Medway with promotion already secured took on third placed Folkestone in the final league match of the season. In good playing conditions and in front of a large crowd the visitors ran out deserved winners by 34 - 31.
The home coach, Taff Gwilliam, would not use the excuse of the injury list. He said “ Folkestone thoroughly deserve their victory, they were motivated, committed and wanted the win. I made changes and thought we put out a good enough side to win. That was not the case. They (Folkestone) were better on the day.”
Medway started poorly and never recovered they were outplayed by a sharper and more dynamic Folkestone.
There were some positives for Medway however, Second row Ben Johnson who went to No 8 and performed well as did Paul Morant having his first start at hooker. Fly half Glenn Wadsworth proved he can stand in at 9 with a solid performance in his unaccustomed position. Also James Dance, playing at 7 for the first time, improved as the game wore on.
Folkestone attacked with purpose and after only 15 minutes were 17-0 ahead. As the game wore on Medway managed to sneak in front by a point at 26-25 but Folkestone were not going to be denied and with Will Massey and Richard Lama driving the visitors on they secured the victory.
Medway will re-group and prepare for the Kent Plate Final against Tonbridge Juddians at Priestfields on 29th April. Bill Sandison, Bill Humphrey, Doug Ebanks and Roger Rhyneart should all have recovered by then and be available for consideration. Good news for the club is that Rob Longstaff and Sam Garofalo have both had successful surgery and are on the road to recovery.
Medway entertained London 1 side Dover at Priestfields under lights on Tuesday evening for a place in the Kent Plate final. In the previous round the home side narrowly beat another London 1 side Thanet Wanderers so were under no illusions as to the magnitude of the task.
Medway, like Dover, were missing a couple of players. James Dance, Bill Sandison, Wayne Clayton and Douglas Ebanks were all unavailable and sadly Liam Weobley was injured in the warm up. These days Medway have a stronger squad and this would be a stern test.
The match kicked off in front of a good sized crowd and was very evenly contested. Both packs battled for superiority in the set piece and it was a set piece from which the first try came. Medway had a scrummage just outside Dover’s 22m. The front five provided the platform for a well worked training ground move which saw Sam Catlin slice through Dover’s defence and score the opening unconverted try.
On 15 minutes Dover were penalised for offside at a ruck and Jim Birnage converted to increase the lead to 8-0. Dover came back and pressed strongly with Cooper and Tonks prominent up front. Ryan Davidson and Ben Vick looked to carry the ball up and Ben Crawford provided the ball for Greg Phillips to gain good field position with his trusty left boot.
Dover deservedly were next to score. A good driving maul saw them go over out wide and Phillips landed the difficult conversion from the touchline to make the score 8-7.
Medway continued to take the game to their opponents and just before half time were rewarded with a penalty for not releasing the player and Jim Birnage added the points to make it 11-7 at half time to the home side.
The second half was as tight as the first. Both sides cancelled each other out and were unable to get on top. Eventually the visitors strong forwards provided the quality ball the backs sought and were rewarded with a try out side and again Phillip landed the difficult conversion to put Dover ahead 14-11.
Medway looked to play with width at every opportunity and within 5 minutes were back in front. Fullback Will Alkin gathered a Dover clearance kick in the backfield and attacked wide he kicked through for Catlin to chase. Dover’s covering defence failed to deal with the loose ball which Catlin gathered and outpaced the visitors back row to score the unconverted try.
Medway then managed to close the game out by retaining possession and frustrating their visitors thus securing the victory. Dover were very sporting in their praise for Medway after the game despite the disappointment of the loss.
For Medway they have secured the opportunity of playing in a County final on their home ground in a season where promotion has already been achieved.
The County finals day take place on 29th April at Priestfields, Rochester
The two promoted teams of this Division met on Saturday to mark the opening of Crowborough’s new clubhouse and to still contest who would go up as Champions.
A large crowd were treated to both sides minis providing the pre match entertainment. They then watched a pulsating match in which the result was still uncertain until the final whistle went. Both teams were keen to play 15 man rugby and everyone was treated to a great day out.
Crowborough opened the scoring first when they intercepted on the half way line to go over under the posts. The damage was limited to 5 points when Rob Ellis charged down the conversion attempt.
Medway responded quickly. With 12 minutes gone on the clock a lineout on the home sides 22m line saw Medway attack the home sides midfield. Medway’s, man of the match, James Dance at the heart of everything. The visitors committed the home defence and created the space out wide for Glenn Wadsworth to put Sam Catlin way to score an unconverted try in the corner and level the scores.
Medway then dominated the game for the rest of the half in a hard fought match. The forwards carried strongly. Liam Weobley, Ross Cooley and Ben Johnson prominent. Ian Flatt and Bill Humphrey providing the close support
Prop Liam Johnson scored his first and second ever tries as a Medway player when he drove over from short range on 24 and 35 minutes. Both tries were replicas of each other with Medway carrying strongly going through the phases stretching the home defence then punching through with quick ball. Jim Birnage converted one to put Medway 17 points to 5 ahead at half time.
The second half began with Medway on the attack and they were rewarded when Ben Johnson joined his brother on the score sheet. The second row used good footwork and crashed over out wide for an unconverted try and a 22-5 lead.
The home side were stung. The large crowd were a little quiet. But Nick Oldham’s team are not top for without foundation. Medway gave a loose penalty away in midfield. Crowborough kicked for the corner and executed a fine catch and drive for an unconverted try making the score 22-10.
Crowborough grew in confidence and were rewarded with their second try on the hour mark. Both sides were playing high tempo rugby looking to stretch each other in a very even second half.
On 65 minutes Medway were awarded a penalty following good work from Wayne Clayton, Simon Green and Roger Rhyneart. Jim Birnage kicked the penalty to stretch the lead to 25 -15.
With 15 minutes remaining Medway began to tire. Poor game management gave the home side the opportunity the craved and Crowborough raised their game with the home support now really getting behind their team.
Medway conceded two late converted tries. Crowborough having been dominated for most the match were clinical in their finishing against a tiring Medway side in the last 10 minutes. Crowborough attacked from deep with good width and secured the victory with two fine tries to the absolute delight of the home crowd.
Medway were denied the double over Crowborough and Crowborough were crowned worthy Champions of the league. Both sides showed showed respect for each other and look forward to locking horns again next season in the higher league.
Medway secured promotion to London South East Division 2 with a hard fought victory over a much improved Bromley side in front of a large crowd. Bromley, victors over Medway’s promotion rivals Folkestone last week, came to Priestfields looking to add another scalp to their improving season.
The game kicked off with the breeze at Medway’s back and they were soon pressing the visitor’s line. A series of phases saw the visitors desperately trying to organise their defence but James Dance was sharp and scampered through to score near the posts. Jim Birnage converted for Medway to lead 7-0.
The resultant kick off saw a home error and Bromley seized the opportunity to clinically finish and narrow the deficit to 7-5 with an unconverted try.
Medway were stunned but gradually started to exert pressure on the visitors. Bromley conceded a number of penalties in a short space of time but managed to keep their line intact.
On 19 mins, Medway’s scrummage, with the front row of Ross Cooley, Steve Young and Lyam Johnson dominating their opposite numbers, drove the visitors off the ball who then conceded yet another penalty. Dance went quick and Sam Catlin was on hand to finish some excellent hands from Birnage, Wayne Clayton, Simon Green and Will Alkin.
Medway now led 12-5 and continued to press. Bromley continued to be penalised and the inevitable result was a yellow card for persistent infringement. Jim Birnage kicked two of these penalties to push Medway’s lead out to 18-5.
Medway were in control and dominating at this stage. A further penalty near the Bromley line saw Billy Humphrey drive over from a short range move. Birnage converted to make the half time score 25-5.
The second half saw Bromley come back strongly into the game. An early drop goal was the only reward for a period of sustained pressure on Medway’s line. Easton, Weobley, and Ebanks tackling strongly to deny the visitors.
The kick off from the drop goal saw Medway reduced to 14 men. Rob Ellis was guilty of taking the Bromley player in the air and paid the justified price of 10 mins in the sin bin.
