Epitomising the weather for this whole 2012/13 season, the final game was played in appalling conditions, non-stop heavy rain and on a totally water logged pitch at Heathfield and Waldron. Credit goes to both teams who tried to play rugby but the inclement weather rendered this near impossible. Although the score line remained close, Medway were convincing winners due to their near perfect lineout, powerful driving maul, general hunger, desire and confidence in themselves to win the game. Nearly the whole of the second half was played in Heathfield territory and with slightly better execution Medway would have scored more points and won by a greater margin.
The many Medway travelling supporters were all unanimous in the opinion that this was one of the best and most gritty performances of the season. In such poor conditions, with several regulars missing and with little to play for, this could have easily been a game that was lost through lack of commitment and desire. However the opposite was true – the Medway lads put in a great display, more than “fronted up” and tackled brilliantly to stop their opposition dead before they ever got going. To further put Medway’s win into perspective, despite Heathfield’s lowly league position, their form at home since the turn of the year has been very good and this was their first home loss of 2013.
Heathfield played with the elements and slight slope in their favour during the first half and took the lead twice through penalty kicks. On each occasion Rob Longstaff quickly levelled the scores for Medway via penalties of their own. As the half wore on Medway’s dominance, particularly in the forwards began to tell and the home team’s penalty count went up and up. Eventually the ref’s patience ran out and he sin binned one of the home props. Medway had several chances to “catch and drive” their opponents over for a try but were thwarted on each occasion by a spirited home defence. Medway did take the lead on the stroke of half time through another Longstaff penalty kick. 9 – 6 to Medway at the break.
Medway set up camp in Heathfield territory for the second half and rarely let them out. The crucial score came after 19 minutes when Ben Johnson showed great strength and determination to power his way over for a fine try. Medway went close again on a number of occasions including being held up over the Heathfield line but were unable to increase their lead. Their ever reliable line out enabled them to dominate field position and as the game wore on Ben Johnson and Max Easton stole more and more of the Heathfield throw.
The whole team deserve credit for a really good performance but a number of special mentions are in order. Bobby Ellis played out of position at full back and had a fine game in very difficult conditions. Wayne Clayton in possibly his last game before retirement was solid in the centre. Lochy Winkler had his first game at fly half for the 1st XV and did well especially his line kicking out of hand. Lastly, Josh Gibbs in his last game before going back to NZ, led from the front, was often first to drop on the loose ball and out scrummaged his man first at tight and then at loosehead.
Well done to the whole squad playing including the coaching team headed by Taff Gwilliam and the medical support guys, Dan and Martin – a real team effort. This win cemented our 4th position in this competitive league, a great achievement in our first season at this new higher level.
Team; Ellis, Catlin, Clayton, Bagnall, Burns, Winkler, Longstaff, Gibbs, Sandison, Petch, Weobley, Johnson, Easton, Humphrey, Rhynehart, Buxton, Whitnall, Cooley.
The sun finally came out and but for a strong chilly northerly wind, the conditions were near perfect for rugby. Medway were much changed side due to unavailability of their three Kent U20 players and skipper Liam Weobley who had unavoidable work commitments. The game was played in-front of a large crowd which included over forty Medway Vice Presidents and the Worshipful Major of Medway, our President.
Medway prevailed in a keenly contested game where they built a commanding lead in the first half and then had to work hard to keep a good Aylesford team at bay in the closing twenty minutes.
Despite playing against the elements, Aylesford started much the better of the two teams and looked to stretch Medway at every opportunity. Indeed, had it not been for their final pass going astray on two separate occasions, they would have opened up a good lead. Eventually the Aylesford pressure was rewarded when Medway were penalised at the breakdown and the visiting fly half kicked the simple penalty.
Medway slowly started to get a foothold in the game. Whilst under pressure in the scrum, their lineout worked well and Ben Johnson and Max Easton put the Aylesford throw under heavy pressure. After narrowly missing a clear try scoring opportunity, the ref pulled the play back for a Medway penalty under the posts which Dance converted, 3 each. On 26 minutes Medway extended their lead when Max Easton won a great steal on the Aylesford throw, and forwards and backs combined well to release Sam Catlin for a well worked try converted by Dance. 10 – 3.
Having just scored, Catlin was then sent to the bin for a silly trip on his opposite number. Whilst reduced to fourteen men Medway proceeded to confound numerical logic and scored two tries! First an excellent team try where forwards drove up first, and then Dance released Ellis on the switch for him to race away to score under the posts. Conversion by Dance and a 17 – 3 lead.
Aylesford then gifted James Dance an opportunity to gather a loose pass and for him to race half the length of the pitch and score an unconverted try to increase the lead. Finally, on the stroke of half time Dance kicked another penalty to give the Med's an unlikely but comfortable 25 – 3 lead.
Medway lost their rhythm and concentration in the opening 20 minutes of the second half and although they controlled field position comfortably, their lapses either at the lineout or in open play kept gifting easy possession to Aylesford. After 18 minutes Aylesford strung some phases together and scored a fine try; their fly half kicked an outstanding conversion from the touchline. Almost immediately and in response, Dance kicked a simple penalty as Aylesford were again penalised. 28 – 10 to Med's.
