The Kent Vase final took place on Sunday at Canterbury RFC in glorious sunshine. Medway, having won through, were playing a team not only from top of the league above but also the defending champions. They started as massive underdogs but were determined to give their best.
In front of a large crowd the game kicked off and both teams looked to take the game to the other. The conditions were ideal for running rugby and both teams adopted that ethos. As the teams settled down Old Gs looked the sharper and deservedly went ahead after 10 minutes. A sharp incisive move with the Old Gs fullback breaking the line saw them score near the posts. This was converted to give them the lead 7-0.
Medway looked to come back. Glen Wadsworth looked dangerous and with Billy Humphrey and Spencer Lancaster performing well in the loose Medway were not overawed. Old Gs continued to look to their ever dangerous backs to stretch Medway.
With 17 minutes gone Old Gs went further ahead. Their forwards produced good quick ball from a ruck and broke through the stretched Medway defence. The ball went wide and Old Gs scored a well taken try in the corner. This was unconverted making the score 12-0.
Medway needed to get into the game as it was slipping away but this was hampered with loose head Andrew Morgan having to leave the field. He was replaced by 18 year old Martin Drobka. Medway continued to battle back into a game but where they were just slightly slower to the ball than old Gs
After 30 minutes of cut and thrust Medway got their reward when they won a lineout through Anthony Cross on the Old Gs 22 and executed a set piece move which saw winger David Soledolu score after breaking a couple of tackles. Dafydd Ruffel converted and went into half time just 12-7 down.
The second half started and within 5 minutes Old Gs scored went over again for an unconverted try. Their backs were stretching the Medway defence every time they got the ball. This put them 17-7 ahead.
Medway then had a double injury blow with tight head prop Mick Head leaving the field with a bad cut from an accidental clash which required 12 stitches. Ben Wadsworth in making a last ditch clearance out wide injured a shoulder. They were replaced by Monish Shome and 17 year old Tom Willoughby.
Medway reshuffled the pack a second time. Old Gs looked to try and finish the game but Medway stuck in and continued to battle. Danny Williams and Rob Ellis tested the opposition defence and with Rob Longstaff looking to get his wingers away Medway started to trouble Old Gs. James Reeves carried the ball up looking to tie in the Old Gs backs.
With 20 minutes left Old Gs won a penalty for an offside offence and converted the resultant kick to go 20-7 ahead. At this break down young Drobka had to leave the field as did David Soledolu to be replaced by Geoff Kempt and Dayne Glassey. Medway had now lost 3 front row players to injury and scrums had to be uncontested.
Due to the extreme hot conditions the referee called for a scheduled water break. This allowed Medway to re-organise and re-group.
With 15 minutes left Medway were 13 points down and on the back foot. Captain Dominic Collins and coach Taff Gwilliam threw the gauntlet down and challenged the team to lift themselves and show the character they had developed over the season and finish strongly.
The players all responded and the last 15 minutes belonged solely to the Medway team.
Ellis was put away wide and he went over in the corner for a great try which was unconverted to the make the score 20-12. Medway then camped down in the Old Gs 22m and exerted prolonged pressure on the Old Gs team. From a lineout on the 22m Medway caught and drove all the way to the try line only for the maul to be mysteriously dropped. The officials saw nothing and Medway were denied. Billy Humphrey was stopped soon after on the Old Gs line by some great defensive work. Medway pounded the line strong work from Steve Smith, James Reeves, Monish Shome and Dayne Glassey kept the Old Gs pinned back. Despite the pressure Medway could not score again.
Old Gravesendians ran out the winners. Their victory was deserved. On the day they were the better side however this young Medway team impressed with their character and resilience in defeat.
Medway have suffered only 3 defeats all season and in gaining promotion for the second successive season proved that they are more than capable at being competitive in the higher league next season.
Congratulations must go to the Old Gs for a deserved successful defence of their Vase but in defeat there was lot of credit for the Medway youngsters to take away from this final.
Medway took on Sheppey for the second time in seven days on Saturday, this time in the Kent Vase semi final. In windy and wet conditions the game went ahead in front of a large crowd.
Medway played with the wind at their backs in the first half and in truth should have dominated field position, it was not the case. Sheppey looked the stronger side in the opening exchanges with Thompson and Bricknell prominent at the breakdown and King orchestrating the attacks from fly half. Medway were starved of possession initially and were forced to defend. Dayne Glassey, Ben Wadsworth and Rob Longstaff all making telling tackles. As the game wore on Medway began to get a foothold.
After 15 minutes, somewhat against the run of play, Medway went ahead with a penalty from Dafydd Ruffel when Sheppey were caught handling in the ruck.
This gave the home side confidence and with the wind they started to pin Sheppey back in their own half. Box at full back was always a threat but he was having to attack from deep and was unable to breach the home defence.
Medway went further ahead through Glen Wadsworth. Good driving play up the middle from the forwards with Morgan, Head and Reeves particularly prominent got to Sheppey’s 22m line then quick ball from Ruffel saw Wadsworth go blind and outpace the defence for a well taken try. Ruffel added the conversion and Medway led 10-0.
Medway looked to press home the advantage but were disrupted with injuries. Both the influential Liam Weobley and centre Monish Shome were forced from the field. The half time whistle came with no further scoring.
The second half was a very scrappy affair. Both sides were looking to impose themselves on the other. Sheppey looked the stronger in the tight but Medway dominated the lineout with Both Lancaster and Cross in fine form. It was the lineout which provided the telling score.
Medway playing against the wind always looked to retain the ball and drive up into the wind in an attempt to force Sheppey into conceding penalties. From their own line Medway caught and drove a lineout. The visitors were penalised for collapsing. Medway kicked up the line and caught and drove again. Thompson was penalised a second time for dropping it. Medway kicked caught and drove and for a third time it went down. Again Medway caught and drove but lost possession on the Sheppey line. The ball was fed to King but his attempted clearance was charged down and Rob Ellis pounced and the loose ball to score. This was unconverted and Medway led 15-0.
Sheppey looked to get back into the game. King brought the ever dangerous Box into the line at every opportunity. Medway held firm until with 15 minutes remaining Box went over on left side after Medway were stretched defensively and caught out of position. He converted his own try to make the score 15-7.
Despite this setback Medway were not to be denied. Humphrey was throwing well and the forwards were showing good ball retention. Smith working manfully backed up by strong runs from debutant Soledolu ensured Sheppey were starved of the ball. When they did get it young centres Tom Willoughby and Geoff Kempt kept the home line intact.
Medway ran out the winners. This was a very close match and probably closer than the score line suggests. On balance they probably just deserved the win. Sheppey gave a very gutsy, robust performance but fell just short.
Medway’s impressive season continues with another cup final. They will start as big underdogs but will have nothing to lose against their higher league opposition.
Medway were crowned Champions of their league for the second consecutive season.
Victory against Sheppey on Saturday ensured the championship went to the already promoted Medway team. However that victory did not come easy. Sheppey were determined to try and win the match. The ‘Robin Everest Trophy’, an annual memorial cup played for between the two clubs, which Medway had never won, was also on the line.
Medway kicked off playing into a strong breeze and within 5 minutes were defending their line. The defence held well forcing the turnover and driving up field. Playing into the strong wind Medway looked to keep the game tight and control the ball. Good driving play by Liam Weobley and James Reeves backed up by Dave Evans, Danny Williams and Ben Wadsworth ensured Medway kept control of the ball and maintained field position in the Sheppey half.
Medway opened the scoring after 12 minutes with a try from Glen Wadsworth, A solid scrummage inside Sheppey’s 22m saw Reeves attack the open side, good quick ball was provided through Dominic Collins and Rob Longstaff and Wadsworth went blind. Home winger John Dean was left isolated and could do nothing to prevent Wadsworth score. The try was unconverted.