It was all Bromley at this stage and Medway were forced to defend. Will Alkin, Roger Rhyneart and Humphrey all made telling contributions to the defence. For Medway, Ben Johnson replaced Max Easton but Bromley still came forward and added a penalty to the drop goal to make the score 25-11.
The game became even tighter on 51 minutes when Bromley went over in the corner for a well worked try excellently converted to make the score 25-18.
Medway were then restored to their full compliment and with the scrum dominating asserted pressure. Strong running from Douglas Ebanks and Wayne Clayton inside with Green and Glenn Wadsworth outside saw Medway stretch the visitors defence. Eventually it cracked. Ben Johnson broke two tackles to crash over for an unconverted try.
Medway brought the dependable Ian Flatt on for Young and kept up the pressure on the resolute Bromley side.
The win was finally sealed with Dance breaking again and Birnage adding the conversion to make the final score 37-18. Bromley had battled hard but Medway were deserving victors.
Shortly after the whistle the news came through of Folkestone’s defeat ensuring Medway were promoted. The whole club were ecstatic and celebrated the promotion well into the night.
Medway’s coach Taff Gwilliam said that ‘the whole club and particularly the players have worked hard for this promotion and it is thoroughly deserved. The team has improved as the season has gone on and it is a proud moment for everyone’.
The Priestfields ground on Saturday saw the visit of Thanet Wanderers RFC to take on Medway in the Kent Plate competition. These sides have not met for many years with Thanet playing two leagues higher than Medway in London Division 1.
The Medway 1st XV selection saw debuts given to Tom Whitnell (17 years 262 days) and Dean Avery. Dave French, Danny Williams, Paul Morant and Ian Flatt promoted were from the extras following good performances. The match also marked the return of Glen Wadsworth after a two month absence. The selection was testament to the growing strength in depth of the Senior club.
In good playing conditions the game kicked off with Thanet having the initial advantage of the breeze at their backs. Thanet started much the brighter side and were soon pressing the home side. Their scrummage set piece dominated and was the platform for everything they did. For Medway good initial strong tackling led by Wayne Clayton and Ian Flatt kept Thanet out.
Thanet were soon ahead after 8 minutes when they broke the Medway defensive line and scored under the posts for a 7-0 lead. The home side appeared a bit overawed but as the half progressed they gradually grew in confidence. Playing against the breeze the home side looked to retain the ball. James Dance and Jim Birnage used their runners to good effect.
Captain for the day Liam Weobley carried strongly as did Wayne Clayton and Martin Bagnall. Good support and clearing allowed Medway to frustrate the Thanet team. Eventually Medway’s structure and good ball retention was rewarded when the industrious Billy Humphrey drove over from short range for an unconverted try.
Thanet came back strongly. Their pack led by Neil Wakefield and Kevin Etheridge put Medway under pressure. Thanet were awarded a 5 metre scrum they drove for the line but the ball was kicked out by Max Easton giving the referee no choice but to yellow card him. Thanet opted for the scrum off the penalty. Again they drove for the line and again the ball was kicked out after the scrum wheeled. This time Billy Humphrey was yellow carded reducing Medway to 13 players. Thanet went for the scrum and this time the referee properly awarded a penalty try which was converted and Thanet led 14-5 at half time.
Medway began the second half with 13 men. They kicked for field position and looked to keep the ball tight in Thanet territory and run down the sin bin clock. From one of Medway’s pick and drives a Thanet back row hand was adjudged to have handled the ball in the ruck. Thanet were reduced to 14 themselves when the yellow card was produced for the third time.
Jim Birnage kicked the penalty to narrow the gap to 14-8. Medway were soon restored to their full compliment and pressing Thanet back. Good lineout work from Max Easton ensured Medway had a platform to play off. James Dance asked questions of the visitors back row time and again. Medway’s reward soon came and it was Humphrey with his second try of the game. He drove over again from short range for the try which was converted by Glen Wadsworth.
Medway were ahead 15-14. Both sides battled hard at the breakdown. Thanet dominated the scrums and looked to press Medway time and again with their driving mauls. Medway defended well and with the ball looked to play with width. With 3 minutes remaining Bagnall was fed the ball wide out on the right and he broke two tackles as he cut in to score and put Medway ahead 20-15 with just minutes to go.
Thanet came back. Tom Ash was prominent as a threat and after a series of phases they deservedly went over in the corner. The last kick of the game would decide the outcome. It missed from a difficult angle and Medway were victorious.
This was a great result for Medway, their 16th consecutively, and provides good momentum going into their key home league match at Priestfields against Bromley next week.
Medway travelled to East Sussex on Saturday to take on Horsham looking to win in an effort to maintain their push for promotion. The last six matches between these two sides have seen three victories apiece.
Both sides were missing key players through injury so this would be a test of the depth of their respective squads. It was Medway who started much the brighter.
After 3 minutes Horsham looked to clear their lines from Medway pressure but a poor kick out was fielded by Rob Ellis who counter attacked. He was supported by Will Alkin who took the pass on the outside from Ellis and outpaced the home defence for the opening unconverted try.
Within 5 minutes Medway increased their lead when James Dance, Wayne Clayton and Sam Catlin combined to create the space for Doug Ebanks who powered over. Jim Birnage converted and the visitors had an early 12-0 lead.
The Medway packed were dominant in the tight and with Max Easton combining well with Bill Humphrey in the lineout the visitors were putting the home side under considerable pressure. That pressure told when Will Alkin repaid Rob Ellis’s earlier good work and executed a 2 v 1 out wide for Ellis to score an unconverted try in the corner to increase the lead to 17-0.
Medway soon secured the all important bonus point on 27 minutes. A great scrummage led by Ross Cooley, Steve Young and Liam Johnson saw the home side driven off their own ball. James Dance secured possession and the ball went out to Sam Catlin who finished sharply.
With a 22-0 lead and half time approaching Medway looked in complete control but Horsham showed their character and bounced back. They broke through shortly before half time for a well taken unconverted try after good interplay between forwards and backs.
The second half began and it was Horsham who were in the ascendency and scored first. Medway were guilty of off loading to the opposition and Horsham took full advantage for their second try. It could have been worse for Medway when Horsham had a further opportunity to score only to be held up over the line. Medway eventually cleared their lines after strong work from Malcolm Graves and Liam Weobley.
The next 15 minutes saw Horsham raise their game and to their credit forced Medway onto the back foot. Medway defended for long periods but eventually re-gained their earlier control through their set piece play. Horsham showed great tenacity but their set piece could not take advantage of some good field position won.
On the hour mark James Dance settled the visitors nerves when following a series of phases involving both backs and forwards, Simon Green and Wayne Clayton particularly prominent, the gap opened up for him at the side of the ruck and he sniped over for a well taken try converted by James Birnage.
Medway introduced fresh legs in Ian Flatt and Danny Williams to replace Graves and Ebanks to maintain the work rate needed to secure a much sought after victory.
Despite being 29-10 down Horsham continued to take the play to their visitors at every opportunity but with the fresh legs on Medway held firm.
The final score of the game saw Medway drive for the line with their dominant scrummage from 5 metres out. Horsham infringed to prevent the score but Bill Humphrey took a quick tap penalty and drove over from short range to complete the victory by 34-10.
Medway were delighted with their victory against a Spirited Horsham side who never gave up.
Next week Medway face London 1 side Thanet Wanderers in the Kent Cup competition at Priestfields
Saturday saw the Medway club entertain Sussex side Uckfield at Priestfields on a fine but blustery day. The first encounter between the two sides had been a closely contended match with Medway just sneaking a valuable away victory.
Uckfield played with the conditions in the first half but it was the home side who scored first. A strong scrummage from the home side on Uckfields 22m line saw the visitors 9 under pressure. James Dance robbed him of the ball and before the visitors could recover scampered over for a fine unconverted try and a 5-0 lead.
Uckfield then came back into it with some good midfield runs. This saw Medway scrambling in defence and despite a number of phases close to the Medway line the visitors could not quite get over the line. Medway turned the ball over and showed good organisation to retain the ball through many phases and frustrate their visitors. Liam Weobley, Douglas Ebanks and Roger Rhyneart all carried strongly.
Centres Wayne Clayton and Simon Green continually got over the gain line and allowed Medway to win good field position.
