The Tour to Arras in festive France, 2013 was a cacophony of sound along with an outpouring of merriment and joy that ensures our bonds will remain solid for many a season yet!
I am pleased to report I was there and as I left the French shore I noted all things temporal & spiritual were left ….ensuring all that went on tour, stayed on Tour!
It is a measure of the standards that the Development Squad have set themselves that everyone agreed that this was a disappointing finale to the season. Yes, they had already won the league title, however their performance as a team was not what it should have been. You could blame the wind and rain and the commitment of their opponents? Coaches Essenhigh and Tasker focussed on the lack of concentration and desire in the first 20 minutes, which started with the Medway side dropping the kick off when it was uncontested and everybody looking at the ball on the floor and not wanting it.
So those 20 minutes saw an unconvincing display of rugby which invited their opposition to "have a go". The scrums typified the play with Essenhigh shouting that he did not realise they were uncontested!
Eventually Medway, like an old car, began to go through the gears and when Ashford failed to find touch with a kick Jason Henderson ran over a couple of defenders and linked with his forwards who in broken play kept the movement going for Ryan Brimstead to score. 5-0.
The further away from Ashford's line the better Medway played and so from a scrum on their 22 Matt Cross intelligently hoisted " a bomb" which Ashford did not cope with and resulted in the long legged Tom Brown racing away for the try, which Simpson converted. 12-0.
Still Medway found it hard to find their tempo and it was a bit of a surprise that when the referee called final play of the half Medway, again on the half way line forced defence into attack by pressurising Ashford so hard that they pushed them back 30 yards, got the turnover and inspirational lock Jordan Campbell trundled over for the try. 19-0. Half time.
The 2nd half was different on one key aspect, Medway scored from close to the opposition line. Firstly from a stolen Ashford line out centre Mitchell Dent refused to be held in the tackle and his second effort got him a try near the posts. 26-0. Then from a line out some 25 yards out Medway launched an excellent "take and drive" which had tempo and control and saw number 8 Dom French crash over. 31-0. Medway were now beginning to show glimpses of what they can do and from more pressure they were awarded a penalty and a quick tap saw Brown run free for a try. 36-0. The final try was again the result of aggressive defence from which the ball broke free, was kicked ahead and young wing Matt Brightman showed fine hands in scooping up the ball and unselfishly giving the ball to George Simpson for the final score. 43-0.
It has a been long season which this group of lads can look back on with pride. As a Team they have had the best defence in the league and the best attack and all of the individuals has "developed" during it. On the day particular mention must be made of young Brightman who came on for his first extended run and excelled in all he did. Prop Alex Waterman showed, to his watching captain, that throwing in at the line out is not that hard and centre James Avery demonstrated how to hit a gap in the line, coupled with his more mature approach to the game really benefits the team.
So from the coaches well done to you all! You are the Champions!!
E.I.Addio - wet, frustrated by the play but most of all proud of you.
At last Saturday saw sunshine and clear blue skies at Priestfields and a temperature that was above freezing for this match. With Medway wanting the win to secure the Invicta League 3 title and Aylesford providing spirited opposition coach Essenhigh wondered whether his young team would get big match nerves.
In fact what he got was the most impressive display of rugby from his team this season in the first half as they moved the ball accurately and quickly around the field and ran hard and fast into any gap that showed itself. Couple this with ruthless execution and you can begin to understand how the half time score was 50-3. And this was despite dogged opposition from Aylesford.
The first 2 tries were scored by Medway's languid winger, Connor Gue, who was given space on the left to show what he is capoble of, whilst credit must be given to his team mates PG Smith and Matt Cross who with excellent passing put him into the space. Then from a scrum on their opponents 22 good hands from left to right saw winger Henderson score unopposed in the corner. Then probably the best try of the game. Medway stole a line out in their own half and quickly moved the ball left where centre James Avery cut a beautiful line through the defence, made 30 yards calmly and then put Gue in for his hat trick. 22-0. Aylesford then won a penalty and gratefully took the kick to make the score 22-3. Straight from the kick off Tom Brown regained possession and centre Dent put Cross in for a try under the posts. Further quick scores from Brown, Cross and Henderson followed as despite their domination Medway were showing a ruthless streak by kicking deep and pinning their opponents on their own line, which resulted in these scores. Then just before half time Medway won a turnover on the half way line and sent winger Henderson away and he unselfishly put in Cross for another try. HT 50 -3.
Almost inevitably the 2nd half stuttered, a combination of changes and Aylesford digging in and it was 15 minutes before Medway scored again. This time it was from a scrum in the Medway half when they broke blind and Henderson gave yet another demonstration of his mastery of the Maori side step. Then from an Aylesford penalty kick to touch that Simpson caught in his own 22 the ball was moved across the field and good interplay saw Brown break clear. The final try was from a scrum when Cross and Dent did a quick and effective run round and Cross shot away for yet another try.
This was a fitting win to secure the league title and reflects on the effort that this group of young men have made every Tuesday and Thursday night at training whatever the weather. Whether coach Essenhigh will now get the call from Mr. Gatland .............
E.I.Addio - your immensely proud and rather warmer than at Broadstairs assistant coach.
On arrival in Broadstairs Medway's flanker, Jet Masere, looked into the trees and saw the colourful parakeets roosting there. For a moment he was back home in Zimbabwe...then he got out of the car! To say that it was a biting easterly wind would not be being fair to the wind, the fact that any decent rugby was played was credit to these 2 determined teams.
With Thanet's 2nd XV fixture cancelled at the last moment they honestly and openly strengthened their 3rd XV and so provided the Medway youngsters with a stern test. Using all their guile and "extra physical presence" at every opportunity they sought to put their young opponents under pressure at all times and force errors.
So it was that a combination of the bitter cold, determined opponents and some, on occasion, frankly poor rugby that led to a very keenly contested arm wrestle that was only broken in the last 5 minutes of the game.
Medway started well and were able to recycle the ball to good effect. What was missing was composure and execution of basic skills. Playing into the teeth of the gale that blew down the middle of the pitch also meant that Thanet cleverly kept pinning Medway back into their 22 and only determined defence prevented them from scoring. After 20 minutes, from a scrum on half way the Medway backs moved the ball wide and Dent put Matt Cross, initially playing on the wing, clear and he showed what a dangerous runner he can be by slicing past defenders for a try that veteran Rumsey converted. 0-7. There then quickly followed a series of missed chances for which Medway only had themselves to blame when they failed to execute the easy bit i.e. scoring. Not helping was scrum half George Simpson's break away when his side step of the full back beat himself and he went down injured and had to be replaced. This saw Cross move to scrum half which he did with good effect. So it was a bit of a surprise when left wing, Connor Gue, retrieved a dropped ball 15 yards from the Thanet line and showed real determination to weave his way through the Thanet pack to score a good try. 0-12. Half time.