Both teams were trying to play rugby. Sheppey looked to their powerful centres to try and punch holes through the Medway defence but they held firm. Medway looked to get the ball and keep it with the wind so strong in their faces. Good tight pick and driving from the rucks by Mick Head, Andrew Morgan and Anthony Cross gave Medway good field position again. Sheppey were desperate to get their hands on the ball and paid the price of over eagerness. Referee John Norton penalised them for handling in the ruck. Wadsworth converted one of the penalties and Medway led 8-0 going into the half time.
The second half saw Medway receive a double blow. Both centres, Danny Williams and Ben Wadsworth, had to leave the field with injuries. Seventeen year old Tom Willoughby entered the fray and together with replacement second row Steve Smith formed the new centre partnership.
After just two minutes of the second half Medway kicked and cleared their lines to the half way. Peter King gathered the ball and took a quick throw in to Brad Box. Box set off and beat the first line of defenders then stepped the cover defence to score a quality individual try. He converted himself to make the score 8-7.
The second half then took on a familiar pattern. Medway kicked for field position and Sheppey looked to counter attack from deep.
After 52 minutes Sheppey were caught offside at a lineout on their 10m line. Wadsworth kicked the penalty to increase their lead to 11-7.
Medway looked to keep Sheppey pinned back. For Sheppey Box always looked dangerous on the counter. Bricknell and Thompson fought for everything in the contact areas.
Medway dominated the lineout with good throwing from Billy Humphrey and excellent work from Spencer Lancaster and Anthony Cross. Sheppey, for their part, dominated the scrummage area. Medway No8 Reeves was forced to pick up several times to ensure that possession was retained for the visitors.
With 25 minutes to go and Medway keeping Sheppey pinned back Sheppey increasingly looked to force turnovers and as a consequence committed a number offences and were penalised. Wadsworth although missing 4 chances in quick succession ensured Sheppey were kept pinned back.
The best try scoring opportunity of the second half for Medway came with 12 minutes left. Good interplay between forwards and backs, Wadsworth, Ellis, Lancaster prominent, attacking the narrow side saw
the home defence beaten only for the ball to be spilled on the goal line.
Sheppey escaped and then continued to try and run out. Medway were scrambling at times in defence but good work from Dave Evans, Steve Smith and Dayne Glassey ensured no breakout for the home side. With just 4 minutes remaining Medway were awarded another penalty for handling in the ruck. Wadsworth kicked it and make the score 14-7.
Sheppey continued valiantly but ran out of time. Medway were the victors and with it became League 2 Champions and winners of the ‘Robin Everest Trophy’.
This match was played in the right spirit by two teams trying to play rugby in difficult conditions.
Coach Taff Gwilliam was very pleased with the outcome. ‘This is a difficult place to come and win, it is never easy, the players should be proud of themselves. We are delighted to be Champions, I have pushed the players hard this season and they have reaped the rewards of their commitment’.
Medway went into this match in the knowledge that victory would ensure their promotion for the second successive season . In front of a large crowd the team produced the performance that all the players and supporters craved scoring 7 tries to complete a resounding victory by 49 points to nil.
In difficult windy conditions Medway kicked off with the wind at their backs and immediately put the visitors under pressure forcing them to concede a lineout in their 22. Medway executed a set piece play off the training ground and James Reeves went over after two minutes for the dream start.
Medway’s effort on the training ground was further rewarded when man of the match, hooker Billy Humphrey, scored from another set piece move. Dafydd Ruffle converted and Medway led 12-0.
The visitors although under pressure did not let Medway have it all their own way. They defended well and looked dangerous on the break. Despite this Medway continued to dominate and Ruffel added a further 3 points when the visitors were caught offside at a ruck.
After 38 minutes centre Danny Williams scored after good work by Reeves and Weobley allowed Glen Wadsworth to switch play. Ruffel converted.
The first half scoring was complete when the visitors were penalised for a high tackle and Ruffell kicked the penalty to make the lead 25-0.
The second half saw Medway play into the strong wind in the second half but despite this played some of their best rugby of the season. With Head and Morgan backed up by Cross and Lancaster driving up the hard yards, this allowed Weobley and Reeves to drive through the opposition midfield and create the space for Ruffel and Glen Wadsworth to put the backs away.
Four second half tries came. Rob Ellis was clinical in finishing a good short side attack converted by Ruffell.
Good work again by Humphrey and supported well Longstaff put Medway further ahead.
Humphrey added the sixth try following good work by Dale Burnley and effective clearing out by Lancaster ,Collins, Drogba and Smith.
The final try of the game was a magnificent breakout from Medway’s own line. Ben Wadsworth broke the line after good work from Kempt and Williams and went the full distance to complete a victory of 49 points to nil.
To the visitors credit they never gave up. Clearly missing a couple of keys players they played their part in providing the spectators a thoroughly entertaining game.
Medway are promoted and will look to cement that promotion by securing the championship in their final game. This has been a great season for the Medway club and they will look to finish in style with the final league game and a cup semi final to play.
For the first time in 2 years Medway found themselves entering a game as favourites. For this Kent Vase quarter final their opponents were a progressive and ambitious Orpington team, who despite being a Kent League 3 team, had already beaten a Kent League 2 team to get to this match and they turned up with the clear aim of upsetting a very young Medway team. Following some recent injuries Medway continued their policy of encouraging the development of local young players by giving 2 youngsters their first team debuts, the youngest being 17 year old Chatham schoolboy Tom Willoughby.
Medway started off strongly, with a searing counter attack from their own half taking them up the field. From the resultant line out Liam Weobley made a typical barnstorming run and the ball quickly reached stand off Glen Wadsworth, who cut through the Orpington defensive line and turned the last defenders inside out to score under the posts. This score was then converted by Daffyd Ruffel.
From this promising start the game lost momentum as the heavy Orpington pack took the game to the Medway pack and there was an error strewn 10 minutes. Orpington earned a penalty, which their skipper calmly converted from 30 yards out. The game continued in disjointed fashion as Orpington stuck gamely to the task and offered stern resistance and it took a good inside break from Willoughby to start another Medway attack, which ended with winger Rob Ellis tackled short of the line. The Orpington defenders illegally stopped the ball coming back and Ruffell calmly kicked the penalty. Just before half time Medway lost their inspirational skipper Dom Collins following an excellent tackle by the Orpington no.8 and were happy to settle for the 10- 3 scoreline.
The 2nd half carried on in similar vein with Medway going close, Rob Ellis hitting the corner post as he tried to squeeze in at the corner, and Orpington refusing to lie down. It was at this point that coach Taff Gwilliam, despite the distractions of the “big match in Cardiff”, made an inspirational substitution. He brought on 2 replacements, one of them being Ben Wadsworth and within 15 seconds of coming on the field he had scored. Credit to the Medway pack as they took the scrum against the head and the ball was shifted quickly to the blindside and Ben Wadsworth glided over for a well worked try, which his brother converted. Medway were now camped in the Orpington half and it was only a matter of time before young Willoughby hit a gap and put Ben Wadsworth in for his 2nd try, which brother Glen again converted.
With a minute to go Medway forced another penalty, which Wadsworth scored – final score 29 –3.
Orpington certainly made it tough for Medway and can hold their heads high and look to the future with confidence. They certainly made the home side realise that they have a lot of work to do if they are to continue with their league ambitions after the Easter break.
Medway travelled to South London on Saturday looking to consolidate their position at the top of the division. With 3 games left and Vigo and Cranbrook chasing hard a win was vital.
Given Medway’s dominance of the previous weeks cup encounter it would have been all too easy to dismiss the Bank side. Previous experience in playing against HSBC meant that Medway knew what a proud club they are and that they were in for a difficult game and so it turned out to be.