On the half hour mark Medway increased their lead. Following a typically strong series of phases the visitors defence was eventually stretched and man of the match Billy Humphrey drove over from short range for the second unconverted try and a 10-0 lead.
The Medway supporters were delighted with their sides start but Uckfield are well organised side and they came back strongly. It was only good defence out wide from which prevented the visitors from what would have been a deserved try.
Medway went in at half time with a slender 10-0 lead. Uckfield for all their pressure were unfortunate not to have got on the scoreboard.
With the elements in their favour Medway looked to grab control of the game and so they did. Will Alklin set the tone when, for the first time, Uckfield made defensive errors allowing Alkin to break tackles and beat the fullback on the outside to score.
Within 6 minutes a quick tap penalty saw Sam Catlin beat the last man and also score a further unconverted try. This try gave Medway control at 20-0 and the all important try bonus point.
Billy Humphrey then profited from another quickly taken penalty by Dance allowing him to score his second try. JIm Birnage converted to put the home side 27-0 ahead.
Medway were now on the front foot with their powerful running and high tempo play. Jim Birnage rounded off some fine interplay with a great running line to score the sixth try.
It must said that Medway were clinical in their finishing. Those not at the game could be mistaken that this was match totally dominated by the home side but in truth Uckfield were always in the game as they played with ambition and organisation. They tested the home side’s defence repeatedly only to fall short at the last moment.
The final try of the game went to young Doug Ebanks taking a short pass and accelerating away from the Uckfield defence. Birnage converted to make the final score 39-0.
The final whistle sounded and Medway were delighted. It was a fine result built on a robust defence against an Uckfield side that was better than the scoreline suggests.
Next week Medway travel to Horsham.
Medway travelled to Sussex side Eastbourne on Saturday with the visitors looking to extend their recent impressive form against their lowly hosts. Both sides were well supported given the conditions and Eastbourne proved to be excellent hosts during both the pre and post match hospitality.
Playing in very difficult conditions of high winds and driving rain the two sides both looked to play attractive rugby. Eastbourne had the advantage of the strong wind sweeping down the pitch in the first half but it was Medway who came out of the blocks first.
Medway won the ball at the kick off and strong running and good offloading saw James Dance score an unconverted try within the first minute of the match.
Medway after the re-start retained the ball well going through a series of phases and driving up the pitch and within 5 minutes increased their lead when Billy Sandison drove over powerfully from short range to extend the visitors lead to 10-0.
If Medway thought that Eastbourne were going to roll over they were mistaken. Eastbourne showed great character and fought back well to level the scores with a penalty and then a converted try.
On 25 minutes James Dance restored Medway’s lead when a concerted period of pressure from the forwards, with Ben Johnson, Liam Weobley and Max Easton particularly prominent, provided the opportunity for Dance to scamper over for the unconverted try.
On the half hour mark Medway found themselves behind. Eastbourne may be destined for the Sussex leagues but they kept playing and following poor defensive organization from the visitors Eastbourne scored a well taken converted try to lead 17-15.
Medway did not panic. They retained the ball and drove upfield through Rhyneart, Clayton and Cooley. They won a penalty and kicked for the corner. From the resultant lineout Ben Johnson and Billy Sandison combined to secure possession and Medway drove for the line.
Eastbourne illegally prevented the Medway score and Eastbourne were reduced to 14 men with a yellow card issued. Medway then executed a a training ground move to send Billy Humphrey over for another unconverted try which secured the try bonus point and a half time 20-17 lead.
The second half saw Medway with the conditions in their favour and as a result they dominated the half against a spirited Eastbourne side. The visitors, Medway, scored a further four tries without reply from the home side.
Two tries from Rob Ellis with a second from Bill Humphrey and one for Jimmy Birnage which he converted himself saw Medway run out winners by 42 points to 17.
Ellis looked to be returning to the last seasons form with some sharp finishing. Humphrey worked hard all game and deserved his second and new Medway boy Birnage capped another strong performance.
Credit to Eastbourne they always looked to take the game to Medway but it was Medway who always looked the stronger side.
Medway’s bonus point victory was sadly marred with the news that Ben Johnson has suffered a hand fracture which will rule him out for some time.
Medway’s next game is at home to Uckfield in two weeks time.
Medway’s match against Sussex side Crawley defied the elements and went ahead in perfect playing conditions. With Medway pushing for promotion and Crawley struggling at the foot of the league this was always going to be a tough match for the visitors and so it proved.
Medway were keen to achieve a positive result and came out playing a high tempo game with width which Crawley struggled to contain. The first half saw Medway score 9 tries, 6 of which were converted to go in at half time 57-0 up. Medway were dominant in both set pieces and this platform allowed them to play the type of game needed to maintain the promotion push.
The second half saw Medway score a further 10 tries of which 3 were converted to make the final score 115-0.
It must be said, to Crawley's credit, although somewhat outclassed they never gave up. They always looked to take the game to Medway with quick throws at the lineout, tapped penalties, running from deep and at no time did their heads drop. The visitors showed tremendous character and remained committed and sporting to the final whistle.
For Medway Sam Catlin, their top try scorer, pushed his try tally for the season to 20 scoring 5 tries in this match. James Dance had a hat trick of his own. Douglas Ebanks added a brace as did Martin Bagnall and Billy Humphrey. There were further tries from Liam Weobley, Simon Green, Max Easton, Martin Farbrace and James Birnage. Birnage added the 9 conversions to his single try to complete the Medway scorers in this game.
This result has provided Medway’s points difference a much needed boost in their promotion quest. It also entertained the hardy supporters who turned out in numbers once the game was confirmed as going ahead.
Medway’s next game will see the return of Billy Sandsion, Glen Wadsworth, Malcolm Graves and Roger Rhyneart to the available list so competition for places will be healthy.
That next match for Medway sees them travel to an improving Eastbourne and the club will be laying on a coach for any supporters who wish to travel.
Medway travelled to Kent rivals Park House on Saturday looking to maintain their recent good form against a side with which there have been some very tough matches with in recent years. The Medway supporters turned out in numbers and they were not to be disappointed.
Park House were missing a few regulars and ultimately paid the price for not being able to field their strongest side. The visitors scored 6 tries in each half to complete a comprehensive victory.
To the Park House players credit they never gave up and looked to run the ball at Medway at every opportunity right up until the final whistle.
Medway for their part were clinical in their finishing and maintained the pressure for the entire 80 minutes.
The first half saw 2 tries from Rob Ellis, and tries each from James ‘Barnes’ Dance, Ben Johnson, Sam Catlin and Will Alkin. James Birnage added two conversions and by half time Medway had secured the all important bonus point they sought and a 34-0 half time lead.
For Park House their depleted team battled manfully and deserve credit for sticking to their task.
The second half as the first was dominated by Medway and saw a hat trick of tries from skipper Simon Green. He was backed up by second tries for James ‘Barnes’ Dance and Will Alkin. Martin Bagnall added the sixth to complete the twelve try scoring spree. Fly half James Birnage converted all six second half tries to see Medway run out winners by 76-0.
Park House have had a tough task of late with their last three matches against the top sides in the league but given the character they showed in this match they will surely bounce back.
For the visitors Medway they will be delighted with their performance which maintains their run of good form. Bill Humphrey was awarded ‘Man of the Match’ and Max Easton showed what an impressive prospect he is.
Next week Medway are at home to Sussex side Crawley.
Local rivals Medway and Maidstone met for the first time since the introduction of leagues to Rugby Union and it was Medway who came out the victors by a convincing score of 34 points to nil. To be fair to Maidstone the scoreline did not truly reflect the competitiveness of the encounter.
The match was played at Priestfields in ideal conditions on a fresh, sunny afternoon in front of a large expectant crowd. Both clubs were well supported for this eagerly awaited derby encounter. Maidstone fresh from their impressive win over high flying Folkestone the previous week came into the game full of confidence. For Medway the team too were confident following a hard fought victory at Ashford the previous week.
Both sides were missing key players through injuries sustained the previous week. For Medway among the changes were fly half JIm Birnage making his 1st XV debut. Douglas Ebanks came in at No 8 for the injured Roger Rhyneart. Young Max Easton started at 6, Malcolm Graves on a rare appearance at 7 and Will Allkin came in at full back.