Turning round with the wind on their backs and sensing that if they took their chances a win would follow Medway soon discovered that their opponents were going to take the game to them and for the fist 15 minutes were in control of the game. So it was no surprise that from an error that they forced they drove Medway back and drove over the line for a converted try. 7-12.
From this point on Medway stuck to the game plan and consistently pinned Thanet into their own 22 with accurate kicking and good defence. As hard as they tried Thanet could not break out and so resolved to do all they could to disrupt the Medway play, which they did with real effectiveness.Just when the spectators began to wonder whether any composed play was going to happen, once again, a simple quick movement of the ball along the right hand side of the field got the ball to centre Mitchell Dent who showed what he is capable of by speedily slicing through the defence for an unconverted try. 7-17.
The pattern of the play was one of relentless challenges by the Thanet side repelled with determined Medway play, supported by accurate kicking by Rumsey and in one case Dom French which pinned back Thanet in their 22 for the last 10 minutes. Twice it seemed that French, who was outstanding in his desire to lead his fellow forwards by running hard and straight and getting over the gain line no matter what, was over and so it was ironic that when a back line pass went astray bulky winger Jason Henderson picked up the ball and crashed through some tired defence for the final try that Rumsey converted. 7-24.
It wasn't pretty but it was a win and mention must be made of the followers who travelled to Thanet and shivered stoically, kept warm by the sudden explosions from coach Essenhigh who nearly turned his natural? dusky tones to bright red on more than one occasion.
E.I. Addio explaining to Jet "yes they really are parakeets and yes Paul does go a lovely shade of crimson".
This emphatic performance by Medway's young team had coach Essenhigh purring with delight as he roamed the touchline on an afternoon made for fast open rugby. Indeed he was hoarse from encouraging his young protegees to let the ball do the work.
Their forward play was strong and decisive and the line outs, which Snowdon did not contest, were well executed with Brimstead and Coleman to the fore. When ever quick ball was won from either scrums or mauls the backs ran good lines and without being too flashy moved the ball sensibly to their 2 wingers Geddes Hansen and Gue. Scrum half Georgie Simpson rediscovered his kicking boots and began to convert opportunities from across the field. It was just a pity that Snowdon did not turn up (they cried off at 13:29!) and that all of the above was the training run that the team decided to go ahead with whilst the conditions were good.
Now the coach has a difficult job with selection for next week's game. Does he keep the players who turned up and trained so well today?
When coaches Essenhigh and Tasker checked the Canterbury website early on Saturday morning and saw that their 2nd XV did not have a match they feared the worst. That was justified, as a Canterbury team that had failed to honour its fixture away to Snowdon last week turned up looking nothing like the team they played against in September. This side had a strong running and skilful back line that had clearly played together at a higher level and the pack played like the large, effective unit they were and who were not afraid to have a dig when they thought it was justified.
So the scoreline is not truly representative of this season's Invicta 3. Nor was this performance by the Medway team, who fielded some more of their 17 year olds. Rather than do the simple things well and consistently they fell into that youthful trap of trying too hard and not letting the ball do the work. As a consequence when they had the opportunity to test their opponents defence they never quite made the play count. There were too many poor passes, failed catches, missed line outs, missed touches and that was their undoing for it stopped them building any pressure in the right parts of the field. Indeed after a careful assessment of the match the Medway coaches thought that their charges had done really well to not concede more scores.
The first 25 minutes were a real tussle with the Medway boys trying to get their game going against a very efficient and composed opponent and it took a fine line break by the Canterbury 12, who beat some poor attempted tackles, to get a score on the board. And then there was a period of concerted Canterbury pressure following a missed penalty kick to touch by Medway and each time you thought that the attacker was over he was carried back by the Medway youngsters. However another try was conceded for a half time score of 0-14.
The second half consisted of more of the same as the Canterbury team sought to dominate the middle of the park but found it hard work as there was no easy yards given away. It took a charge down from one of the Canterbury skippers on the Medway line to get the first score and then a blindside chip by the calm flyhalf which saw his winger take full advantage of his position in front of the kicker to win the race for the ball. This was a pity as the referee had a good game.
Just as you thought the Medway team would cave in they decided to give it a go and through simple handling and moving the ball quickly around the field made several good breaks up the field and yet just could not make them tell. It took a massive amount of pressure from Canterbury for them to get their final score, having not been able to convert 3 successive 5 yard line outs into points and their talented centre just had too much ability to get the outside player in the corner. 0-31.
So this was a real test of this young side and they all passed it for commitment and application. Where they need to study harder is in the core skills and game management aspects.
E.I. Addio - your man muttering about things like this making a mockery of the league but firmly believing in the Medway project.
Following the very keenly contested fixture at Edenbridge, which Medway won with the last kick of the game, both side's were looking forward to this return match - especially as they are 1st and 2nd in the league. It proved to be a keenly contested match and the commitment of both sets of players made it a very physical and bruising encounter.
With a shortage of young props of sufficient experience, coach Essenhigh called on the services of veteran prop Andy Connell to play tight head and it is fair to say that he did a sound job. After the introductions to his new team mates he soon discovered that they are a very committed group of young men, as did Edenbridge. Any thoughts that their heavier pack would dominate the game were soon blown away by a very strong first 15 minutes from Medway.
With Medway winning good second phase ball and keeping the tempo high they broke up the right hand side of the field, using bullocking winger Jason Henderson to good effect and it was only a brave tackle by the Edenbridge full back that stopped him scoring. The ball was moved quickly to the left and wing Matt Cross was taken high as he ran down the touchline. Medway kicked to touch and from a well executed line out and drive moved gradually forward until skipper Mark Coveney crashed over for a deserved try in the corner. 5- 0. Medway were having success on the right flank and from a blind side break once again Henderson wreaked havoc. The ball came left and the Medway centres calmly used the space and Mitchell Dent spotted a gap and raced through for an excellent team try. 10-0.
Medway were clearly playing to a game plan and every time Edenbridge kicked deep Medway returned it with interest, either from Rumsey or Hutton, who had another sound game. From one such return kick Edenbridge counter attacked only to find the Medway backs defence well organised. This forced a moments indecision and as Avery made the hit the Edenbridge player forced the pass and winger Matt Cross intercepted to race 60 yards for the try. 15-0. There followed a passage of play where both sides cancelled each other out and during this, some Medway indiscipline, combined with very determined Edenbridge play saw, much to coach Essenhigh's dismay, penalties conceded, two of which were converted. HT 15 -6.