HSBC had clearly selected a much changed and heavier, experienced pack and were looking to muscle the younger lighter Medway team out of the game.
With good underfoot conditions but a strong breeze blowing straight down the pitch Medway kicked off playing into the wind. HSBC knocked on from the kick off and Medway had the feed at a scrummage with good field position. The resultant scrum saw Medway driven straight off the ball and the home team drive the ball on then kick for field position. They home side had set the tone of their game plan from the off.
Danny Williams crosses for
the only try of the match
With only 5 minutes gone HSBC were awarded a penalty for offside at the ruck and the home side took the lead 3-0. HSBC continued to kick for field position and then use their heavier forwards to try and punch through the visitors defence. Medway were pinned back and were forced to defend. The back row of Collins, Reeves and Weobley backed up by the new centre pairing of Ben Wadsworth and Williams knocked down the home side runners time after time.
With 20 minutes gone Glen Wadsworth drove his forwards up the field for a rare excursion into the home half. The home defence were forced into touch. Medway won the lineout and drove into midfield were the home side were penalised for offside. Welshman Dafydd Ruffell, on Saint David’s day, kicked Medway level.
The lineout proved to the visitor’s main source of quality possession in the game. With Anthony Cross and Spencer Lancaster dominating that set piece Medway always had a foothold in the game. Billy Humphrey threw well and Mick Head and Andrew Morgan were working manfully to drive the ball up.
Andrew Morgan on the drive
After 32 minutes Medway won a lineout on the half way line. The ball went wide, Rob Ellis went round his marker and drew the cover defence, an inside pass to Danny Williams saw him over the line for Medway score and what turned out to be the only try of the game. This was unconverted.
HSBC came back hard, but once again the visitors defence held firm, Longstaff and Glassey made telling tackles wide. Medway went into half time 8-6 up. HSBC had totally dominated the half but Medway had been given two chances to score on rare breakouts and had taken them.
With the strong wind at their backs Medway looked to dominate field position. However starved of possession at the scrum and with the heavier HSBC forwards picking and driving Medway failed to take advantage of the conditions. Sadly poor decision making and basic errors meant that Medway were under constant pressure.
After 60 minutes Medway were caught handling in the ruck after some defensive indecision in clearing a ball. HSBC kicked the penalty and went ahead deservedly 9-8. Medway knew that their season was on the line and they would have to play in the home half to rescue this match.
Fresh legs were introduced into the match with Smith and Drogba coming on. Medway looked to up the tempo and pin the home side back in their 22. Glen Wadsworth kicked well off the little possession he had and Medway started to maintain good field position. The home side in trying to drive out were penalised for holding on in the ruck. Dafydd Ruffell slotted the kick and Medway led 11-9.
HSBC tried to take the game back to the visitors but Medway were on top defensive form and that is what saw them through to the end of the game and victory.
The young Medway team and been severely tested by the much heavier and experienced HSBC side and come through. HSBC for their part having dominated the forward exchanges in the set piece so much will be disappointed but the visitors organisation saw them claim the vital win.
Medway coach Taff Gwilliam said of his players ‘a sound defence and a good work ethos saw us through this difficult match……we have lessons to learn’.
Medway took on an under strength HSBC side in the first round of the Kent Vase on Sunday and ran out convincing winners by 45 points to 7.
Danny Williams outpaces the cover for his try
In very windy conditions Medway played against the elements and looked to keep the ball and carry it up at the visitors from the start. An early try in the second minute from a well executed blindside move saw winger Rob Ellis go over in the corner. This was unconverted.
Five minutes later another good move off the back row saw Glen Wadsworth go over. This was converted by Dafydd Ruffell and Medway led 12-0. With these early scores it looked as if Medway would power away however the visitors were simply not going to roll over. Their big No 8 well backed up by the scrum half continually caused problems for the home side.
HSBC with the elements in their favour pinned Medway back put could not break their defence.
The only other score of the half came when Wadsworth broke out gathered a kick ahead to put Danny Williams in. Wadsworth converted and Medway led 19-0 at half time.
The second half began with HSBC upping their tempo and carrying the ball up well. They were rewarded for their endeavour when a quickly tapped penalty was broken up by the Medway only for the referee to correctly award a penalty try. This was converted to make the score 19-7.
Rob Ellis gets his hat-trick,
but isn't finished yet
The rest of the half belonged to Medway and the finishing of winger Rob Ellis. Medway having adjusted to deal with the threat of the visitors 8 and 9 dominated possession and territory. Good work from Billy Humphrey, Danny Williams and Steve Smith put Tyler Gee over in the corner to put Medway further ahead 24-7.
With the game safe Medway looked to play exciting expansive Rugby. With the forwards providing an excellent platform Medway put winger Rob Ellis away for a second half trio of tries. All the tries were converted by Dafydd Ruffell and Medway ran out winners by 45 -7.
Medway although pleased to be through to the next round will have only thoughts for next weeks away encounter with the same opposition. The bank side have proven themselves to be a good side when at full strength and with a number of players returning next week Medway are well aware that it will a much more difficult task.
Medway travelled to Footscray on Saturday missing a number of regulars. With work commitments severely disrupting preparation and availability this match was test of the strength in depth of the squad.
Medway fielded a number of youngsters who grew in stature the more time they spent on the field. Rob Longstaff, Mark Krasij, Martin Drogba, Monish Shome and Dave Evans all came into the side and stepped up to the mark.
In very windy but sound underfoot conditions Medway always looked the more dangerous side but could not turn territory and pressure into points. Footscray played with spirit and determination and were a credit to their Vice Presidents who watched after a hearty lunch.
Medway opened the scoring after 15 minutes with a penalty from fly half Glen Wadsworth after Footscray were caught offside at a ruck.
Danny Williams get the first
Although looking dangerous poor decision making and ball retention allowed the home sides line to stay intact. Medway were clearly struggling to provide any continuity to the game. Gradually things started to come together. Some good driving play and quick ball provided by Dominic Collins saw the home side defence stretched, although able to stop Ellis just short of the line, again quick ball saw Danny Williams dive over in the corner for a fine try. Wadsworth kicked the conversion and Medway led 10-0.
Despite the best efforts of both teams neither was able to score again in the half. Medway were guilty of wasting opportunities and Footscray creditably went for the corner rather than kick at goal when the opportunity presented itself.
The second half saw Medway improve their play all round. They played good territory and upped the tempo of the game with quick penalties and more direct running. Footscray hung on. Medway crossed the line twice but
Rob Ellis beats the fullback to score
the referee was genuinely unsighted and could not award the tries. Despite their disappointment Medway continued to drive forward. The pressure had to tell and eventually it did. Ellis rounded off good interplay from both forwards and backs to score. Wadsworth again kicked the conversion and Medway led 17-0.
The final score of the game belonged to Dave Evans. He had a number of fine strong runs and eventually got the reward he deserved when he cut through the home defence to score under the posts. Wadsworth kicked the conversion to make the score 24-0.
That remained the final score. Medway although pleased with the win that keeps them top of the league will be a little disappointed with their continuity and execution. They lacked accuracy and will need to improve in the next few weeks when they take on HSBC in both cup and league.
The final word must go to the home side. They have struggled all season and with some youngsters on show will surely take heart from a spirited performance. They were a credit to their Vice Presidents and supporters who braved the cold wind to watch.
26 January 2008 [Report courtesy of Vigo RFC]
Vigo’s hopes of the League title were severely dented by an inspired Medway performance in front of over 200 supporters on Saturday. Arguably the best two teams in the League put on a display full of skill, commitment and passion. Medway were perhaps inspired by the memory of stalwart Mick Burford, whose funeral was a year ago on Saturday as they overcame stiff resistance by Vigo in a pulsating second half.