Medway started the brighter and dominated field position. Through this territorial advantage they won penalties and debutant fly half Jim Birnage kicked penalties on 5 and 10 minutes to give Medway the early lead at 6-0.
The game then went into a period of cut and thrust with both sides looking to establish authority. For Maidstone there was a setback when they were forced into an early change as Sean Evans was forced from the field with a wrist injury.
Maidstone, through Matt Isles, looked to carry up strongly in midfield but Wayne Clayton and Max Easton prevented the visitors getting on the front foot. In the set piece Medway were dominant in the lineout with man of the match Ben Johnson ensuring Medway a supply of good quality ball in the lineout from the excellent throwing of Bill Sandison. Together with Johnson, Max Easton stole a lot of the visitors ball to ensure Medway commanded field position throughout the half.
On the half hour mark Medway deservedly went further ahead. Young Douglas Ebanks finished smartly after some good phase play with Liam Weobley, Ross Cooley, Malcolm Graves and Steve Young all working hard. Birnage converted to put Medway 13-0 ahead.
With half time approaching Maidstone looked to take the game to Medway. Gareth Bramwell always looked the most likely player to break the home sides solid defence however it was Medway, against the run of play, who completed the first half scoring when Sam Catlin added to his seasons impressive try tally finishing well under the posts. Birnage converted and Medway went into half time 20-0 ahead.
On the re-start Maidstone came out of the blocks and pressed Medway hard looking to get back into the game. They kicked behind the home side at every opportunity to turn Medway and pin them back but Will Allkin and Bobby Ellis tidied up well and cleared the home lines.
With Maidstone raising their game the second half became a very even affair. Maidstone’s Jamie Owen looked dangerous. Stoppani worked hard for Maidstone. Medway’s skipper Simon Green made some excellent breaks but Medway were unable to capitalize on them with good scrambling defence from the visitors.
Medway introduced fresh legs. Martin Farbrace replaced the excellent Max Easton and Billy Humphrey replaced Malcolm Graves. Both sides worked hard, Maidstone to get back into the game and Medway to seal victory. James Dance broke several times near the contact area but Medway were unable to seal the game with the key score they sought.
Although the match was hard fought it was very much a sportingly contested match so it was a little surprising on 65 minutes when an off the ball incident saw the Billy Humphrey and Gareth Bramwell sent from the pitch. Bramwell received a straight red for repeated punching and Billy Humphrey a yellow for his part in this isolated incident.
Medway were next to score. Simon Green, who had been a constant threat to the visitors, finally got the score that effectively sealed the victory for Medway. Medway went through a series of phases with quick ball and stretched the visitors defence to create the space and the all important score. Birnage converted once again and Medway were 27-0 ahead with 10 minutes remaining.
Medway were restored to 15 men shortly afterwards and Maidstone were forced to defend a man short. The final minutes of the game saw Medway have several scoring opportunities but good defence from Maidstone prevented Ellis, Ebanks and Catlin from finishing and securing the vital bonus point.
In the final minute of the game Medway pressured the visitors line winning a number of rucks. The ball was re-cycled but Maidstone hung on bravely several times until eventually Wayne Clayton cut inside to power over and seal the all important bonus point. Birnage added the extras to complete an impressive 34-0 victory.
Medway will be delighted with this win not only for local prestige (they have never beaten Maidstone in league competition) but also to maintain their push for promotion. Although the scoreline appears to be emphatic this was a keenly fought contest of narrow margins with Medway’s strong defence proving the difference.
Medway travelled to Kent rivals Ashford on Saturday for their first game of 2012. Games between the two clubs have always been keenly contested close affairs and this match proved to be no different.
Despite playing into the breeze Medway started the stronger. Good ball retention pinned the home side back and after 10 minutes Medway deservedly took the lead. Good work by James Dance saw him break the home defence and the ball went wide for Sam Catling to finish well. Dance converted and Medway led 7-0.
As the half wore Ashford came more into the game. The Knight brothers and Joe Lakin looked strong with JJ Murray orchestrating the home attacks. On 22 minutes Ashford turned the ball over at the ruck near the half way line. They counter attacked and moved the ball wide to score a fine unconverted try and bring the score back to 7-5.
Medway were next to score. Strong running from Liam Weobley, Wayne Clayton and Roger Rhyneart saw Medway press the home line and win a penalty. James Dance converted and the visitors increased their lead to 10-5.
With 15 minutes remaining of the half Ashford drew level. A Medway put in at the scrum saw the ball go loose and some sharp play saw them score an unconverted try out wide to level the scores. Ashford had two further opportunities in quick succession to score but poor execution let them down.
Medway pressed Ashford as the half came to an end. Bill Sandison and Ben Johnson linked well for the pack to drive for the home line but Ashford defended well and the half time whistle came with the side level 10-10.
Medway again started the second half the brighter team but were unable to breach the home defence. Both teams fought for superiority in the loose Steve Young, Ross Cooley and Max Easton all worked tirelessly ensuring Medway secured their ball. Malcolm Graves back after a long absence added his experience to ensure Medway had the platform to play off. Medway as a result had several opportunities to score driving for the home line but Ashford held out turning the ball over and clearing their lines.
Ashford added Tommy Murray to the fray in place of the experienced John Norman and looked to take the game to Medway up front. For Medway Luke Burns and Rob Ellis ran hard off good work from Captain Simon Green but they could not break the second half stalemate.
What proved to be the decisive score of the game came on 65 minutes when Clayton carried strongly in midfield. Simon Rumsey threw a great cut out pass and Simon Green put Ellis away. He was tackled short but the Ashford’s narrow side defence was committed and Dance seized the opportunity to cross unopposed on the blind side. He converted the try himself and Medway led 17-10.
Ashford threw everything into the come back but Medway’s defence, bolstered by the fresh legs of Martin Farbrace and Danny Williams, held firm.
The final whistle came and Medway were delighted to get through this most difficult of matches.
The final league fixture of 2011 saw Medway pitched against local Kent rivals Sheppey RFC at Priestfields. As well as being a league fixture, the history of the two clubs is such that the game also acted as the annual competition for the Robin Everest Trophy.
The game started with both sides looking to impose themselves on the other. It was the visitors Sheppey who initially had the upper hand with good field position but despite the early pressure they were unable to capitalise.
As the game progressed Medway began to get a foothold and started to press the Sheppey team. Good defensive pressure saw the visitors penalised. From the resultant penalty fly half Glenn Wadsworth kicked for the corner. Billy Sandison found Ben Johnson and an excellent drive from the forwards saw Bill Humphrey touch down for the opening try of the match. The try was unconverted and Medway led 5-0.
Medway broke the Sheppey defence twice more within the next 10 minutes but failed to hold onto the ball and capitalise on some fine approach work.
As the match progressed the game became one of attrition at the breakdown. Dylan Davies, Dave Smith, Martin Robinson and Tom Varker looked to impose themselves on the home side but the home defence was sound. Wayne Clayton, Simon Green and Roger Rhyneart were particularly prominent. Both Glenn Wadsworth and Brad Box had penalty kicks at goal without success,
On 35 minutes Medway found themselves deep in their own 22m. From their secure lineout ball, man of the match, James Dance found Wayne Clayton who broke out. Good interplay from the backs saw Sam Catlin get the ball in space. He outstripped the cover defence to score a fine team length of the pitch try. Glenn Wadsworth converted and Medway led 12-0 at half time.
The second half began with both sides fighting for control. Medway’s revamped pack acquitted themselves well. Young Max Easton making his debut in the second row and Steve Young playing only his second game of the season and Ross Cooley playing out of position performed well to ensure Medway were competitive in the set piece.
Neither side could breakthrough early in the second half. Medway were strong in defence and although the more dangerous side through Will Allkin and Rob Ellis could not breakdown a resilient Sheppey side. Ian Flatt who hard worked hard was replaced by Doug Ebanks. Young Ebanks provided a strong fresh impetus that kept the Sheppey efforts in check.
The decisive score of the match came when Medway eventually managed to achieve a series of quick ball phases. Dance, Clayton, Sandison and Ben johnson all ensured the quick ball Medway craved. This was delivered wide and Billy Humphrey went over in the corner for a fine finish and a 17-0 lead.