The 2nd half saw the majority of play in the Edenbridge half as Medway's fly half Rumsey kicked accurately and intelligently into the corners, constantly pushing Edenbridge back. Every time the visitors tried to break the line in possession they found themselves being hit hard and effectively and so did not have the time they needed to gather their thoughts, or the territory they sought. There was just one period of 5 minutes half way into the half when they found themselves close to the Medway line but the execution under pressure was not there to take advantage. So it was that the final quarter saw Medway almost constantly knocking on the Edenbridge door and it was only a combination of misfortune and excellent defence that stopped Medway scoring more tries than they did. The solitary try of the half once again came from a line out and drive and this time Connell crashed over the line for the try and his win bonus (allegedly a year's supply of suppositories?). Rumsey converted from the touch. 22-6.
With several players clearly carrying injuries Edenbridge defended valiantly. Twice Medway were held up over the line. Three times the young stand in full back for Edenbridge made try saving tackles and so it was that the final score was 22-6.
A good win for Medway - especially as it is clear to all that there is further improvement in the team. Jordan Campbell was named man of the match for his willingness to make the extra effort to make things happen. Andy Connell was lauded for his fine drive through the Edenbridge pack and for crashing over the line to score......shame it was the 5 yard line and not the try line, although it is doubtful that he would have made the extra 5 yards, even if he had known.
A final word for the referee - who quietly went about his business and when tempers got fraught calmly got the players back into playing mode and kept the game flowing.
Your man running touch, writing the match report at the same time and occasionally throwing his beanie on the floor in frustration at poor decision making.
From a quick glance at the score you could be forgiven for thinking that this was a comfortable win for the Medway lads. That is far from the truth and would be disrespectful to their opponents. Gravesend fielded a very competitive side, compromising a robust and very experienced pack, which was complimented by a very capable and strong running back line who looked to physically challenge the Medway back line whenever they could. So be under no doubts this was a good win.
From the start the Medway team tried to play the game at a quick tempo and move the ball around the park. Simple rugby executed effectively was the key and soon there were some good passages of inter passing and support play that the Gravesend team were finding very tough to contain and it was not long before quick ball and good running lines saw Medway gain good ground up the left flank. The ball was then moved quickly to the right and centres Dent and Avery combined well for James Avery, who is now playing with growing maturity, to beat 2 defenders for a good team try. Simpson converted. 0-7. Their opponents came back hard and tried to pin the Medway lads into their 22, which they managed on several occasions but were never quite able to take advantage as the Medway defence was proving very fierce. Whether it be in the centres, where Dent showed once again how to drive back attackers, or the back row where Geddes-Hansen, Brown and French were proving disruptive, along with abrasive locks Campbell and Brimstead, there was no way through. As a result they pushed their opponents back and from a well executed miss move full back Mickey Hutton , who had a good game, chimed into the line and with a good short pass put Brimstead clear 22 yards out and there was no stopping him for a good team try. 0-12. The rest of the half followed a similar pattern and once again Brimstead was put into a gap by a team mate for a good team try. 0-17. Half time.
After some initial huffing and puffing Medway pinned their opponents into their own 22 and kept the pressure on and forced a penalty 4 yards out . Scrum half George Simpson took a quick tap and the opponents had no choice but to let him run over the line for a score. 0-22. Then just when you thought they had gained control Medway got clever. From the kick off, which was caught with the chasers some 10 yards away, the Medway player decided he would run through them all. It didn't work and worse a penalty was conceded. 3-22. Gravesend now had encouragement and sensed the Medway lads were losing the plot and once again forced them back into their 22. The next 10 minutes were a brutal contest as Gravesend battered the Medway defence and found it hard to believe that it took them all of that 10 minutes to eventually crash over the line, as several times they were held up no more than a foot from the line by defiant defence. 8-22.
Medway got the message and got back to the game plan and by judicious kicking and pressure now got the upper hand and from fine forward and backs interplay Simpson darted over the line on the blindside for a try which he converted in fine style from the touchline. 8-29. Shortly afterwards fly half Rumsey showed that he is beginning to make a full recovery from the terrible injury he suffered 3 years ago, when he darted through the defence, beating 5 players and then passing the ball to the supporting Dom French, who dropped the ball cold with the line begging. However Medway were now cutting holes in the tired defence and Gravesend could not get out of their half and indeed did well to stop Medway scoring on 3 occasions with great try line defence. So it was surprising that from a Gravesend line out throw Tom Brown not only stole the ball but then raced away from 30 yards out and scored a good individual try which Simpson converted. 8-36. Then in the last 2 minutes the pressure told again when from another Gravesend line out in their own 22 Brimstead got to a loose tap first and scored and secured his first ever hat trick. Simpson converted. 8-43.
Whilst Medway deserved their win thoroughly the final scoreline was a little harsh on a very capable and determined Gravesend side.
As to ever demanding coach Essenhigh? Well he was heard to comment that he thought that the referee had a decent second half! So he is either pleased with the outcome, or is going through the male menopause?
E.I. Addio - your man running touch, whilst writing the match report and decidely feeling his age.
Anyone who had watched the first contest between these sides in September and who found themselves at Priestfields today would, if it was not for the mud and gloom, have thought that this was a rerun of that match. The only significant difference being that it was the Medway lads who snatched victory at the very end of the allotted time.
Medway found themselves facing a very experienced, considerably heavier and very determined opposition, who proceeded to demonstrate their willingness and ability to make the game fit their own playing style and ambitions. However the first 15 minutes of the game were deceptive as Medway started the game briskly, moving the ball effectively around the field and forcing their opponents onto the back foot which resulted in some telling turnovers. Within 5 minutes they have scored an effective try when from quick forward ball the play moved towards the left wing and centre Mitchell Dent isolated his opposite number and simply accelerated through the gap for a try. 5-0.
Then tellingly Medway broke away twice from their own half and managed to butcher 2 scoring chances and their only score was a penalty kick by scrum half George Simpson (who had a mixed day with the boot). 8-0. This gave Maidstone the encouragement that Medway did not want to give them.
It was from this point onwards that Medway lost sight of their game plan, made unforced errors and allowed their opponents and the referee into the game. Now it was a grim battle between 2 sides, with the ball never straying too far from the pack. Partly this was a result of the Medway backs not allowing their opponents to ever get over the gain line through their strong defence. It may seem hard to picture but the next 20 minutes was mainly spent in the Medway half and for most of that in their own 22 and nobody seemed able to grab the game by the scruff of the neck and put Maidstone on the back foot for any period of time. So it was inevitable that a Maidstone line out and drive should slowly trundle over the line for their rotund hooker to score. 8 -5. Half time.