Vigo probably should have made more of the wind in the first half but two James Weller penalties were all they had to show, cancelled out by a brace by Medway’s scrum half, Dafydd Ruffell. Vigo attempted to set their dangerous threes free but a smothering home defence were all over Vigo like a cheap suit. One dangerous run by Jamie Caton was halted feet from the line by a brilliant cover tackle by full back Ben Wadsworth, and that was as close as they came. Medway’s radar at the line out was a bit awry, and Vigo frequently got the shove on in the scrummage but Vigo’s attempts at moving the ball were hampered by poor handling and the limpet like qualities of the home side’s defenders. Seconds before the end of the first half, a Medway knock on was scooped up by Luke Spiers with an open field in front of him. Agonisingly, the otherwise excellent referee failed to award the advantage and a golden opportunity was lost.
Immediately into the second half Vigo set up a punishing drive straight up the middle, but lost the ball in contact. A hack downfield saw the ball bounce crazily to wrong foot Vigo’s defence, and Rob Ellis followed up to score the decisive try. From then on, Glen Wadsworth pinned Vigo back deep and invited them to score from there. Vigo strove hard but could not batter through up front, nor get the ball wide to their speedsters. As they grew increasingly more frantic, mistakes and penalties flowed. Medway attacked but equally found Vigo’s defence at their most obdurate. Scoring chances were only from penalty attempts, but unfortunately for the home side, Ruffell missed three kickable chances. Time was running out and the supporters on both sides were becoming more and more frantic. All it needed was a break out by Vigo. One flash of the pace that has brought them over 60 tries this season, but a highly motivated Medway team kept tackling. As Vigo grew more frantic, Medway it seemed grew calmer, none more so than stand off Glen Wadsworth. With time running out, he expertly kicked two towering drop goals late in the match to seal an outstanding win for his young side. Medway seem to be heading back up to the higher Leagues, whilst Vigo, confidence dented, have a few weeks away from League duty to lick their wounds and regather their thoughts.
Head Coach Taff Gwilliam described this as Medway's "poorest performance of the season". The sides are at opposite ends of the table, but second placed Medway may have been surprised by the home side's commitment and determination. Bexley went behind four times and struck back every time, and at the end were disappointed not to have won it.
Pressure from the visitors resulted in an early penalty miss by Daffyd Ruffell, but he made up for it by slotting a more difficult one a few minutes later. Bexley levelled it shortly after with a penalty in front of the posts after an infringement at the ruck.
Medway got the first try of the game after ten minutes. A move through the backs luckily reached Rob Ellis on the wing after a pass from Tyler Gee appeared to rebound off one of the Bexley defenders. Anyhow, it left Ellis in space and he made no mistake.
Bexley responded immediately with an attack down the right wing, and three missed tackles put Medway on the back foot. Bexley forced their way over after a series of rucks near the line to make it 8 - 8.
Medway scored again by using the heavy brigade. A charge by Billy Humphrey was stopped a few metres out, but Medway recycled, and it was veteran Mick Head who eventually made the line with the help of fellow prop Andrew Morgan. Ruffell converted and Medway had a seven point lead.
If Medway had led into half time the result might have been different, but with the last play of the half Bexley scored by spreading it wide after drawing in the Medway defence. The conversion went in off the post and the sides turned round level at 15 - 15, giving Bexley a well-deserved confidence boost for the second half.
Medway's game was ragged and disjointed after half time. Little pressure was put on the Bexley defence, and errors and a lack of precision were evident. Medway went ahead from another Ruffell penalty, but there was very little joy otherwise for the small band of travelling support, who may have detected some complacency in their team's play.
If so, it was shattered when Medway had two players sin-binned late in the game, one for fighting and another for backchat. Down to 13 men Medway were immediately pegged back in their own 22 and it was only a matter of time before an infringement gave Bexley the opportunity to level the scores with the boot. Medway hung on with a tenacity that would have won them the game had they displayed it earlier, and once their full complement were restored they drove the home side back.
With the last kick of the game Glen Wadsworth tried a drop goal that would have won it, but it missed by inches, and the truth was that Medway didn't deserve to pinch the game.
Taff Gwilliam said afterwards "Bexley deserve the credit for making it difficult for us. We made too many basic errors and paid the price. Bexley may not have had the best of seasons but they were really up for this one, played really well and caused us plenty of problems."
Medway remain in second place in Kent 2 but are now a point behind the leaders Vigo, who visit Priestfields for the top of the table clash next week. The game has also been chosen as the Michael Burford Memorial Match, in memory of one of Medway RFC's greatest servants who sadly died a year ago, and the club is hoping for a big crowd.
Medway’s great cup run came to an end on Saturday at the hands of a very powerful and experienced team from Cheshunt. The match was watched by a good sized crowd who were treated to a typically exciting cup tie which either side could have won.
Medway’s cause was not helped when influential flanker Liam Weobley twisted a knee in the pre match warm up and was unable to play.
The match kicked off and Medway were immediately pinned back and forced to concede a penalty only yards from their own line two minutes into the game. A quick tap penalty saw the visitors No 8 Joel Bailey crash over. Tim McSherry converted and Cheshunt had the dream start.
Despite the early shock Medway came back into the game. The lineout provided the platform with good work from Anthony Cross and Billy Humphrey giving the half backs, Dafydd Ruffel and Glen Wadsworth, the platform they need to get the team on the front foot.
Medway secured field position and were awarded two penalties. Ruffel pulled the first one to side of the posts but after 22 mintutes made no mistake with his second chance and Medway were behind 7-3. Medway continued to try and play an expansive game and stretch their visitors, but were set back when Captain Dominic Collins suffered a rib injury and had to leave the field. He was replaced by colt Glen Stapleton.
After 34 minutes Medway despite the loss of the captain continued to take the game to Cheshunt. Medway attacked successively up one side repeatedly. The visitors defence were sucked in. Good ball from the forwards was quickly recycled Glen Wadsworth cross kicked and winger Simon Rumsey gathered the ball well and went over in the corner. Dafydd Ruffel landed the difficult conversion and Medway led 10-7.
Cheshunt were stung into action and they started to keep the ball tighter in amongst their heavier stronger forwards. Medway’s lighter pack were now being subjected to enormous pressure but they continued to hang in. Andrew Morgan and Mick Head battled manfully against their powerful opponents.
Half time came and Medway turned round 10-7 up. The second half kicked off and Medway looked to play territory. Good work by James Reeves and Steve Smith after 48 minutes took Medway forward and Cheshunt were penalised for handling in the ruck. Dafydd Ruffel kicked the penalty and Medway went further ahead 13-7.
The match kicked off again and Cheshunt continued to use their heavier forwards. The Medway pack began to tire and were driven back at every set piece. The lineout platform fell away with a series of errors and unnecessary penalties. Cheshunt with the upper hand in the scrummage, although awarded a penalty, opted for the scrum and drove over for the push over try. This was unconverted and made the score 13-12.
The match resumed with a penalty for indiscipline from the Medway team. The ball was kicked deep into Medway territory and the pressure was maintained. A series of lineouts were well defended initially. This forced the opposition to move the ball out then Medway, who had defended manfully for long periods of the game, fell off a series of tackles and Cheshunt scored the softest of tries. This was unconverted but the visitors now led 17-13.
Medway tried to come back into the game but the visitors bigger stronger pack strangled the life out of Medway and starved of possession could not get the vital score to see them home.
Cheshunt were the deserved victors. They were bigger, stronger and more experienced but despite this Medway had the opportunity to steal this game but a mad 5 minutes of indiscipline after the hour mark cost them the match. Nevertheless it has been a tremendous cup run having defeated a number of higher ranked teams along the way.