Sheppey worked hard to get back into the game. However Medway introduced fresh legs through Dave French and Martin Farbrace to keep the visitors at bay.
With a couple of minutes to go Medway thought they had secured the all important bonus point when a quick throw in on their own 5m line saw them go the length of the field and score under the posts. The referee awarded the try however Sheppey’s touch judge Ron Carpenter still had his flag up on the Medway 5 metre line. The referee went all the way back and consulted. The try was wiped out.
The crowd was disappointed but when consulting with the players afterwards the touch was correct in his judgement. The game was concluded shortly afterwards with Medway running out deserved winners in a keenly contested match.
Medway will be pleased to go into Christmas with a win over a very resilient Sheppey team who have done themselves proud having been newly promoted.
Medway entertained league leaders and previously unbeaten Sussex side Crowborough at Priestfields on Saturday. Playing conditions were ideal for rugby after a period of inclement weather.
Crowborough played with the slight breeze at their backs in the first half and were on the front foot from the kick off. Medway were forced to defend as a lively Crowborough side looked to stretch the home side.
On 13 minutes the visitors deservedly went ahead. Medway conceded a penalty. Crowborough went quick and some sharp interplay between the visitors forwards and backs saw them score the opening try out wide. The try was unconverted and Crowborough led 5-0.
The next 15 minutes saw some pulsating end to end rugby. Both sides looked to seek dominance at breakdown but it was the referee who had the final say penalising both sides for various indiscretions. It was Medway who eventually benefitted when Glenn Wadsworth was successful to make the score 5-3.
Crowborough immediately restored their five point lead at 8-3 with a well struck kick within a few minutes when Medway were penalised for not releasing in the ruck.
A pattern was beginning to emerge. Crowborough were dominating the scrum but Medway were the dominant force in the lineout. Ben Johnson and Roger Rhyneart were winning Crowborough throws and with Billy Sandison throwing well were secure on their own ball.
The battle for supremacy was in the loose. With the set piece evening itself out both teams looked to dominate the breakdown. For the visitors Tom Carruthers was outstanding and his battle with Roger Rhyneart was a highlight of the game. The Medway centres of Wayne Clayton and Simon Green carried strongly and were also a real force defensively.
The game went into half time with the visitors leading 8-3. Medway were delighted with their efforts. Some real battling performances from Liam Weobley, Billy Sandison, Ian Flatt and Billy Humphrey had kept Medway in the game.
The second half saw Medway with the breeze at their backs and with the score tight at 8-3 they sensed their chance for an upset was on the cards. Fly half Glenn Wadsworth kicked for territory superbly giving Medway the field position they craved. James Dance was lively keeping the visitors back row inside allowing the outside players the space to play.
Medway were the first to score with the best try of the match. Medway won the ball on the right they cleared out quickly to provide the quality ball they craved, good hands from Dance, Wadsworth and Clayton saw Sam Catlin hit the line at pace. Will Allkin was on hand to take the pass and beat the cover defence and then provide a great pass for Catlin to go over and tie the score with the unconverted try.
Medway were on the up. The large crowd got behind the home team and the the visitors were experiencing pressure they had not had so far this season. Medway soon took the lead. The pressure realised another penalty and Wadsworth struck it well from out wide to give Medway the lead for the first time at 11-8.
Crowborough are a quality team. They responded and on the back of a strong scrum pressed Medway but the home defence held firm with Sandison, Allkin and Cooley working hard.
Medway then suffered a blow when Humphrey was sin binned and thus reduced to 14 men but this just spurred them on. They worked hard. Led by Simon Green Medway still took the game to the visitors and got their reward when Rob Ellis finished superbly in the corner to round off some great teamwork.
Medway led 16-8 but the Crowborough team are not unbeaten without reason. They came back strong and were rewarded with a penalty try when a Crowborough player was denied a scoring opportunity. This made the score 16-13.
There were 9 minutes left. It was 9 minutes of pulsating stuff. Medway had introduced Martin Farbrace, Douglas Ebanks and Max Easton and every one of these players played their part. Their freshness and desire to get into the match provided the impetus to maintain the Medway stranglehold on the game.
Medway survived those last few minutes and the victory was theirs. It was a very sporting Crowborough team, coaching staff and supporters who felt that Medway’s desire and intensity merited the victory.
A great result for Medway in front of a great crowd. Next week Medway face local rivals Sheppey at Priestfields.
Medway travelled to take on old Kent rivals Bromley on Saturday in blustery conditions but on a very good playing surface. The match was played in front of a good crowd with Bromley hosting a club anniversary lunch. Medway supporters were among the guests for a superb afternoon of entertainment both on and off the field.
Medway were looking to extend their fine recent form against a side that are always robust and direct in their approach. The game started with Medway playing with the wind at their back. Bromley were penalised early after the kick off for offside and Glenn Wadsworth made no mistake to give Medway the lead 3-0.
Medway looked the stronger side early on and continued to pressure the home defence. Good strong play from Rob Ellis saw him held up over the line and then Medway were awarded a scrum. On 13 minutes they attacked off the scrum and then fed the ball wide for the prolific Sam Catlin to go over in the corner for an unconverted try and an 8-0 lead.
Medway continued to press. A couple of Wadsworth penalties just missed but Bromley were kept in their 22m. On 25 minutes Medway knocked on deep in the Bromley 22m. From the resultant home feed Medway’s front row of Sam Brice, Billy Sandison and Ross Cooley dominated their opposite numbers. The ball was won against the head and fed wide quickly and early for Catlin to score yet again. The conversion was missed but Medway led 13-0.
Although 13-0 down Bromley started to come more into the game. They fought hard at the breakdown and looked to carry up short. They played the ball tight and drove well for good field position. They won a couple of penalties but both were missed narrowly.
On 35 minutes Medway forced an error from Bromley as they pressed the visitors line. From a scrum under pressure from Bromley Roger Rhyneart drove well, supported by Wayne Clayton and Ian Flatt Medway won quick ball Ben Johnson punched up through the Bromley back and the the ball was re-cycled. Glenn Wadsworth and Sam Catlin combined to put Will Allkin away for a superb length of the field try. Wadsworth converted and Medway were ahead 20-0 at half time.
The second half saw the home side with the advantage of wind and slope but it was Medway who started the better. Strong running from Wayne Clayton and Simon Green gave the visitors good field position from which the lively James Dance kept the ball quick and with Medway on the front foot Bromley struggled to contain them.
Billy Humphrey and Liam Weobley were effective carrying and creating space and with Dance providing the ball Roger Rhyneart crashed over out wide to seal the bonus point and put Medway firmly in control at 25-0.
From the resultant kick off Medway failed to secure the ball and conceded a needless penalty. The Bromley fly half made no mistake and Bromley were off the mark at 25-3.
The next 15 minutes saw Bromley dominate field position with their forwards driving well and their fly half kicking to the corners. Medway for their part defended well and eventually broke out.
Good work and interplay by backs and forwards with Weobley, Allkin and Johnson prominent saw Medway gaining good field position. Bromley conceded a penalty and Medway kicked for the corner. The lineout saw Medway drive for line with Ross Cooley getting the touchdown for the unconverted try and a 30-3 lead. Medway saw Max Easton come on for his league debut and he acquitted himself well.
Medway had sealed victory but Bromley were not finished. Two successive yellow cards saw Medway reduced to 13 men and Bromley took advantage. They pressed well and following a series of pick and drives eventually breached the visitors stretched defence. The home fly half added the conversion to make the final score 30-10.
Medway will be pleased with their fifth successive bonus point win which has seen them climb into promotion contention. Next week they face the sternest test of the season when they take on the unbeaten leaders Crowborough at Priestfield.
On a bright and sunny Saturday afternoon Medway entertained Sussex rivals Horsham at Priestfields. In their past three encounters at the ground Horsham had run out victors twice. For Medway was the incentive of playing in front of 50 of their former players who were having their reunion lunch.
The game kicked off and it was the visitors who started the more brightly. Medway were forced to defend deep in their own half as the visitors went through the phases. Horsham went close a few times but good work from Billy Humphrey, Wayne Clayton, Liam Weobley and Simon Green kept them at bay.