Clearly coach Essenhigh thought his charges had listened to his blistering half time talk and whilst the heads all nodded in acknowledgement of his finely chosen words once the game started it was the same old problems, as they allowed themselves to be dragged into a war of attrition which suited their opponents only too well. Dropped possession, going into contact isolated, not executing own line outs, not moving the ball wide to make the defenders work etc.etc. Neither side could exert control of the game but the longer the half went on the more Maidstone sensed the game was theirs for the taking and only commendable defence and commitment from Medway prevented them scoring. However you can only stay in your own 22 without the ball so long and penalties were now conceded too freely and flanker PG Smith paid the price for his indiscipline by being sin binned with 15 minutes to go. Maidstone saw their chance and turned down several kickable penalties and eventually from a line out drove over in the corner. 8-10. Then a strange moment. The conversion sailed comfortably wide of the post only for the referee to allow the kicker another opportunity as a Medway player had been leaning on the post. Whilst technically correct it was a harsh decision to say the least, especially when the veteran Charlton converted it beautifully from the touchline. 8 -12.
Coach Essenhigh brought on fresh legs in Burns, Geddes- Hansen and Burnett and having watched Medway conspire throughout the half their own downfall they raised their effort and spent the last 8 minutes pinning their opponents back in their own 22. Poor decision making and execution again was their undoing until the final 2 minutes when they showed what they are really capable of when they concentrate. From a sequence of line outs and scrums, which they now controlled, firstly prop Adam Burnett was unfortunate not to be given the try as he crashed over the line (Maidstone's tactic of burying the scorer under bodies before the ref arrived showed what a crafty team they are). Then from the "final play" of the game Medway took the line out 8 yards out. Skipper Coveney hit his jumper and the watching parents and girlfriends sensed that Medway had their "game heads on" as they controlled the play. A controlled but aggressive forward drive saw them progress the first 5 yards steadily. Then the maul partially collapsed and so they stopped and then when ready drove again with Dominic French controlling the ball at the back beautifully. When he was no more than 2 feet from the line and ready to score the Maidstone flanker came in the side (as in fairness he had all game) and prevented him scoring. As they say the ref had no choice. Penalty try. 13 -12.
As if the game had not had enough bizarre moments already Simpson managed to screw his conversion from 10 yards out wide and then the referee restarted the game after the final play.
Be in no doubt this was a good win for the Medway boys and once again showed their inner determination and commitment. If they can only manage to bring this "steel" to their game management then they can become a truly good team.
It is rumoured that coach Essenhigh has now booked himself into the Priory suffering from nervous exhaustion.
Medway started 2013 in a totally committed way and they needed to do against a much strengthened opposition who featured a number of players from some of their higher sides. However if they thought that they were going to run through their younger opponents they soon learnt that they were in for a hard contest.
With the Juddians pack consisting of a front five of older, heavier experienced players, supported by some very useful back row players the scrums were always going to be the focus for the Juddians play and so it was with the scrums nearly always being disrupted - not that Juddians always got their own way. The line outs however were a strong feature of the Medway play with them securing most of their own ball and seriously disrupting the Juddians ball.
Away from the forwards there was another intriguing battle with the Juddians back line featuring strong running and capable players who were keen to prove their dominance in running into contact. Unfortunately for them they more than met their match, with Mitchell Dent to the fore with some crunching tackles and it was ironic that Medway's 3 tries came from apprentice winger Jason Henderson finishing off well worked play by scattering any defenders in his way to the try line.
The first 25 minutes were a real battle with Juddians proving to be very physical at the point of contact and very capable at disrupting any chance of quick ball through getting themselves in the "wrong place".Medway on the other hand wanted to move their opponents around the park and it took them some time to get their tactical kicking and kick chase game going but when it did it paid dividends. Having forced a 22 restart from Juddians the ball was cleanly caught by Ryan Brimstead who ran hard and took 3 defenders to the ground with him. The ball was then moved back to the right touchline and good ball allowed scrum half George Simpson to commit the back row, give the ball to full back Connor Chalmers and with 15 yards to go to the line and 3 defenders in front Henderson blasted his way through them for a good try, which Simpson converted. 7- 0. Half time.
The 2nd half carried on in a similar vein with both teams not giving an inch and so it was only when Medway pinned their opponents in their own 22 and subjected them to sustained pressure from a sequence of line outs that the pressure told. The ball was moved along the back line efficiently and Henderson thundered in for a try which went unconverted. 12 -0.
It was then that the Medway relative inexperience told, when from the restart they failed to clear their own lines 3 times and their opponents took their chance and finally scored from a simple overlap out in the right hand corner for an unconverted try. 12 -5. The Medway response was strong and once again they pinned their opponents back into their own half and after several minutes of indecisive play by both sides Medway scored their best try. From a clean line out the ball was moved along the line and centre James Avery showed maturity in letting his opposite number rush him and then slip inside him to break the line and then give a good pass to Henderson for him to charge in. Then from the touch line Simpson converted in fine style. 19 -5.
If you thought that was it then that would be disrespectful to Juddians who came back in style as Medway proceeded to make some poor decisions and some basic errors and invited their opponents into the game - which they gladly accepted. So it was that from a Medway scrum 5 yards from their own line they found themselves propelled backwards for Juddians to score a good pushover try. 19 -10.
The last 5 minutes remained very competitive and physical and Medway nearly scored another try when PG Smith almost intercepted a pass and could not hold onto the ball, which is a pity as it would have been just reward for a fine grafting game.
This was a hard fought contest in which both teams gave their all and both left the field respecting the other. One of the highlights of the match was the incident involving Paul "Mancini" Essenhigh and Mark "Ballotelli" Coveney - who had apparently objected to the coach shouting at him and who then experienced his Coach's suntanned Latin response.
E.I.Addio - your man clearing the dog poo for the opposition whilst being proud of the Medway "lads".
Ed's footnote: The Development Squad 'Extras' made their way to Maidstone where they complimented a strong Holcs 15, gaining a fine 22-15 win. Describing it as the best Holcs performance of the season, Captain 'Stompy' commented that he would take the 'youngsters' anytime, proving that the Development Squad has true depth in numbers. A special mention goes to Sean Crittenden who, after a last minute plea from 'Brighters' and 'The Cat' travelled to Dover with the 'A' XV who narrowly lost 6-8 to the last kick of the game and despite only having 14 players and finishing the match with 13. Great example and spirit Sean, and well done.
