as most of the Sevenoaks team played for the renowned Skinners School team, and they also have a fair smattering of Kent players as well. Medway's task was made all the harder with only having sixteen available players on the day. With that in mind, a full debut going to newbie Harry Hickman, and Ben Dance installed as captain, the game got underway.
Charlie Wardzynski kicked off and the early exchanges were even with Medway settling down well, neither side seeming to want to take any risks early on. However, after eight minutes Sevenoaks made the first move and began to ramp up the pressure. Medway's scrum began to go backwards and Tom Brown was struggling to win line-out ball against a well drilled Sevenoaks machine. 'Oaks put together the first quality move of the game and pushing the ball through the hands of the backs they got over the try line. The try went unconverted and the score was 5-0.
On ten minutes Sevenoaks ran the ball out of their own 22, getting the ball out to their wing who ran the rest of the length of the pitch for try number two which was converted under the posts for a 12-0 lead.
Medway came back fighting and manufactured a 5 metre attacking line out. Unfortunately, they knocked on at the throw and a chance was lost.
Back came Sevenoaks who earned a scrum on Medway's 5 metre line from a central position. 'Oaks got the shove on and Medway couldn't stop the resulting push over try, again converted, and a 19-0 defecit.
Medway had courageously shunned the opportunity to put points on the board, passing up a number of kickable penalty opportunites. They went on the attack again gaining territory with some solid maul and ruck work, putting together a number of phases. Inside the 'Oaks five metre line though they were turned over and their opponents were able to run the ball out, pushing it through the hands for another length of the pitch try, which was converted. The next 'Oaks try was a similar story and at half time Medway found themselves trailing by a hefty 31-0.
Medway hadn't really done anything wrong, it was more that they had found no answer on the pitch to the pace and power of the 'Oaks back line. However, Medway are no quitters and with Liam Noble being sent on as a replacement for Alex Morgan, Lewis Marriott moving to hooker and George Simpson to flanker, the team took to the pitch again with renewed vigour and intensity.
The signs were good early in the second half as, taking a gamble and stepping up in the line, Dan (JR) Stone intercepted another 'Oaks back move deep in his own half to run three quarters of the length of the field with Pete Cole in support. As the covering full back closed JR down he got the ball away to Cole but more cover was available and he was bundled into touch just short of the Sevenoaks line.
Next up was Sevenoaks on the attack but great cover defence from Cole and JR prevented another score. The game was proving to be much more even now.
Back came Medway winning a line-out around half way. They secured the ball from the resulting throw and the forwards drove 'Oaks back. At just the right time they fed the ball out to the blind and quick hands got Cole away for a try in the corner. A smile was on everyone's face as the score moved to 31-5.
Time for more defence as Oaks reacted to conceding by going straight back on the attack again. The ball was worked to their centres again and just as they seemed to have breached the Medway defence again, Wardzynski came across to make a brilliant tap tackle to thwart a near certain try.
Oaks' were hitting another purple patch and a chip over the Medway defence bounced kindly in the chase and over 'Oaks went again for an unconverted try. Shortly after, a kick through followed by a gather and quick hands put Sevenoaks in again for a converted try and a 43-5 lead. Cole, having run a 5k race earlier in the morning, was feeling the effects and he came off for Morgan.
Back came Medway and another perfectly performed intercept by JT deep in his own half saw him take off up the pitch. Morgan offered excellent support as his wing man, enough to confuse the cover, and JR was over for a try converted by Wardzynski.
The game ended with two more tries and a conversion for Sevenoaks and a final score of Sevenoaks 55 Medway 12.
The score line flattered 'Oaks somewhat, four of their tries coming from deep in their own half. However, they were clinicle when given an opportunity and usually took it. Despite the score Medway had some positives of their own. Ben Dance led the team well as Captain and was always trying to drive the team forward despite the lack of clean ball. The forwards were immense despite having an uphill battle from the start, and Conor Chalmers had another sound game at full back in difficult circumstances. More pleasing was the way that the whole team stuck to their task despite the score line playing with a pride that comes from being a Medway man. Their reward was two excellant tries and they live to fight another day.
Next up is a return to the rural league whilst the next stage of the National Colts Cup goes on hold until January 2012.
Tries: Pete Cole and Dan Stone
Cons: Charlie Wardzynski
On a gloriously sunny Sunday afternoon, Medway's Development Squad took on Westcombe Park Colts in this pre-season friendly. Both sides had the honour of playing on Priestfield's show pitch beneath a large watching crowd up on the balcony as the Club announced achieving Whole Club Seal of Approval. A guard of honour provided by Medway's Mini section added to the atmosphere.