Coach Taff Gwilliam said ‘The team and the club can take credit from a great cup run. Cheshunt were worthy winners on the day and we wish them the very best of luck in the rest of the tournament. We have to learn lessons from today about physicality and discipline and take them into our league programme. We will be a better squad for it’
Medway entertained long time league leaders Cranbrook at Priestfields on Saturday looking to avenge their only competitive defeat of the season. Cranbrook defeated Medway 12-0 on the season's opening day and the home side were keen to not only exact revenge but also maintain their challenge for league honours.
Cranbrook started the game much the livelier side with a strong wind at their backs. They pinned the home side back in their 22 for the opening 15 minutes but could not press the territorial advantage home. Time and again good defence forced key turnovers, Collins and Weobley both prominent. Medway were able to clear their lines with the boot of the Wadsworth brothers.
As the half progressed the Medway forwards started to gain an advantage in the contact areas. Shaw, Humphrey and Morgan provided the much needed platform for Ruffel and Glen Wadsworth to orchestrate the Medway attacks.
Daffyd Ruffel kicks the first
of his three penalties
The opening score of the match came after 22 minutes when the visitors back line was caught offside at a scrummage. Dafydd Ruffel kicked the penalty and Medway led 3-0.
Despite the best efforts of both sides neither could break the others defence down. Both back rows were particularly effective at the breakdowns in slowing the attacking side’s ball.
Halftime came with the home side maintaining their slender advantage.
The second half began much brighter. Medway with Cross and Lancaster, getting the better of their opponents, ensured good field position. James Reeves carried the ball at the visiting back line continually testing them and making good ground. From one such ruck created by Reeves and supported well by Williams, Cranbrook were penalised for hands in. Ruffel was once again accurate and Medway were 6-0 ahead.
Cranbrook would not lie down. Fly half Catt was always looking to release his backs but good pressure and defence from Williams, Tyler Gee and Rob Ellis kept the visitors in check.
Medway continually played the territory game and were somewhat unfortunate when Reeves drove over after a series of rucks only for the referee to disallow it being unsighted. But Medway continued to press.
Medway claim the try but the
referee is unsighted
After 53 minutes Cranbrook were once again penalised by the referee for offside at the ruck and Ruffel duly punished them with yet another accurate penalty kick. Medway were now crucially two scores ahead and with time running out Cranbrook were forced to be more expansive from deeper.
Cranbrook looked to put width on the ball every time they gained possession but Ben Wadsworth, Simon Rumsey and Rob Ellis were always up to the defensive task.
With 15 minutes remaining the Medway coach Taff Gwilliam introduced fresh legs to the home side to maintain the pressure and up the tempo on the visitors. Rob Longstaff and Dale Burnley were immediately impactive making solid tackles and providing a telling boost.
Cranbrook never gave up and battled hard to get the vital score they need to give them a chance but the home Captain, Dominic Collins, marshalled his players well and the tight game was secured in Medway’s favour.
The home coach Taff Gwilliam was particularly pleased with the result. ‘I am delighted, a number of areas that we need to show improvement in shone through today…to keep a clean sheet was a tremendous effort on the part of the whole squad…Cranbrook were a tough side, this is a tremendous boost for this young team’.
This weekend saw all four top sides in the league face each other so the winners were always going to finish the first half of the season on a high and in a good position. Both these teams, Medway and Sheppey, knew how important the result was to their respective promotion drives.
Glen Wadsworth goes through and
scores under the posts
Medway ran out winners in the end by 22 points to 11 however the score did not reflect how close the game was. Sheppey looked the hungrier side at the start and deserved their 3-0 lead following Medway being caught offside at the ruck. Both sides tried to move the ball wide when the opportunity presented itself but neither could finish.
It was Medway who scored next when an incisive break by Glen Wadsworth saw him clean through and go over. The try was unconverted and Medway led 5-3. Sheppey responded with another penalty for a scrummage infringement to retake the lead 6-5. `
Medway then began to assert their authority in the set piece. Good throwing from Billy Humphrey found his jumpers in Spencer Lancaster and Anthony Cross. From this platform Medway drove the ball and dominated field position. From a succession of drives Dale Burnley eventually drove over for an unconverted try and Medway regained the lead 10-6 which they held going into half time.
Dale Burnley scores after sustained
pressure on the Sheppey line
The second half saw Sheppey again start well and a try in the corner was fitting reward for good work by the forwards and Peter King. This was the spur the home side needed. With the home crowd getting vocally behind their team they gradually started to get control of the game. Sheppey’s cause was not helped when their second row had to be carried from the field and replaced. Good field position saw a succession of penalty awards as Medway started to dominate the contact areas.
As the second half wore on, those penalties told. Glen Wadsworth although missing earlier efforts landed two in quick succession and Medway led 16-11. The forwards with Reeves, Morgan and Collins showing up well produced good quick ball and Wadsworth then landed a smartly taken drop goal and Medway were two scores ahead 19-11.
Sheppey to their credit made changes and tried to get back into it but good defence from Ruffel, Glassey, Gee, Ellis and Kempt ensured no last minute reprieves.
The match was fittingly ended on another penalty which was converted by Wadsworth to make the final score 22-11. Both sides tried to play good rugby but nether could get the continuity they craved.
Medway were relieved to win this tight match and go into the Christmas break the happier of the two clubs. They however are mindful that they need to improve for the visit of contenders Cranbrook on January 5th.
Medway defied the odds and the weather conditions to record a memorable win against Park House of the first division in the EDF Junior Vase at Priestfields on Saturday.
Playing against the strong wind and rain in the first half Medway soon found themselves behind. Within 6 minutes Medway had conceded a penalty for offside and then succumbed to a well executed catch and drive from the visitors to fall 8-0 behind. The bigger more powerful visitors looked to be in total control and were looking to take advantage of the conditions at their back.
The next 34 minutes saw Medway’s young side play their best controlled rugby of the season. Medway secured possession and with a series of pick and drives, rolling mauls, and strong running, Dayne Glassey playing at inside centre particularly effective. Medway retained the ball for huge periods denying the visitors the platform they craved. When the kick did come in from Glen Wadsworth or brother Ben the defender was under pressure on the ground from the effective chase of Rob Ellis, Geoff Kempt and Simon Rumsey.
When the ball did go into touch Anthony Cross pressured the throw and forced the turnover on a number of occasions. By retaining the ball for such long periods Medway were able to gain good field position. Park house began conceding penalties at the contact areas. Medway ran the penalties keeping the ball tight. Liam Weobley, James Reeves and Dominic Collins were always at the forefront of these drives. Eventually one such penalty conceded was in kicking range and Dafydd Ruffel was successful in very difficult conditions. Medway were behind 8-3.
Spencer Lancaster drives through to the line
From the kick off Medway continued to play the controlled ball retention tactics they had planned. Park House just could not get their hands on the ball. Mick Head, Andrew Morgan and Bill Humphrey grew in stature as the half progressed. They cleared out and drove well to ensure the possession. With 5 minutes of the half left Medway got the ultimate reward. The forwards had won great field position when Spencer Lancaster picked and drove 10 yards out from the visitors line he beat two defenders to dive over and put Medway level.
The conversion was missed but this capped a magnificent half of controlled possession. Medway went in at 8-8.
The second half saw Medway with the elements at their back. An early penalty from Ruffel put Medway ahead 11-8. However the visitors from division one were not going to lie down. They looked to run the ball at every opportunity. Their reward was a penalty when Medway were once again caught offside. This drew them level.
The last twenty minutes saw Medway dominate field position. They were awarded a number of penalties, one of which all but the referee were convinced went over. Agonisingly these kicks just missed the upright. With virtually the last play, James Reeves picked up a loose ball from a turnover attacked the narrow side at the resultant ruck Park House were caught handling. Dayffyd Ruffel stepped up and slotted the last kick of the game to seal a tremendous victory for Medway.