On 10 minutes Medway broke out of their half for the first time. Douglas Ebanks made the break and fed James Dance who went over for a fine try. Glenn Wadsworth converted and against the run of play Medway led 7-0.
From the kick off Medway secured the ball. There appeared to be space wide but as the pass went out the Horsham winger intercepted and scored under the posts for a converted try to level. This stunned the home side.
As the half wore on the Medway pack started to gain control. The front row of Sam Brice, Billy Sandison and Lyam Johnson were a real handful for their opposition. However despite the pressure up front Medway did not get the platform they craved. The experience of the visitors back row told as, with some borderline play, they were able to prevent Medway from taking the advantage they deserved.
Medway did create two clear cut scoring chances with set piece plays that saw Simon Green and Rob Ellis make clean breaks but Horsham's full back, Tom Wright, made top quality tackles to prevent the score.
Horsham also carved out their own chance but the home full back Martin Bagnall, also made his own telling tackle.
The half played out with neither side able to exert control of the game.
The second half started with a bang. Medway kicked off and secured the ball. Great work from Roger Rhynehart led to the ball being fed to Sam Catlin who scored under the posts. Glenn Wadsworth converted and Medway led 14-7.
Medway continued to impress as the half wore on and playing more expansively they troubled the visitors. Horsham for their part defended well to keep the home side at bay.
On 55 minutes Medway scored their third try. Centre Wayne Clayton break several tackles on a barnstorming run then offloaded to Simon Green who raced over in the corner for an unconverted try and a 19-7 lead.
With Medway dominating the scrum and also the lineout functioning well through Ben Johnson, Billy Sandison and Roger Rhynehart the home side were now controlling the game. James Dance, Medway’s form player, was driving his forwards on and Medway were a threat all over the pitch.
Horsham were resilient however and were always a threat. A well struck penalty brought them back to 19-10.
On 65 minutes Medway secured their fifth consecutive bonus point when good lineout ball secured by Ben Johnson saw Roger Rhynehart score from the resultant drive. Although unconverted Medway were ahead 24-10.
The experienced Malcolm Graves replaced Billy Humphrey and Martin Farbrace replaced the strong running Liam Weobley to provide fresh impetus for the home side
With 5 minutes left Medway scored again. Playing with width strong running, good quick ball and accurate passing saw Simon Green put away for his second try. Although unconverted, victory was sealed with the score at 29-10 and time running out.
Horsham for their part were not finished. They showed that they are not a team to be underestimated. Despite missing a couple of regular 1st XV players they continued to take the game to Medway right to the end. It was fitting that they got the final score. Medway were victors by 29-15.
This was an excellent game of rugby between two sides who just wanted to play. Blessed with a referee who was consistent in his decision making the large crowd were served up excellent entertainment.
Medway travelled to Sussex side Uckfield on Saturday looking to maintain their recent good form. Uckfield, newly promoted last season, were keen to return to winning ways after defeats to the league’s top two sides in their most recent fixtures.
The game kicked off in good weather. Uckfield started the stronger and pinned their visitors back in their own 22. Medway defended well but Uckfield maintained the pressure and were rewarded with an early successful penalty for offside in midfield.
It was not until 15 minutes into the match that Medway were able to mount their first meaningful attack. Good interplay between forwards and backs with Rhyneart, Clayton and Ben Johnson prominent saw Medway press the home line. However the ball was eventually lost in contact short of Uckfield’s line.
From the resultant scrum Uckfield looked to clear their lines but pressure exerted by Brice, Sandison and Cooley put the home set piece under pressure. The impressive James Dance charged the clearing kick down and pounced on the loose ball to score the try. Glenn Wadsworth added the conversion and Medway led 7-3.
Within two minutes Medway increased their lead. Medway carried the ball up from the kick off through Weobley, Humphrey, Brice and Sandison. They then went through a series of phases moving the ball with efficiency orchestrated by Wadsworth eventually the home defence were stretched and Captain Simon Green crossed for the unconverted try and a 12-3 lead.
Two tries in three minutes had rocked the home side but they came back. Uckfield showed character and upped their game. Medway were forced to defend again but the tackling was sound. Flatt, Ellis, Catlin and French all made a contribution to the defensive effort. A penalty for the home side was their only reward for good endeavor and Medway went into half time with a 12-6 lead.
Uckfield came out for the second half in determined mood and opened the second half scoring with a well struck penalty from the dependable home kicker following offside from a lineout. At 12-9 this game was still open for either side to take.
The Medway lineout led by Ben Johnson and Billy Sandison was functioning well and this laid the set piece foundation for some quality possession. It was from this possession that Medway scored their next try. Medway went through a whole series of phases and stretched the home defence and eventually an overlap was created for Wayne Clayton to score the unconverted try.
Just as the visitors looked to dominate the game Uckfield came back quickly. A Medway scrum saw the ball go loose and Uckfield were sharpest and were rewarded with a converted try under the posts. The score was now 17-16. Every time Medway looked to be taking the game back would come a determined Uckfield.
Shortly after this score the game was held up when Medway prop Ross Cooley was knocked unconscious by an accidental knee to the head. All the Medway team and supporters were grateful to the home physio and players in their support of dealing with the subsequent handling of the injury. Cooley was taken to hospital in an ambulance and early indications are that there were no other complications.
The game restarted. Liam Johnson replaced Cooley and performed solidly. Both sides made determined efforts but on 70 minutes Medway scored the decisive try. Again good ball retention and movement of the ball were key. They stretched the home side for Medway debutant Will Alkin to score an unconverted try out wide.
A sound performance in what was Alkin’s first game for 9 months was a credit to his determination to overcome injury and regain fitness.
The final minutes of the game saw Medway defend well and then when the visitors got the ball they managed to retain and dominate possession thus frustrating the home sides efforts to steal the game.
The final whistle went and Medway were the victors but this was a very close call with the home side showing what a dangerous side they are.
Photos courtesy of Ron Hill at Uckfield. ALL IMAGES COPYRIGHT RON HILL [HillPhotographic]
Medway entertained Sussex side Eastbourne at Priestfields on Saturday in front of the club’s Vice Presidents who were having their annual luncheon. With recent bonus point wins against Park House and Crawley behind them Medway were looking to extend their winning sequence and consolidate third place in the league.
Sadly though Medway’s recent injury woes continued with the news that Sean Bones has a torn cruciate ligament. With Colin Chapman and Ben Wilkinson still in plaster, Malcolm Graves still recovering from a back injury and Rob Longstaff and Sam Garofalo sidelined for the season Medway’s squad would be severely tested.
To add to Medway’s issues Douglas Ebanks and Roger Rhyneart were both unavailable. This match would be a real test of the depth and strength of the current squad.
For their part Eastbourne were also missing regulars and in their precarious position their coach had issued the rallying cry to his players to play their way out of the relegation places.
The match kicked off with Medway playing into a stiff breeze. The early play was all Medway as they went through the phases. Quick ball saw winger Sam Catlin put away for a good team try converted by Glenn Wadsworth to lead 7-0.
Medway continued to press but poor ball retention allied to good work by the Eastbourne’s back row saw the visitors break out of their own 22m and go all the way for a great counter attacking unconverted try.
Medway were stung and within two minutes were back on the scoreboard through man of the match James Dance. Dance broke a tackle on the 5m after good work from the home forwards and darted over for an unconverted try.
Medway were dominating possession and further tries followed from the versatile Billy Humphrey and an impressive individual effort from Ben Johnson. Wadsworth converted one to put Medway ahead 24-5.
Many teams would fall apart but Eastbourne with coaches Stanley and Outen behind them were fighting for their life in this league. They showed great team spirit and a penalty for offside was quickly followed by another converted try from turnover ball deep in their own half to make the score 24-15.
Medway were rattled but composed themselves with the final try of the half. Medway won good ball in the visitors 22m then went through a couple of quick rucks. Hooker Billy Sandison was found out wide and he drove over to make the half time score 29-15.
With the breeze at their backs in the second half Medway looked to kill the game off as early as possible. It was Danny Williams who sealed the win when he cut in from out wide. Wadsworth converted and the win was secured with the score at 36-15.
Billy Humphrey was next to score when he broke tackles close to the the visitors line after a tap penalty from Dance. The try was again converted by Wadsworth.