With Ess away topping up his tan the honour of coaching the side on match day went to 'TAF' Simpson. His first decision was to install James Avery as captain and to select an under 19 front row to match 'Combes. With the mercurial John Rumsey recalled to the squad the game got under way on the wonderfully lush 'carpet' that is the show pitch.
Medway were able to 'blood' nearly all their players that had come up from last season's under 17 group and the game proved to be a test of resolve and character for the whole team with Westcombe Park showing why it is that they are one of the top sides in Kent at this age group.
A minute silence was held in honour of those lost in the 9/11 atrocities and then the game got underway.
Early sparring had resulted in a penalty slotted by Charlie Wadzynski, and having been set free by the centres, a great run and try for Jamie Chapman, converted by Wardzynski. In response a great backs move off of a forwards platform from a line out move provided a converted try for 'Combe towards the end of the half. Overall the first half proved to be a story of 'Combe's expansive rugby and Medway's resolute defence backed up by some great yard gaining carries from Dean Avery, and half time saw the game still in the balance with the score at 10-7 to Medway.
In the second half 'Combe came out all guns blazing with more expansive rugby and set about putting Medway to the sword. However, Medway's one on one tackling was holding firm and they were able to restrict 'Combe to just the two unconverted tries. In response another Wardzynski penalty kept Medway in touch with the score at 13-17 as the game went into the last quarter.
Replacements were made, Rumsey and Alex Waterman were unleashed immediately bringing their own form of direction and control to the proceedings. Almost immediately after their introduction Medway gained a penalty with 'Combe offside on the wing. Up stepped Rumsey to cooly slot the points from a difficult kick out wide. Now there was only one point in it at 16-17.
With time ebbing away Tom Bourne made a great run down the right wing until he was halted. However, his reward was a penalty that some thought was a bit harsh as the 'Combe cover was judged to have come off his feet, killing the ball, rather than Bourne holding on. Medway used the penalty to go through the phases ending with a short dash for the line by Richard Petch off the back of a great forwards drive and although 'Coombe had cover in numbers Petch was able to ground the ball for the try. Rumsey converted the extras to give a final score of 23-17.
'Combe were excellent guests playing some great rugby at times and but for some more experience at this level the result could have been different for them. As for Medway - their line out and scrummage worked well and there were some stand out performances from them in the form of Chapman, Conor Chalmers at full back, Tom Brown and of course that man Rumsey whose introduction towards the end of the game swayed the game back Medway's way. James Overy and Ben Dance drove the team on in what was overall a quality 'team' performance.
Tries: Jamie Chapman and Richard Petch
Pens: Wardzynski 2 and Rumsey
Cons: Wardzynski and Rumsey
Medway Development Squad went into their second warm up game against an experienced Sittingbourne XV full of confidence after last week's win at Dover. It became apparent from the early exchanges that the visitors were more than committed to make their younger opponents work hard for any sort of possession, and so it proved as Medway tried to play a high tempo game only to be thwarted, by sometimes illegal spoiling tactics by the visitors. The first points of the half came after 30minutes,when after a period of constant pressure Sittingbourne's number 8 crashed over from a wheeled scrum, (0-7). From the resulting kick off the visitors moved the ball quickly through the hands, only to be turned over in midfield by strong tackling from Tom Bourne and James Avery. Medway moved the ball to winger Pete Cole who showed great foot work by beating two covering defenders and off loading to the forwards, who after a succession of strong drives were awarded a penalty, which fly half Charlie Wardzynski converted (3-7). Medway were now on the front foot, and were at last giving the backs a platform to launch some attacks, with Tom Markham and Jon Seddington both making strong runs but the Sittingbourne defence held strong. As the game approached half time Medway's forwards had a series of drives towards the visitor's line but were stopped by a Sittingbourne player killing possession. In a League fixture this would have resulted in a yellow card as the count by this time had reached seven, but as the referee was still in Summer Mode these went unpunished. Half time 3-7.
Both teams made a number of changes, and it was the visitors who started the brightest when from the kick off Medway lost possession, and Sittingbourne created a blind side overlap for their captain to crash over, (3- 12).The game was now being disrupted by a string of penalties which both sides chose to run, and from a penalty on Medway's 22, quick hands and some soft tackling saw Sittingbourne score their third try, (3-17). More changes were made as the game went into the last quarter and this proved Medway's best period of the game, with some of the older visitors lacking pre-season fitness, Medway scored a try out wide by winger Micky Hutton, (8-17) This was to be the last score of the game, which was played in good spirit and proved to Medway's youngsters that their Development is work in progress, but all 24 players that played can be proud of their contribution to an enjoyable game.
Tries: Micky Hutton
Penalties: Charlie Wardzynski
Tries: James Avery, Micky Hutton, Charlie Wardzynski, Alex Waterman, Tom Markham, Jon Saddington
Conversions: Charlie Wardzynski, Dan Stone