Medway travelled away to their rivals on Saturday looking to maintain their good recent form. This was an important match for both teams, as they strove to stay in contention for league honours.
The visitors kicked off and soon Brocks were awarded a penalty for offside at a ruck. This was converted and the home side led 3-0. Medway very shortly afterwards responded with a penalty from Dafydd Ruffel for an identical offence to tie it up at 3-3.
With 15 minutes Brocks’ South African second row, a stand out player, who had already been warned by the referee, was seen committing an act of deliberate foul play and was immediately red carded. This was a major blow to the home side. The dismissed player had been performing well leading the home side pack.
From the resulting penalty Medway kicked to the corner. From the lineout Humphrey found his jumper and the pack drove over, James Reeves getting the vital touchdown. Ruffel added the difficult conversion into the strong wind, and Medway led 3 - 10.
Medway continued to try and take advantage of the extra man. From a scrum just outside Brocks' 22m Tyler Gee found a hole in the home defence and ran through for a well taken try. Ruffel again kicked well to convert and put Medway 3- 17 up.
Medway had taken control of the game, but Brocks with the wind at their backs did not simply roll over. They showed character and tried to play rugby. From a good kick to the corner 5m out, Medway made a simple error and Brocks pounced on it to score. The try was unconverted to leave the half time score at 8 - 17.
The second half should have been all Medway's with the wind behind them and the home side reduced to 14 men. It was not. Medway collectively produced their worst 40 minutes of rugby in a year. Brockleians, to their credit, battled for everything and despite the handicaps played much the better rugby.
For the record there was only one score in the second half and that rightly went to the home side who drove over following a series of rucks and penalties inside the Medway half with 12 minutes to go. The try was converted to make the score 15 - 17.
Medway kicked deep and kept the home side pinned back to close the game out. The positives for Medway are that they won despite playing so poorly, and it was an away win against a promotion rival.
The plaudits for this match however must go to the 14 players of Brockleians who outfought and out-thought Medway in the second half.
Medway took on HSBC at Priestfields on Saturday looking to maintain their challenge for honours at the top of the division 2 league. The match was played in very windy but good underfoot conditions.
HSBC kicked off with a strong wind at their backs and were very quickly into their stride. Almost from the off they dominated and pinned Medway back on their line. With the game just 5 minutes old HSBC scored the opening try when after a series of rucks they drove over to score a well deserved try. This was converted and the visitors led 7-0
Rob Ellis crosses the line for the first
Medway came back and looking to retain the ball attacked up keeping the ball tight. Good driving runs by Liam Weobley and Dominic Collins supported well by Monish Shome saw the home side exert pressure on the visitors. After 15 minutes Medway got their first score when Collins and Matt Jackson combined to put Rob Ellis over in the corner. This was unconverted.
Medway continued to retain possession working off loads and drives to secure field position against the strong wind. Glen Wadsworth mixed the attacks up using his centres and back row to ball carry. After 20 minutes the visitors defence was stretched and full back Ben Wadsworth hit the line at pace and crashed over. Brother Glen kicked the conversion and Medway led 12-7.
Ben Wadsworth gets the ball down
for Medway's third try
The final score of the first half was slightly bizarre. Medway were awarded a penalty. Glen Wadsworth struck the ball but it just drifted wide and held up in the wind. The visitors defence thinking it would go out let it bounce and Ellis following up grabbed the try deep in goal. This was unconverted and Medway led 17-7 at the half.
With the wind behind them the home crowd were looking for Medway to totally dominate the game. However HSBC showed good character and tenacity. They battled hard and were always looking to battle out of their half. They kept the home side at bay and when Medway did cross the line and have a try awarded the referee bizarrely changed his mind. It was 20 minutes before Medway added to the score. HSBC were caught handling in a ruck and Glen Wadsworth kicked the penalty to put Medway ahead 20-7.
Medway continued to pile on the pressure. Good work by Spencer Lancaster and Anthony Cross, particularly on the opposition ball, in the lineouts ensured that the visitors were pinned back.
The final try goes to
man of the match Rob Ellis
The final try of the game fittingly went to, man of the match, Rob Ellis. He went over in the corner after good work from the forwards. Andrew Morgan, Billy Humphrey and Mick Head worked hard all day, they secured the possession and with Danny Williams and Tyler Gee assured handling Ellis completed his hat trick.
The last play of the game saw Medway awarded another penalty which Glen Wadsworth kicked to make the final score 28 -7.
Given the number of players missing from the team this was an excellent result for the young Medway squad. HSBC were a solid competitive team and will be formidable opponents for everyone in this league.
Medway moved into the 5th round of the national EDF Energy Junior Vase for the second year running following their defeat of Askeans by 25 points to 10.
Medway continued their remarkable run of success in cup matches over the last two seasons by claiming a sixth victory over higher league opposition.
The match kicked off with Medway playing into a stiff breeze. The first 15 minutes saw the home side play its best rugby of the season to date and in doing so score two early tries. The first virtually involved the whole team. Excellent ball carrying by the forwards with James Reeves and Liam Weobley particularly prominent saw quick ball fed to the backs who attacked wide. Good last ditch tackling by the visitor’s full back prevented the score. Medway quicker to the breakdown recycled the ball through Andrew Morgan and Billy Humphrey. The half backs fed Monish Shome and Geoff Kempt who attacked up the middle. Askeans held on but Spencer Lancaster and Deano Morris cleared out and Captain Dominic Collins picked up and drove over. Dafydd Ruffel converted and |Medway led 7-0.
From the kick off Medway recycled the ball, retained possession and through a series of attacks, orchestrated by Glen Wadsworth on the back of a good platform, pinned the visitors back in their own 22m.
With Medway attacking through the forwards into the wind the visitors defence became narrow and more quick ball from a ruck was fed wide for Ben Wadsworth to put Rob Ellis over in the corner. The conversion was narrowly missed and Medway led 12-0.
Askeans hopes of building on their previous weeks’ victory were in serious jeopardy. Although physically bigger the visitor’s forwards had been caught on the hop. Good leadership from the visitor’s Captain saw Askeans look to build set piece dominance to get back into the game. Slowly but surely they began to get the upper hand in the tight and produce good ball in the lineout, this together with the strong wind at their backs saw them gain good field position. A number of attacks, primarily through the forwards, pinned Medway back. Medway defended well but pressure told in the end and the visitors scored two tries both unconverted. This left the half time score at 12-10 to the home side.
The second half belonged to Medway. Having re-organised their set piece and with the wind at their backs the home side stuck to their game plan and kept the visitors pinned back.
With the scrummage looking more stable, Collins and Mick Head working hard to ensure good ball, Medway played territory and applied pressure at every opportunity. Lancaster turned the visitor’s ball over in the lineout. Billy Humphrey threw well on the home ball and this combined to deny the big visiting forwards the platform they needed to put points on the board.
The pressure told. Good work by Dayne Glassey, Kempt, Reeves and Humphrey was rewarded with two penalties from Ruffel. This put Medway 18-10 ahead. Askeans never gave up and looked to take the game to Medway at every opportunity. Medway with a good solid defence held firm.
The final score of the match belonged to Glen Wadsworth. With ten minutes remaining the forwards won quick ball the Askeans defence was stretched and Wadsworth scythed through outpaced the cover to score an excellent individual try. Ruffel converted to put the score at 25-10.
With players tiring Nick Thomas, Matt Jackson and Luke Burns were put on to maintain the high work ethic and seal a memorable win for the Division 2 side.
Bottom side Foots Cray were the visitors to Priestfields on Saturday in what was always going to be a tough game against an improving Medway side. After the previous weeks nail biting win at Vigo, Medway were keen to establish themselves’ in the top half of the league.