On a damp afternoon next to the M20 in sticky conditions and against determined opponents, this was a good win that gave real evidence of the potential of this young squad. However the first 15 minutes of the match reminded the watching coaches and parents of the importance of playing as a team and thinking before acting. Why? Simply put it was a mess that Aylesford gave real encouragement to take the game to the Medway lads.
Unfortunately for Aylesford the Medway lads had decided on one thing and that was to use their opponents as tackle bags and particularly centres Dent and Onufa who were merciless in contact and literally stopped their forward motion instantly. This prevented any structured play by their opponents developing.
Eventually Medway began to bring some structure and patience to their game and this meant some concerted pressure in the Aylesford 22. When a penalty was awarded Simpson converted the penalty. 0-3. A good attack was wasted when the final pass was "thrown" forward but it was only a short time before the next penalty award, which again Simpson took. 0-6.
It was at this point that fly half Cross, who had had a frustrating start to the game, gave a glimpse of his true potential by using his support runners to fool the defence for a fine slicing break to score the first try. Simpson converted. 0-13. Cross also began to dictate that the game was played deep in the opposition half by using his boot more and showed that if he can link his running play to a thoughtful kicking game he can be a real handful and a boon to his pack. So this was the moment that Medway upped the tempo and from a good forward drive, Simpson, showing better game awareness, spotted the unattended blindside and took the ball from his forwards for a 25 yard canter to the posts. He converted this score. 0-20. HT 0-20. Whilst encouraging, the scoreline could have been more in Medway's favour, especially as Simpson managed to hit the post when taking a penalty kick from 15 yards in front in the last play of the half.
He quickly made amends by using his pack's increasing dominance at a line out by going blind, chipping the defenders and regathering his kick to run 50 yards for a fine try. Despite Aylesford's belligerence Medway's play began to become more effective as a result of keeping it simple and there were a number of flowing attacks where forwards and backs linked and the ball did the work, as it was quickly moved around the pitch by all the players. From a line out, that was taken and then driven, the ball was transferred across the field and Cross darted through the line and put wing Henderson clear for a good team try. 0- 32. It was now notable that the young Medway break away forwards were not only disrupting play but were also supporting the attacks well and their ball skills were being executed better. Jet Masere, Dominique Collins, P.G.Smith and Tom Brown were all enjoying themselves and from the restart Ryan Brimstead showed he had been listening to the coaches. He caught the restart and took the Aylesford players unawares when he suddenly cut a line inside their defence and ran hard up the middle of the pitch, beat 2 more defenders, fed the ball to young prop Barnett, who put Smith away for a good try. 0-39. Even maverick Irish recruit hooker, Lee Byrne, was having fun and hitting his line out men with ease, which greatly pleased coach Essenhigh.
Essenhigh used the opportunity to reshuffle his players and gave Mickey Hutton a run. Mickey had experienced a close family bereavement the night before and it was all tribute to him that he did not want to let the side down and had turned up - which his team mates really appreciated.
The final try came from concerted pressure on the Aylesford line and when the ball was moved to fly half Cross he showed what he can do, by stepping the onrushing defence and bravely darting over the line for a try that Simpson converted. 0- 46.
If this squad can remember in 2013 what they did well today then the future looks pretty positive.
Your Man in the shadows of the M20 shouting "what did you say Ess, I can't hear you, trucks....I said trucks .....lots of noise...
Medway travelled to freezing East Kent for a tough encounter against Snowdown 1st and came away with a well deserved victory. The prematch team talk was to keep the ball off the ground and off load as much as possible, and this paved the way for the first score by winger Conor Gue, as Ryan Brimstead and Jordan Campbell powered up field and set up quick ruck ball for the backs to get the ball wide for the touch down 0-5.
With the pack providing good set piece possesion the Dev Squad's backs were making inroads into the heart of Snowdown's defence, and from the fifth phase Brimstead off loaded perfectly to Conor Chalmers who evaded the home side defense to score under the post's, converted 0-12
The visitors were now in control, and from pressure by the back row Snowdown's flanker went off his feet to give Medway an easy penalty which was converted 0-15. With half time looming Medway increased the tempo which created the space needed for winger Jason Henderson to crash over in the corner 0-20 HT.
The half time team talk from coach Essenhigh was as before, keep the ball off the ground and get pace into space. Well, unlike the start of the game, they went totally against these words of wisdom and kept getting penalised for going to ground and not releasing, which releaved the pressure on the home side.
When the game was kept fluid James Avery, Mitch Dent and George Simpson were looking dangerous, but on too many occasions the final pass went to ground. Snowdown were now winning all the contact areas and with a very nippy scrum half Medway's defence was streatched, and only last ditch tackles stopped the home side from a deserved score. The Dev Squad started to improve their ball retention, and after a storming run by Dominic French, Tom Brown and the ever present, Brimstead the ball went wide for Gue to step inside the cover defense to score a great team try. 0-25.
As the game went into the final quarter Matt Cross and Adam Barnett entered the battle and both put in huge efforts, Barnett in the scrums and Cross with oustanding defense. Medway were still on the front foot and were playing with more composure, but yet again with the line in sight were penalised for not releasing. Snowdown kicked to touch to releave the pressure, but from the resulting line out Tom Brown as he had done all game stole the home sides throw and Medway drove up field, as they gained momentum Snowdown came in the side to give away a needless penalty. Medway kicked to touch, and from the lineout a great catch and drive saw the forwards make 20 metres before Snowdown had no choice but to bring it down illegally, from the resulting penalty Simpson tapped and crashed over for a well deserved try. 0 30.
Even with the game lost, the Snowdown forwards were still running with purpose, but the young Medway lads were determined to keep them from scoring, and were still making tackles as the final whistle sounded in the gloom. 0 - 30 FT.
"JOB WELL DONE" Said Ess. We look forward to welcoming Thanet to Priestfield's next Saturday 8th December.
Saturday's visit to the seaside was not a jolly jaunt. Faced with a team made up of youthful opposition with a smattering of experienced older players was enough of a challenge. Add to this constant rain, wind and a glue pot of a pitch and the prospect for fast, entertaining rugby was nil.
The best that can be said about this match from a Medway perspective was that the Development lads won. Most of the individual performances were way below average and the inability to play the conditions in an intelligent way, despite some very direct coaching instruction, is becoming a real concern.
Having said that they started well and should have been a try up within 10 minutes as they drove forward near the Deal line only to lose control of the ball at the vital moment.
So the pattern was set as Deal established themselves as determined opponents, whose older players steered the play around the park with ease. Medway's efforts in contrast lacked a sense of direction, patience and common sense and all too often they would make good yards only to attempt something that failed to recognise the rain and mud. After some 20 minutes the penny dropped, when from a line out a very patient and yet dynamic maul was driven over 20 yards and as it collapsed on the try line scrum half George Simpson darted over for a try he converted. 0-7. Any thought that this would settle the Medway lads down was foolish and as the play became literally very messy penalties were needlessly conceded. From one of these the Deal veteran centre kicked a good penalty. HT 3-7.