Medway continued to attack but Eastbourne defended well particularly through their back row. James Whitnell, Rob Ellis and Wayne Clayton made surging runs to pile the pressure on the Eastbourne line. In the end the pressure of continuous attacks told and it was skipper Simon Green who crashed over. Wadsworth converted.
Eastbourne did not give up, their right winger was fed the ball and he always looked dangerous but Catlin and the well performing home flanker Ian Flatt made telling tackles.
The final play of the game saw another try under the posts when Rob Ellis finished off some good play instigated by Glenn Wadsworth who converted the try to make the final score 57-15.
Medway were delighted with the result. With several players missing a number of the squad put their hands up for starting places. The strength of the squad was there to be seen.
Although an impressive win against an also depleted Eastbourne side who never capitulated there were areas of the game that Medway need to improve if they are to prove a realistic contender in this league.
Medway travelled to Sussex on Saturday to take on a struggling Crawley side strengthened by some recent signings. The corresponding fixture last season had ended in defeat for Medway and they were keen to ensure there was no such repeat.
In fine weather and with Medway playing into a breeze the game kicked off. Crawley secured the early possession and immediately made a handling error in midfield, visiting Captain Simon Green gathered the ball and sprinted away to put Medway ahead with an unconverted try.
Medway looked the sharper team and with 10 minutes gone went further ahead. A series of quick rucks saw the ball fed wide and Sam Catlin beat the cover defense to score Medway’s second unconverted try and increase their lead to 10-0.
Medway were dominating and within two minutes scored again. A Crawley scrum was put under pressure and the ball turned over. Rob Ellis came into the line wide when the ball was fed out and sped over the line for Medway’s third unconverted try and a 15-0 lead.
On 22 minutes Medway were awarded a penalty and opted for the corner rather take the points. The subsequent lineout saw Medway drive for the line. Billy Humphrey touched the ball down after good control and drive from all the forwards. The try was unconverted but Medway had secured the bonus point early.
Crawley took the unusual step of making early changes and this stiffened their team considerably. Given they had conceded four early tries they could easily have folded but they upped their game and battled hard.
Medway were unable to breach the home line again and in fact were forced to defend resolutely. Excellent last ditch tackles by Ellis, Humphrey and Cooley denied what seemed inevitable Crawley scores.
The half ended with Medway 20-0 ahead the bonus point secured but Crawley were still in it given none of the tries had been converted.
The first 15 minutes of the second half was a very even affair Crawley battled hard and Medway struggled to dominate.
The key moment came on 65 minutes. Medway won a scrum, the ball went out to Simon Green who broke in midfield. The resultant ruck on the home sides 22m saw their defense disorganized. James Dance seized the opportunity and broke round the fringes scampering over for a well taken try. Dance converted himself to make the score 27-0 and seal victory.
The next score saw James Dance on hand again to finish off some good work from the forwards. He converted and Medway led 34-0. The last 10 minutes saw Medway reduced to 14 men. With all replacements used Rob Ellis was forced to leave the field with an impact injury.
To Crawley’s credit they never stopped playing and carried hard. The last minute of the game saw them score a deserved try to make the final score 5-34 to visitors Medway. Crawley can take heart from the character and resolve they showed.
Medway will be pleased with the result given the number of players missing. The depth of the squad is stronger and there is genuine competition for places.
Next week sees Medway home to Eastbourne at Priestfields.
Medway entertained Kent rivals Park House at the Priestfields ground on Saturday. Despite going behind to a first minute penalty Medway then played their finest 40 minutes of rugby so far this season.
Medway scored 6 excellent first half tries to secure victory and the bonus point by half time on the back of some clinical rugby. Park House were blown away and lesser sides would have capitulated but they never gave up.
The opening try went to Roger Rhyneart following good work from James Dance. Within a minute Ben Johnson charged a clearance kick down and recovered the ball himself to score. Then 5 minutes later Sam Catlin added another after great team interplay and a series of quick rucks.
On 30 minutes Billy Humphrey finished off an excellent catch and drive by the forwards. Ben Johnson then added his second of the afternoon to cap a fine performance after another good series of phases and quick ball.
The final try of the first half went to Simon Green who after making the initial break with good running lines then was on hand to finish after the forwards won more quick ball.
Centre Wayne Clayton was the catalyst for a lot of the quick ball that Medway won enabling the team to play at pace. Good work at the contact areas from Malcolm Graves and Sean Bones ensured the quick ball Medway craved.
Glenn Wadsworth who kicked well all game added four fine conversions, three from the touchline to make the half time score 38-3.
At half time the home supporters were expectant of a high score but the visitors rallied with cries of ‘pride’ coming from within their team they dug deep and on the back of some good lineout play and ball retention not only held the rampant home side but put themselves in good field position.
Park House were the first to score. A high ball was re-gathered by the Park House fly half who scampered over for a well deserved try to make the score 38-3.
Medway tried to re-assert their authority but a mixture of tenacious play by the visitors and loose play from Medway ensured that the second half became a tight affair. Neither side were able to create continuity giving away needless penalties.
The final score of the game did go to Medway. Glenn Wadsworth scoring and converting the final try on the back of strong play from the forwards to make the final score 45-8.
Credit must go to the visitors. They showed the pride that was called for and held the home side to a single second half try. For Medway it was a good result and the first half performance showing how well this young side is capable of performing.
On Saturday Medway travelled to local rivals Maidstone for the first ever league match between the two clubs. The home side ran out winners 27-25 in a pulsating match which either side could have claimed the victory.
Maidstone started the stronger and from a scrum an unfortunate slip from Sean Bones allowed the Maidstone 8 to pick and run unopposed to make the try which was converted under the post to secure a 7-0 lead. Maidstone continued to press but Medway held them at bay and gradually started to get a foothold in the game.
After 15 minutes Medway clawed their way into the home 22 and were awarded a penalty when Maidstone were penalised for hands in the ruck. Glenn Wadsworth converted to make the score 7-3. Medway continued to look the livelier at this stage and were rewarded with a good finish from winger Sam Catlin. The try was unconverted and Medway led 8-7.
Maidstone seeking their first win of the season came back. Strong running from Matt Isles saw Maidstone re-take the lead 14-8 and a further penalty saw Maidstone go in at half time 17-8 to the good.
The first 20 minutes of the second half belonged to Medway. Medway dominated field position and reaped the rewards. Glenn Wadsworth reduced the arrears to 17-11 with a well taken penalty. Shortly afterwards Ross Cooley crashed over from short range following a series of phases and Medway had regained the lead 17-18.
Medway continued to take the game to Maidstone and from a scrum on the home 22m Roger Rhyneart fed Rob Ellis who went over and with Wadsworth again converting Medway were ahead 25-17.
It was the last hugely dramatic 10 minutes of the game that decided the outcome of the game. Maidstone showed character and pressed Medway into conceding a series of penalties. Influential centre Wayne Clayton was sin binned for killing the ball at the ruck reducing Medway to 14 men for the remainder of the match. Medway defended but the home side recycled well and eventually scored a converted try to make the score 24-25.
From the kick off Medway turned the ball over and with 3 minutes remaining were awarded a penalty in front of the home side’s posts. Glenn Wadsworth, who had kicked well all game, inexplicably missed.
Maidstone secured the re-start and went through the phases they too were then awarded a penalty in front of the posts and made no mistake to take the lead 27-25. The drama did not end there.
Medway kicked off knowing it was the final play of the match and won the ball. They went through 8 phases retaining possession and eventually broke the Maidstone defence. Catlin went for the line and was tackled a yard short but the support was on hand to touch down what they thought was the winning try only for the referee to adjudge it forward. The final whistle went. Maidstone were the winners.
A pulsating match went to the home side. Medway will be disappointed they were unable to close the game out when 25 - 17 ahead. Credit to the home side who never gave up and reaped the reward.
Medway entertained their old Kent rivals Ashford at the Priestfields ground on Saturday. The visitors chose to play with the wind at their backs and the game kicked off. Medway dominated the early exchanges and after 10 minutes deservedly went ahead 3-0 through a Glenn Wadsworth penalty.