In blustery but excellent underfoot conditions Medway kicked off against the wind and were quickly into their stride. Good physical presence from James Reeves, Mick Head and Liam Weobley caused problems for the visitors and kept them pinned back.
Despite good defensive work, particularly the visitors ten, Medway dominated possession and territory. The set piece platform with Humphrey, Morgan, Cross and Spencer all making significant contributions ensured sufficient ball to create chances.
Medway scored 4 first half tries through Rob Ellis, Tyler Gee and two Billy Humphrey efforts. Glen Wadsworth added the single conversion in difficult kicking conditions. Medway received a blow just before half time when centre Danny Williams was forced to leave the field with a leg injury but nonetheless led at the half by 22-0.
The second half followed a similar pattern, Medway dominated the contact and set piece areas and a steady flow of good ball ensued. Further tries came, two from winger Dayne Glassey either side of the try of the match when Glen Wadsworth and brother Ben Wadsworth combined to score under the posts following a break back on the home 22m line.
To Foots Cray’s credit they never gave up and were competitive throughout. They showed excellent team spirit and when given the opportunity for a simple three points took the positive step of going for the try to their credit.
Medway continued to dominate. Tries from Monish Shome , Rob Ellis again and a superb solo effort from Anthony Cross completed the scoring. Only two more conversions were added and Medway ran out deserving winners by 56 points to 0.
This was a pleasing win for Medway and with a number of injured players due to return over the next few weeks ensures good competition for places and optimism for the rest of the season,
Medway travelled to top of the table Vigo knowing a second defeat would put their ambitions for promotion in jeopardy even at this early stage of the season. Vigo had started the season well with successive wins and were keen to maintain their unbeaten run.
Medway with a number of players missing called on the strength of the squad to try and see them through this difficult fixture. Their preparations were further hampered with flanker Monish Shome twisting an ankle in the warm up. Winger Dayne Glassey stepped in with young colt Luke Burns taking his place on the wing.
From the kick off Vigo gained possession and with their tails up attacked Medway with short runners off the rucks but Medway held firm and gradually gained a foothold in the match. The front row of Andrew Morgan, Dominic Collins and Mick head started to put their counterparts under pressure and this provided the platform for Medway to play Rugby in the Vigo half. An early penalty chance went narrowly wide.
The match ebbed and flowed and in the end it was an error which provided the opening score. After 22 minutes, Vigo had kicked deep into the Medway 22. A lineout to Medway ensued but the normally reliable Anthony Cross allowed the ball to slip from his hands, Vigo gathered the loose ball for Chris Judson to drive over. Stuart Spears converted and Vigo led 7-0.
Within 2 minutes of the restart Medway were awarded a penalty for an infringement at a ruck and Dafydd Ruffel kicked it to make the score 7-3. With Medway edging the front row battle and young Spencer Lancaster stealing Vigo ball in the lineout Medway were in the ascendancy. A number of handling moves between Glen Wadsworth, Danny Williams and Tyler Gee put Rob Ellis away one on one a number of times but the Vigo full back showed excellent defensive skills with some great last ditch tackles to keep Ellis out.
Despite Medway having the edge the half time whistle came and the home side held on to their 7-3 lead.
The second half saw both sides looking to play expansive rugby and entertain the well supported match. 15 minutes into the second half Medway put Ellis away again and again the home fullback hauled him down just short of the line but this time Medway full back Geoff Kempt was on hand to take a fine pop out of the tackle to score. The try was unconverted but Medway had their noses in front.
Within five minutes Medway further increased their lead. Some good lead up work from Anthony Cross, James Reeves, Luke Burns and Glen Wadsworth saw Medway gain excellent field position. Medway were then awarded a scrummage 10 yards from the Vigo line. Tarquin Humphrey picked up from the base drew the defender and put Dafydd Ruffel over in the corner for a well executed try. This was unconverted and Medway led 13-7.
Medway looked to kill the game off and broke the home defensive line on a number of occasions only for the home side’s back 3 to make some quality tackles. Vigo knowing they were only one score down threw everything they had into snatching victory. Medway had a number of opportunities to clear their lines but Vigo kept the pressure on and Medway were pinned back. Spears missed a very kickable penalty with 6 minutes remaining. Medway looked to clear deep from the 22 but the ever dangerous Jamie Caton gathered the ball, beat his marker cut inside to score a fine individual try to make the score 13-12 with the conversion to come.
The normally reliable Spears lined his conversion attempt but, agonisingly for the home team and supporters, pushed it narrowly passed the upright. Medway were still ahead. The referee announced 4 minutes of injury time and despite the best efforts of the home team they could not gain that vital score they needed.
Medway were victorious, Vigo lost their unbeaten record but it was hard to say who deserved the victory more after such a pulsating and entertaining game. Medway coach Taff Gwilliam said ‘ I am not sure whether we won it or Vigo contrived to lose it….the conversion was everything in the end’
Medway face Footscray next week at Priestfield looking to consolidate their position among the front runners in the league.
20 October 2007
Medway took on close rivals from last season, Bexley, at their Priestfields ground on Saturday. In glorious conditions Medway were looking to get their league programme on track after a narrow defeat away to Cranbrook in the first game. The match was played in excellent spirit by both sides as each team looked to play good rugby.
It was clear from the opening exchanges that Medway were looking the stronger team. Sound set pieces backed up by some good handling stretched the visitors several times early on. Bexley tackled well and kept Medway at bay. The breakthrough came from a lineout. Medway caught and drove and No 8 Humphreys touched down to give the home side the lead they deserved. The conversion was missed but Medway led 5-0.
Medway continued to press the Bexley line and dominated field position Andrew Morgan, Liam Weobley and Dominic Collins were particularly strong in the contact areas. Bexley though defended with vigour and kept the home side out. The next score did not come until the half hour mark. Bexley were penalised at the ruck and Dafydd Ruffell kicked the resultant penalty to put Medway ahead 8-0.
Shortly afterward a brilliant set piece move saw winger Simon Rumsey put away to score only for the try to be disallowed for a foot in touch. Bexley were still in game. Medway were struggling to put the points on the board that their play deserved. At half time Medway brought on veteran Simon Shaw for the injured Deano Morris. At the beginning of the second half scrum half Rob Longstaff was forced to leave the field with an ankle injury. This forced a re-shuffle with Rumsey going in at 9 and James Rutherford coming onto the wing.
With disruption in both the forwards and the backs Bexley took the opportunity to take the game to Medway. The visitors dominated the first 10 minutes of the second half. Medway were forced to defend their line repeatedly. Eventually the pressure told and Bexley were awarded a penalty for offside almost in front of the posts. Amazingly the resultant kick came off the upright and Bexley’s lifeline into the game was gone.
Medway opened their second half scoring after 55minutes when good work from Geoff Kempt and Simon Rumsey put winger Dayne Glassey away who went over in the corner. Ruffell added the conversion and Medway were ahead 15-0. Shortly afterwards Ruffell added a penalty to make the score 18-0. To the credit of the visitors they never gave up. Led by their captain and scrum half they were always looking for a way back into the game but it was not to be.
Medway were gaining the upper hand. Danny Williams and Tyler Gee both went close in the last quarter. Gee being held up over line. Medway pounded the line but a lack of patience squandered a number of good opportunities. The match was finally put beyond doubt when Ruffell launched a high up and under, Gee and Monish Shome pressured and forced the turnover, good hands from Kempt and Rutherford put Williams away for a well taken try. This was unconverted but Medway now led 23-0.
With 6 minutes remaining prop Mick Head left the field after a solid scrimmaging performance to be replaced by young David French.
The final score of the match belonged to the forwards. Dominic Collins found his jumper Weobley, the ball was secured, and the forwards drove for the line. Bexley defended and tried to disrupt the drive but good control from French allowed young Spencer Lancaster to make the final score. The try was unconverted to leave the final result at 28-0 to Medway.