Following very stern words from coach Essenhigh that made absolutely no difference, Medway continued to play the wrong type of rugby in the wrong part of the field and despite having a strong wind on their backs managed to play the next 20 minutes in their own half. Result - more penalties - one for a slightly harsh adjudged late tackle and then offside. 9-7.
Following a period of play which neither team could dominate, the final 10 minutes saw the Medway lads pile on the pressure and more by luck than judgement pinned their opponents in their own 22. However the composure and patience was not there and just as you thought this game was lost another maul and drive, following a fine head on tackle by substitute Theo Onufu that saw the ball break free, number 8 Dominique French slide over for a try. 9 -12.
The last 2 minutes petered out as both teams slogged it out to no great effect. FT 9-12.
A wet, cold and generally miserable looking Coach Essenhigh was heard to mutter" why am I stood here when I could be at home with a cup of tea and ranting at the idiots on TV?" An opinion others may well have shared?
Medway's youngsters continue to make steady progress as they weld onto their impressive commitment and defensive efforts a bit more incisiveness and thought to their endeavours. Particularly in the first half when they played up the slight slope on the Canterbury show pitch and into a wind they used the ball well and through simple skills executed well gained complete control of the match.
With debutant prop Johnson not looking out of place the pack exerted good pressure on their opponents and with a new approach to the line outs got more than their fair share of the possession which denied the Canterbury efforts to dictate where on the field the game was played. Medway showed good judgement in moving the point of attack quickly and after 10 minutes the ball was moved to the right and full back Chalmers chimed into the line to beat the despairing defence for a good try in the corner. 0 -5. Ten minutes later a similar attack saw bustling winger Henderson given the chance to run over the defenders, which he did. 0 -10. Shortly afterwards virtually the same blind side play saw Henderson charge over the line for a score. 0-15. Canterbury continued to bravely take the game to the Medway side and won a penalty 20 yards out. With a distinct mark of respect they elected for the kick which made the score 3 -15. However unfortunately for them the Medway side kept forcing turnovers as a result of their tackling and showing more patience worked the ball up the field. From concerted pressure they managed to cross the line twice - firstly centre Dent forcing his way over and then scrum half Simpson. Unusually one of the tries was converted. HT 3- 27.
The 2nd half was a curious affair. Firstly Simpson burrowed his way over the line from close in and then following a sweeping move the ball was moved from right to left and with dummy runners a plenty Chalmers scored virtually untouched. 3- 37. Then the highlight of the match. The restart kick was caught by Steve Lowry who with surprising footwork for a prop and Steve, he beat 2 defenders and broke clear down the middle of the pitch. Having run 30 yards and nearing the full back he caught everyone unawares when he pirouetted on his right foot and as he spun round passed the ball to the supporting Cross who raced away for a try, which he converted. Lowry's balance and awareness had coach Paul "Len Goodman" Essenhigh purring and reliving some of his past glories - again!
Shortly afterwards another fine sequence of interpassing and support saw the ball moved left to allow debutant winger Gue show his potential as he raced away for a good try. 3-49. With twenty minutes to go you would have been forgiven for thinking a cricket score beckoned. However a combination of poor decision making, over confidence, indiscipline and puzzling refereeing meant that Medway found themselves defending their line for all their worth - which they did well. In a moment of madness Lowry blotted his copybook by being sin binned for unsportsmanlike play and so Medway now played with 14 men till the end of the game. This did not stop them forcing the play down the field and when the Canterbury full back was forced into a panicky clearance Medway made their best team play of the game. Scrum half Simpson collected the ball on the half way line, considered his options and then linked with Chalmers. He then attacked the Canterbury line and the ball went through the hands to put wing forward Brown away for a long legged run to the line. 3 -54.
A decent win against doughty opponents, although there is much work still to do.
This was clearly the best team performance and win of the season for the Medway youngsters.
Arriving at Edenbridge on a cold, very windy day and seeing a sticky pitch did not encourage anyone, including the travelling spectators, to look forward to the match. In addition they found themselves faced with a very determined, robust and physically bigger opposition. Edenbridge won the toss and unsurprisingly chose to play with the wind on their backs and it was clear that their intention was to blast their way through and over their young opponents and reach half time with a comfortable lead. The Medway side with several new faces and players playing out of position were determined that this was not going to happen and set out their stall with some robust tackling and collisions. Every time Edenbridge kicked the ball down the field Medway managed to work their way back to the home 22 and it was only a lack of "savvy" and calmness that prevented them from scoring. The game ebbed and flowed and surprisingly despite the strong wind Medway did press the Edenbridge try line on a couple of occasions and only strong defence kept them out. It was just when you thought that Medway had done enough to keep the game scoreless that on the stroke of half time the aggressive Edenbridge scrum half managed to dart over from a ruck ten yards out, which was converted. HT 7-0.
Stick to the game plan was the message at half time but it took a while before Medway could pin their opponents back. Indeed from one fine flowing move which saw Edenbridge scorch up the left wing and then move the ball across the field it looked likely they would score only to be denied by strong midfield defence. The next 20 minutes saw Medway trying to take advantage of better field position and eventually their patience paid off as they forced an error amongst the Edenbridge ranks and full back Hutton pounced on the ball to roll over the line for a try which scrum half George Simpson converted. 7 -7. Medway were now getting more effective with the ball and forcing back their opponents into their own 22 and there was a lot of hard forward battling going on and as they won more quick ball they were awarded a penalty which Simpson converted from in front of the posts. 7- 10. There were now 3 minutes to go and from the kick off Medway made a hash of catching the kick, someone was caught offside - penalty to Edenbridge. Their young full back kicked a fine penalty from the touchline into the wind to even the scores. 10 -10. There were now 30 seconds left on the clock and from a good kick off and angry chase by the Medway forwards Edenbridge made the same error. So up stepped Simpson who from 40 yards out struck a fine penalty to win the game, 10 -13.
Coach Essenhigh celebrated with the excited players what had been a hard fought win. As he rightly said there was no man of the match as they had all played well. Special note though must go to Alex Kadir in the second row for his first game, Lee Byrne (no not the Welsh one - the Irish one!) who played at prop for the first time following the loss of Waterman to injury and fly half Matt Cross who played with more composure and made the tackle of the game on an opponent who was 6 inches taller and 6 stone heavier and drove him off his feet to the delight of his team mates.
E.I.Addio - your man on the touchline dreaming of warm sunny days as he shivered with the rest of them.