Medway then gifted the visitors a soft try when a handling error in back field just a minute after the re-start saw the ball go loose and regathered by the Ashford player. The try was scored and then converted by JJ Murray to put the visitors ahead 7-3.
Despite this setback the home side came again. Good work between Ben Johnson and Billy Humphrey provided the platform for Wayne Clayton to carry strongly and get the home side on the front foot. The reward came quickly. James Dance scored a fine individual try when he broke at the base of a ruck. Glenn Wadsworth converted and Medway regained the lead 13-7.
Playing into the wind Medway would have been happy with their first half performance but a couple of late confusing penalties undermined this and at half time the sides went in level at 13-13.
The second half saw Medway pin the visitors back and with Medway's scrum looking the stronger with Sam Brice and Liam Johnson prominent it was not long before they broke the deadlock. Fine work from the back row forwards of Douglas Ebanks, Sean Bones and Colin Chapman saw Glenn Wadsworth in space and he beat the cover defence to score an unconverted try.
Medway went further ahead 21-13 with another penalty from Wadsworth and with 20 minutes left it looked as if Medway would pull away and seal the game. It was not to be. The Ashford players showed great character and tenacity and hung on. With Walsh, the Knight brothers, JJ Murray and their irrepressible young No 8 they took the game to Medway.
A penalty from Murray and a second gifted try by Medway following another unforced backfield error saw the visitors ahead 21-23. Medway regrouped and pressed.
The last 10 minutes saw a whole series of penalties awarded at the breakdown. Both sides looked for the victory, Simon Green, Rob Ellis and Sam Catlin all had strong runs but Ashford held out. Wadsworth and JJ Murray exchanged goals but the final word went to Wadsworth and a relieved Medway team and supporters. Both fly halves kicked well throughout the match.
Although there was an anxious final few minutes Medway defended well and when they turned the ball over Dance kicked the ball off the field to seal victory. Both sides were missing players but this was an entertaining game for crowd played in good spirit by two sides trying to play rugby with endeavor.
Medway travelled to the league newcomers Sheppey on Saturday in an intriguing clash. The conditions were not ideal with a strong wind blowing straight down the pitch.
Before the game both teams and their supporters observed a minute silence in memory of Sheppey prop Steve Croall who tragically died recently.
When the game kicked off it was Sheppey who had first use of the elements. Medway were pinned back playing into the teeth of the wind but they defended solidly and kept the home side at bay.
After 10 minutes Medway broke out and good ball retention and driving play saw them win a penalty near Sheppey’s posts. The ball was moved quickly by James Dance and good handling saw Colin Chapman beat the cover defence to score a well taken try.
Sheppey looked to come back however but when they did win the ball kicked poorly. The ball went dead in goal on several occasions allowing Medway the opportunity to have scrums high up the field.
Medway had the edge in the set piece and this starved the home side of the possession they craved to put the visitors on the back foot.
Medway’s driving play and ball retention tactics paid further dividends as the half progressed. Sean Bones, Liam Weobley and Colin Chapman were both very effective in the loose play. Glenn Wadsworth converted a subsequent penalty under posts to give the visitors an 8-0 lead.
Medway continued to frustrate the home side with good ball retention wherever they were on the pitch. Roger Rhyneart, Wayne Clayton, and Simon Green carried strongly into the heart of the Sheppey defence. Medway would not kick the ball away and thus frustrated the home team time and again.
On 30 minutes the key moment of the game came. Medway again carried up strongly and won a penalty. They kicked for the corner and went for the catch and drive. Billy Humphrey and Ben Johnson, who connected well all day, provided the possession to exert the pressure on the home defence.
Sheppey conceded 7 penalties at the breakdown in 4 minutes defending their line. As a consequence Dillon Davies and Martin Robinson Sheppey’s most influential players were sin binned. The visitors took the simple 3 points on offer through Glenn Wadsworth to extend their lead to 11-0.
Sheppey, despite being two men down for 10 minutes, showed character and held out well for the remainder of the half. Medway were delighted when they went in at half time with an 11-0 lead having played into the teeth of the gale. Medway’s tactics had been sound and well executed.
The second half started and Medway looked to pin the home side back kicking into the corners and pressing the Sheppey lineout. The home side’s hooker however threw well to link up with Dave Smith allowing Robinson, now back on field, to carry the ball up and provide a platform for Sheppey to play off.
With Robinson carrying and Dillon working hard at the breakdown Medway were kept at bay. Medway did create several scoring chances out wide but good last ditch tackling and poor execution of two on ones saw the home side stay in the game.
Sheppey’s best chance of game came when Brad Box was put away on the left wing but as he raced for the line a great cover tackle came in from full back David Gwilliam to deny the home side their scoring opportunity.
On 65 minutes Medway finally breached the stern home defence when quick ball from a series rucks and good handling put winger Sam Catling away. He raced in from 30 yards to score an unconverted try and put Medway 16-0 ahead.
Medway still looked to press the home side. Sam Brice, Liam Johnson, Billy Humphrey, Liam Weobley and Kevin Kimble continued to dominate the set piece and provide the platform for a series of attacks however the visitors handling was below par on the day and scoring opportunities went astray.
Sheppey’s players were always under pressure and what ball they did win was on the back foot. Good work from Martin Robinson at fly half often turned slow ball into better possession but it was not enough for the home side.
Medway effectively sealed the game on 75 minutes when Roger Rhyneart finished off a concerted series of quick ball attacks orchestrated by James Dance with a well taken unconverted try on the right making the score 21-0.
Medway looked for the bonus point try and appeared to have it when the broke on the left side, with just Brad Box to beat and no other defender near a poor pass saw Douglas Ebanks denied the try that would have capped the day. Medway however will be pleased with an excellent away win at a resilient Sheppey who will only get better as the season progresses.
Two towering penalties by Simon Rumsey brought Medway their first piece of silverware - before the new rugby season has even started - when they lifted the Spitfire Challenge Cup at Folkestone.
The pitches were looking immaculate, the sun was out when it wasn't raining and seven sides arrived to play in two groups.
Meds had the tougher group, with fellow London 3 side Sheppey, Kent 1 side Whitstable, and a mixed Barbarians side to play.
Sheppey were up first and in a tough encounter Medway started slowly and were penalised consistantly for misdemeanours at the ruck before going behind to a well slotted penalty.
They raised their game a little in the second half and Jason Kay eventually broke a tackle on his wing and darted inside to run in from 40 metres. Rumsey converted and Medway had the first match in the bag 7-3.
Having warmed themselves up against Sheppey, they were in better form against Whitstable and scored converted tries in each half from Kay and No. 8 Roger Rhynheart. Rumsey made no mistake with the conversions and it finished 14-0.
The last pool game brought a Barbarians team into the equation. Invitational sides always enliven this kind of tournament, but despite playing some good running rugby Medway were too strong for them. A hat-trick by Rhynheart, interspersed with tries from Kay and Rumsey and one conversion resulted in their biggest win of the day, 27-0.
On to the semi-finals then and a clash with a young and sharp University Vandals team comprising students associated withthe Folkestone club on their summer break. Their fluency and speed were evident as they took the lead in the first half with a classic move outside after tying up the Medway defence on the opposite side of the field.
Meds responded in the second half, even if they still looked vulnerable in defence. With only a couple of minutes left, Ben Johnson broke free from a tackle and accelerated into the corner, running round far enough to give Rumsey a decent shot for the conversion, which he landed.
At 7-7 the two sides went into a tense extra four minutes and by the rules the first score would win the game.
It was Johnson who again rose to the challenge with another dynamic run in from the halfway line, evading three defenders on the way and getting over the line near the posts. Rumsey converted and Medway won 14-7.
Hosts Folkestone awaited in the final, but the players on both teams were somewhat weary after four matches and the game was littered with handling errors amd stoppages for injuries.
Medway decided to take points when they were on offer and Rumsey kicked those two penalties in the first half for a 6-0 lead.
It turned out to be enough, but only just since near the end of the second half the Folkestone wing evaded two tackles and ran for the corner.
He appeared destined to score and it must have seemed to the Folkestone man that Bobby Ellis appeared out of the ground to make a last ditch saving tackle and put him into touch.
It was their last chance of the day and Medway had won themselves a Cup.