13 October 2007
This third round match saw the Division 2 team, Medway, take on the Dartfordians club from Division 1 in perfect playing conditions at Priestfields on Saturday.
Underdogs Medway immediately looked to take the game to the visitors. Strong scrummaging led by the returning Head saw the home side dominate the initial exchanges. The first score of the match came within 5 minutes. Rob Longstaff converted a penalty awarded for Dartfordians being offside at a ruck in front of their posts.
Medway’s cause was then disrupted. Head picked up a cut to the face at a scrummage after the ball had gone necessitating him to retire from the game. This caused a re-shuffle in the pack which took young prospect Dean Morris up to tight head and Peter Farrow on into the back row.
Both teams tried to play an expansive game and this made for a good spectacle for the spectators. The next score came off the training ground. A well executed backs move from quick ball provided by the Medway forwards saw centre Danny Williams break the visitors' line. He was then able to put winger Dane Glassey over for the try. Longstaff added the conversion and Medway led 10-0.
Medway continued to dominate - Billy Humphrey and Monish Shome carried the ball up providing a good platform. Captain Dominic Collins marshalled his team well. A further penalty from Longstaff for handling in the ruck by the visitors following good work from Liam Weobley and Morris extended Medway’s lead to 13-0.
Dartfordians were simply not going to lie down. They looked to up the physicality of the match and try and upset the younger Medway team. However, the home forwards, with Dean Morris, Liam Weobley and Andrew Morgan outstanding, stood up to the visitors.
Dartfordians deservedly provided the only other score of the half when good work by their fly half eventually put their winger away to score out wide. This was converted to make the half time score 13-7.
The second half was a tense affair. Fullback Rumsey was forced to leave the field with a leg injury to be replaced by Ben Wadsworth.
Most of the play was in midfield where both sides
were trying to gain the upper hand. Danny Williams and Tyler Gee matched
everything that was thrown at them. Good play from Liam Weobley, Monish
Shome and Spencer Lancaster saw vital opposition ball turned over in the
In the set piece Anthony Cross stole or disrupted a number of the opposition lineouts. He was well supported by Lancaster. Dartfordians just could not get the platform they needed to get back into the game.
Medway were awarded three penalties in quick succession just inside the visitors half but all three, well struck, narrowly missed the upright keeping the visitor’s hopes alive.
The only score of the second half came when a high up and under was missed by the visitors' fullback, pressure from Gee and Williams saw the ball go loose, and Rob Ellis gathered it and went over. Longsstaff converted and Medway led by 20-7.
Dartfordians threw everything they could at the Division two side but despite creating opportunities out wide great cover, particularly on one occasion, from Anthony Cross supported by Williams kept the home line intact for a fine victory.
The home coach, Taff Gwilliam, was very pleased as the level of performance from the team, which has improved week on week and particularly in the targeted areas.
Medway travelled to Cranbrook on Saturday in the first round of the Kent Division 2 league matches this season. The match proved to be a very tight affair played in excellent weather and underfoot conditions.
Medway without an entire front row and a number of other injuries gave a much improved performance on the previous week's cup victory despite losing. Both sides tried to play with width and this made for a good spectacle.
With Cranbrook having dominance in the scrummage Medway were always playing off the back foot and this limited the amount of quality ball available. Despite this, Medway were able to threaten the home line for consistent periods based on good lineout ball from Anthony Cross and Dominic Collins. However the excellent defence by the home team, the back row particularly, denied them.
The match remained scoreless until the 30th minute when Cranbook won a scrum on the half way line. A well worked blindside move saw the home winger put away to score an excellent try. This was unconverted. Medway came back with some strong running from the forwards with Weobley and Morris particularly prominent.
The home side’s well-organised defence held out. Medway went to the half only 5-0 down. Given the home side's dominance in the scrummage this gave Medway heart and belief that they could steal something from the match.
The second half was as a tight as the first. Either side could have won the game. The visitors playing off the back foot looked to go wide and stretch Cranbrook. There were a number of good attacks with Tyler Gee particularly adept at putting Ellis and Rumsey away however the home side's cover defence was up to the task.
The visitors put themselves in a number of good attacking positions but these were undermined by a number of penalties and the lack of set piece dominance.
Both sides looked to put the game beyond the other. It was Cranbrook who succeeded. It was a little fortunate for them that the referee was unsighted when the home side's midfield knocked on in the middle of some excellent continuity play. However they did breach the visitors' line to score the decisive try. The score was converted and the home side led 12-0.
Medway looked to run the ball from deep. Rob Longstaff looked to up the tempo and try and get the visitors back in the game but the home side held strong and took the victory.
Despite missing some key players this was a good performance. Medway will need to work on their set piece and reduce the penalty count if they are to put wins on the board in this tougher league than last season. Nevertheless there were a lot of positives to be pleased about. The lineout and structure was much improved on the previous week's poor display.
Pictures by Gerald Farrow
Medway travelled the very short distance to face their local rivals Williamsonians in this round 2 match, keen to get more rugby under their belt with the league programme commencing next week.
The match kicked off in ideal playing conditions. Williamsonians started well with their No 8 particularly prominent carrying the ball and creating short targets for his forwards to ruck over. The home side then looked to go wide but Medway’s defence was resolute.
As the game started to develop it was clear that Medway were stronger up front and this was eventually to prove decisive. This apart, the sides seemed evenly matched. Medway’s lineout misfired and they were unable to provide the platform for the backs to play.
They did however go ahead when the home side were penalised at a ruck in their own 22. Dafydd Ruffel kicked the penalty to give the visitors a 3-0 lead.
The best early chance fell to Glen Wadsworth who, having broken the home line and with no one to beat, amazingly lost control of the ball with the line at his mercy.
Medway did eventually score when a good drive by the forwards, with Liam Weobley, Billy Humphrey and Deano Morris prominent, saw quick ball provided and Wadsworth put Danny Williams away to score under the posts. Ruffel added the conversion and Medway led 10-0.
Any thoughts of dominating the game by the visitors were quickly dispelled. Needless penalties saw field position given away and Williamsonians took the opportunity to press the visitor’s line. Some quality last-ditch defence by Andrew Morgan, Simon Rumsey, Dane Glassey, Monish Shome and Dominic Collins kept the home side out when a try seemed inevitable.
Medway soon after lost scrum-half Ruffel with a leg injury and he was replaced by Rob Longstaff.
With Medway unable to dominate their own ball at the lineout it was important that the home side were not allowed to take control. Anthony Cross, assisted well by Mick Head and Andrew Morgan, did well to steal a number of the home sides throws.
The second half was a scrappy affair with neither side able to dominate their own ball at the lineout and a number of unforced handling errors, particularly by the visitors, meant play was very disjointed.
One the few quality moments of the second half came from the visitors when, having gone through phases showing good ball retention, the ball was moved wide by Wadsworth, Richard Bates and Tyler Gee to put winger Rob Ellis away. He broke his opposite number's tackle and went outside the cover only to lose control of the ball as he went over the line.
The decisive try came after 20 minutes of the second half from a scrum. The home side lost control of their own put in and Medway showed good control to drive over with No 8 Billy Humphrey getting the vital touchdown. The conversion was missed. Medway led 15-0 and the home side now needed three scores.
Williamsonians needing points upped the tempo. They looked to run at every opportunity. With fresh legs on for visitors in the form of Spencer Lancaster and Mark Krasij, Medway met the challenge. Krasij unfortunately was soon forced to leave the field with a head injury following an accidental clash.
Medway closed the game out despite some spirited play from the home side. Both sides will look to improve on this performance for the rest of the season. Medway will need to work hard on their lineout and ball retention skills if they are to survive in the higher league this season.
All the visiting coach Taff Gwilliam would say is “We have a lot of work to do!”