Medway welcomed Gravesend to Priestfield’s on Saturday looking to improve on their two last matches which ended in narrow loses to Maidstone and Ashford.
With this being the first home game of the season Medway wanted to impress their loyal supporters to a fast skilful match which in the opening encounters proved the difference between the two sides.
From a period of good ball retention the move went wide to Reece Burns who showed quick feet and aggression to get the better of his opponent only to be tackled short of the line, after a quick ruck Conor Chalmers went over for a converted try.
This was just the start the home side was looking for,but from this moment the more experienced visitors were not going to allow a free flowing game and decided that a tight game was in order, they carried out the game plan to subdue the young Medway squad and drive them back at every opportunity, but after a period of sustained pressure the home side won turn over ball and when the ball got to Matt Cross he showed the defence a clean pair of heals to score under the post for a converted try. HT 14 – 0.
Coach Paul Essenhigh’s half time team talk was keep away from contact, move into space and kick from deep and victory would be a formality. The second half started as the first with Medway in control but through lack of vision a poor skill sets they were unable to add to the score. Gravesend were now winning scrums and lineouts at will, and strong running from forwards and backs alike the home sides defence was being stretched,but one thing these young lads have is personal pride and Gravesend were thwarted time and time again. From a fine tackle in midfield the ball went lose and Matt Cross scored his second try, 19-0. This should have released the free flowing style of rugby the home side were looking for, but Gravesend were not going to give up, and continued to drive the home side back deep into their own 22, but as before the defence held strong, with Matt Cross and George Simpson relieving the pressure with magnificent touch finds.
Medway then managed to maintain possession through a number of phases to get the ball wide to winger Jason Henderson who run over and around the visitors defence to score a well worked team try.24-0
Going into the final quarter the challenge was to keep the visitors scoreless and play the game in the final third, from a driving run by Adam Barnett the ball was fed to man of the match RyaBrimstead who showed outstanding pace to score a well deserved try 31-0.
Part one of the challenge successfully accomplished, the next part proved more difficult, as from a Medway lineout the homeside’s hooker managed to miss all his own jumpers and perfectly found the a Gravesend player who at that stage was looking for the changing rooms, he drove forward and from a ruck close to the line the visitors fly half fed the winger to score in the corner. 31-5.FT
Medway were victorious in a game made very difficult by a spirited Gravesend side, but also by their own lack of control and game management. Next week they travel away to Edenbridge 1st’s.
Once again Medway's Development Squad found themselves confronted with a much more experienced and heavier team, which this week had a sprinkling of 1st XV players within it. So looking at the result you might think that they would be pleased with the final score? You could not be further from the truth, for this game was there for the taking. Once again it was the lack of composure at critical times, coupled with making the right tactical decisions that let them down - something which their determined opponents took full advantage of.
If Ashford's weighty pack thought they were going to roll over the Medway youngsters they quickly found out they were wrong. With Brimstead and Campbell to the fore the Medway side made sure that the collisions were fierce. Referred expertly by Benedict Preece, who again had a fine game, the contact area was competitive as he made sure that neither side sealed off the ball. And so after some initial mid field combat Medway moved the ball effectively down the field to near the Ashford line. From the resulting line out they took the ball and very efficiently drove their heavier opponents over their own line and PG Smith scored a fine forward's try. 0-5.
Despite having agreed a game plan of "make sure they play out of their own half" Medway then conspired to play the game in their own 22 for the next 10 minutes and nobody seemed prepared to grab the game by the scruff of the neck. Eventually the pressure told - but in an embarrassing way. 40 yds from the Medway line the Ashford hooker over threw the line out and his flanker, standing at the tail, found the ball in his hands and no one in front of him and raced to the line for the try. The less said about the despairing attempts at tackles the better. 7-5.
Medway's determination could not be faulted and they kept pressing their opponents and then enjoyed 5 minutes of possession in the Ashford 22, which saw their hosts concede several penalty attempts. Eventually somebody heard fuming coach Tasker's loud plea to take the penalty kick (10 yards out in front of the posts - bit of a clue there) which George Simpson converted. 7-8 at half time.
The first 15 minutes of the second half were bewildering. Was it because again Medway ignored the game plan. Was it because their effort and commitment was immense, or was it simply that the next 3 Ashford tries were embarrassingly easy scores? Once again Ashford went to their best move of the day - the accidental over throw at the line out and the same athletic flanker ran in from 40 yards untouched? 12-8. The next saw the rangy Ashford number 8 pick up from a scrum in his own 22 and with a little help from the flanker who held Tom Brown back, galloped away from some poor tackles, stepped over diminutive full back Hutton's attempt to bite his ankles and scored a fine individual try. 8-19. This was quickly followed by a try that saw Medway put their opponents under pressure and force the ball behind them only to let the younger of the senior centres bash and meander his way across the defensive line to score another fine individual try. 24-8. With 25 minutes to go coach Tasker asked replacements Burns, Hansen and French to bring some fresh energy to the effort and this had an immediate effect as the entire team suddenly remembered the game plan!
Good pressure put the Ashford team in their own 22 and turnover ball and good hands saw the ball moved quickly across the field for James Avery to finish a good team try. 24 -13. From the kick off Ashford again asserted themselves and during a sequence of determined Medway defence the same athletic Ashford flanker cut a beautiful line onto a pass and raced clear for the best try of the game and a deserved hat trick. 31 -13.
This Medway side are never beaten and they came back strongly by making sure the ball was deep in the Ashford half. From an Ashford scrum good pressure from Simpson forced an error which Cross followed up and Dom French took the ball to score and Simpson to convert. 31-20. Now moving the ball the full width of the pitch saw Medway stretching the opposition effort consistently and this caused errors - one of which was a poor clearance kick which lock Campbell took control of. Running at the defence like a centre he gave a good pass to barn storming winger Henderson who brushed through the defence from 30 yards out for a good score. 31 -25.
The after match talk amongst the players was a case of if only we had executed those line outs near their line like we did all the others, if only we had played more of the game in their 22 etc.etc. That is the next step that this team individually and collectiveley needs to address.
Dave Tasker - Proud and yet Annoyed.
A valiant and youthful Medway Development Squad were very unfortunate in this hard fought clash between 2 sides of contrasting styles and abilities. The Maidstone side, stacked with experience and a very heavy pack clearly had the advantage over a young and inexperienced side missing some of their more battle hardened forwards. That is not to say that the likes of Tom Coleman and Toby Gerdes-Hansen did not acquit themselves well, for they did. It was just the lack of the odd 5 stone per man which told in the end, coupled with the fact that the Maidstone forwards had quickly realised that they could seal off every breakdown situation with complete impunity and so frustrate the Medway lads.
On top of that this was a bizarre game of rugby. It ended at 4:50pm - so where the extra 20 minutes came from is puzzling and Maidstone took the concept of "rolling subs" to a level that the Green Bay Packers would have struggled to keep track of. When their tight head prop came on for his 3rd cameo appearance of the game coach Essenhigh was lost for words - which is in itself hard to believe. This coupled with an eccentric refereeing display made for a tough afternoon at the office and whilst the Medway lads were valiant and totally committed it was not quite enough to hold on for the win.
Straight from the kick off the pattern of the game was set as Maidstone pressed Medway into their 22 for long periods and kept the ball tight amongst their forwards. From a scrum that wheeled their scrum half knocked on , then passed the ball to their full back who broke 2 ineffectual tackles for an annoying score. 0-5. Shortly afterwards saw the Medway side starting to move the ball more effectively across the pitch and wing Theo Osibuna proved what a menace he can be with some searing runs that only desperate defence prevented a Medway score. From a scrum the Medway backs efficiently executed a miss move which saw full back Michaela Hutton put wing Pete Cole away for a fine try. 5-5. Hutton was proving to be real thorn with his counter attacking play and a kick ahead, followed by a quick turn over saw the ball moved to lock Jordan Henderson who broke clear and give a well timed pass to James Avery to score near to the posts. Cross converted. There then followed a period of sustained forward pressure from Maidstone but the Medway side defended bravely. Half time 12-5.
The 2nd half continued in like manner and eventually the Maidstone pressure told when their hooker broke a couple of timid tackles and scored near the posts for a try that was converted. 12-12. Medway were only managing to make the odd break out when their speed and agility was coming to the fore and substitute Gerdes-Hansen made a searing break through the Maidstone defence for a fine try. 17-12. It was shortly after this that Medway should have killed the game when after several phases of fine quick ball and support play the ball was moved to the right and with a clear overlap the ball was moved back towards the Maidstone pack. Then the war of attrition began with the Maidstone pack pinning the Medway side in their own 22. When the referee said just one minute left coach Essenhigh made a wry smile and his scepticism was justified when 4 minutes later full back Hutton was yellow carded (as he was chasing a kick ahead at the time we are not sure why) and from a succession of scrums with the last play of the game Maidstone were awarded a penalty try for the win.
There is no doubting these young players their commitment and will to win - they just need to be a little smarter and better at their execution, for they should have won this game. Hence the name - Development Squad.
E.I.Addio - your man shaking his head and pondering the meaning of life!
Looking at the result you would conclude that Medway coaches Tasker and Essenhigh would be delighted with the outcome of this opening fixture of the season. Well you would be very much wrong. There were even post match rumours that Essenhigh was "ashen faced" during the 2nd half - which for those of you who know him will find very hard to imagine.
Starting the match with a core group from last season's team mixed with some new faces from last season's under 17's it was inevitable that some of the play might be disjointed when faced with an experienced and determined Juddians side bent on over turning last season's defeats. The first 15 minutes were full of endeavour punctuated with all too many unforced and preventable penalties from Medway and it was only determined defence that kept the hosts out. Every time Medway had possession they lacked the composure and mental discipline to make their fitness and youthful enthusiasm tell. In fact they butchered at least 4 clear try scoring chances in this period.
After nearly 20 minutes a tap penalty saw Medway drive into contact, release the ball for new fly half Matt Cross to go blind and free wing Pete Cole to make ground and then the ball was transferred inside for Matt Cross to score under the posts. This lit the touchpaper with a flurry of fine tries from all parts of the field with Cole, Cross, Avery, Brimstead and Carlin crossing the line and Cross converting all of them. The last try was a particular delight when from a restart quick hands and off loads in and before contact saw the ball carried from the Medway try line the full length of the field with forwards and backs interlinking and wing Carlin being the lucky boy on the end of the move. Half Time: 47 -0.
The 2nd half was as disappointing a display as one could witness. With no disrespect intended to the valiant Juddians players, who gave their all and were doughty opponents, the Medway youngsters became ill disciplined and in some cases moody adolescents. Any team shape and game structure disappeared from their game and consequently they spent the first 20 minutes in their own half. It took some tireless and inspirational work from prop Steve Lowry who was outstanding in the loose to get some go forward and eventually Pete Cole was put away after a fine break by centre Mitchell Dent, who had a good first game. Further tries from scrum half George Simpson and Matt Cross's fourth of the game saw the score stretch out to the final 68 -5 when they disappointingly conceded a well worked try by Juddians.
There were signs of promise but there is much work to do and some of the squad members will need to work harder if they are to keep their places.
Dave Tasker - your man keeping a close watch on Ess's blood pressure.
Summer finally arrived as Medway opened their season with a friendly against an equally young Dartfordians side. With the temperature in the 80s both teams tried to play an open and expansive game in conditions more suited to cricket.
It was the visitors who had much of the early territory, with strong defence and poor excecution the game remained scoreless after 20 minutes, but a dropped pass in Medway's backline was pounced upon by the home side's winger who touched down under the posts, 0-7. Medway's response was an unconverted try by Tom Brown after pressure by Medway's pack 5-7.
With both coaches making regular changes, the next score came from new centre Mitchell Dent who showed strength and pace as he stepped through a tight defence to touch down, 12-7. The remainder of the first half was a forward battle as both teams looked to take control, but from lost possession by the visitors, Dartfordians lively winger showed great foot work to get round Mark Coveney to score the last points of the half. 12-14 half time.
More changes for both teams saw Medway up the tempo and totally dominate the beginning of the 2nd half with both forwards and backs alike making regular holes in the home sides defence. From a typical Jason Henderson burst, quick ruck ball gave Ryan Brimstead the next score 19-14. Jason Henderson ran straight through the home defence to add to the total, 24-14 and with Ryan Brimstead rounding off a great display with his second try, 29-14, the game was now beyond the home side.
The last quarter saw Medway up the tempo even more which Dartfordians were unable to match, and with excellent lineout possession the Medway backs were given a constant supply of front foot ball, which was put to good use when quick hands saw young winger Theo Onumah sprint 50 metres to score the try of the afternoon, 34-14.
The home side were still eager to run the ball, but Medway's defence was resolute, and after turnover ball in midfield the visitors counter attack was both powerful and direct, as scrumhalf George Simpson scampered over for the last score of the match, 41-14.
This was an encouraging start for Medways new look squad and all the U17’s playing their first seniors match played with enthusiasm, committment and showed they are going to be a welcome addition to the Development Squad. Well done all,Cmon Medway!!