On the seventy minute mark, and to make the final ten minutes of the game a little "too interesting", the ref sin binned skipper for the day Wayne Clayton for obstruction. Aylesford threw everything at Medway and came close to scoring on several occasions. With four minutes remaining Aylesford's No. 8 broke from the back of the scrum near to the Medway line and went over unopposed for a simple converted try. Final score 28 – 17 to Medway.
Overall a pleasing win in a game that could easily have been a different story had Aylesford converted their early scoring opportunities. The whole Medway team played well but special
mention goes to Jack Buxton and Lachlan Winkler who stepped up into the first team and both acquitted themselves extremely well. Roger Rhynehart showed prominently throughout the game and James Dance played well (out of position) at fly half contributing 18 points.
Final league game of the season next week (13th April) is away to Heathfield and Waldron.
Team; Winkler, Catlin, Clayton, Bagnall, Ellis, Dance, Longstaff, Gibbs, Sandison, Petch, Buxton, Johnson, Easton, Humphrey, Rhynehart, French, Burns, Cooley.
On yet another bitterly cold and damp Saturday, Medway travelled to play Thanet Wanderers keen not to become the first side to lose to this opposition who are suffering a retched season. Medway fielded a strong side although without two of their influential young charges who are now preparing for their forthcoming trip to play in New Zealand.
Playing against the wind in the first half, Medway opened the game in perfect fashion scoring the opening try after only 90 seconds. Forwards and backs combined well and attacked up the narrow side. Dance released Clayton with a well-timed pass and he unselfishly off-loaded almost on the Thanet try line to put Bobby Ellis in for a good score. Redman kicked an excellent conversion from wide out on the right and Meds were 7 -0 up.
After 8 minutes Thanet hit back and after sustained pressure with efficient re-cycling of the ball allowed their powerful forwards to crash over for an unconverted try. Medway’s forwards disappointed to have been out muscled, immediately hit back with a driving maul of their own which saw them push their opposition back a full 22 metres and allow Billy Humphrey to score the first of his three tries in only 20 minutes of the game. Redman again kicked a great conversion to make the score 14 – 5.
Medway further extended the lead on 21 minutes when having gone through several phases of good play, Humphrey hit a great line and burst through the flagging home defence to score an unconverted try, 19 -5. On the half hour mark, Humphrey completed his hat-trick and Medway scored their forth to secure the bonus point when good team interplay was finished off by another powerful forwards surge. Redman converted again and Medway closed the first half with a healthy 26 – 5 lead.
With the elements and slight slope now in their favour for the second half, there was a danger that Medway might lose focus and concentration. However the visitors opened the second period in much the same way as the first and scored a try in the opening few minutes. Thanet were awarded a scrum near their own try line but Medway’s pack mounted an enormous drive and with the home team in disarray, Josh Gibbs (ably directed by Liam Weobley) pounced on the loose ball to score a very popular (and his) first try for Medway. Redman again added the extras.
With the visitors now threatening to fully cut loose the ref harshly adjudged that Ben Johnson was guilty of dangerous clearing out and binned him for ten minutes. Sensing a respite the Thanet forwards recycled well and drove close time and again and were awarded a string of penalties. Eventually the ref binned another Medway player for persistent infringement and Medway were down to only 13 men. Not unsurprisingly Thanet quickly used their numerical advantage to score their second unconverted try.
When full numbers were restored, and with the injection of fresh blood from the subs bench, via French, Winkler and Cooley, Medway went on to score a further two converted tries through Martin Bagnall and Sam Catlin. Final score 47-10.
Overall, a good all-round team performance where Medway played some good structured play, and scored some good tries. The forwards put the opposition line out and scrums under huge pressure thus making it very difficult for the home team to develop any meaningful play. Thanet never gave up, and when in possession recycled well and used their strong running forwards to good effect.
Everyone played well for Medway but clearly Billy Humphrey scored three tries and generally played very well. Redman kicked 6 out of 7 conversions and very few of these were easy. Coach Gwillam was generally a happy man and pleased with his young team.
Team; Redman, Catlin, Clayton, Bagnall, Ellis, Dance, Longstaff, Gibbs, Sandison, Petch, Weobley, Johnson, Easton, Humphrey, Rhynehart, French, Winkler, Cooley.
Next game is a League match home against Aylesford on the 6th April.
Medway travelled to Deal on Saturday to face a Deal and Betteshanger Lions team that were out for revenge for the defeat they suffered at Priestfields earlier this season. Medway led throughout the whole game as Ollie Best put in a faultless kicking performance converting all six of his penalty attempts. Deal and Betteshanger scored a try in the final minute of the game to level the scores and the conversion attempt from out wide on the left was missed to leave both teams with a share of the spoils. D & B were disappointed not to win the game having scored two tries to none and Medway were disappointed having let a 15 -3 lead ebb away in the final 20 minutes of the game.
The first half was dull and a fairly even affair with the majority of the play between the two 22’s and with neither side able to assert themselves on their opposition. Ollie Best kicked two penalties for Medway, the second of which was remarkable as it was from near the half way line and into a light breeze. D & B’s kicker missed a couple of kicks and therefore Medway led by 6 points to nil at half time.
The second half was more entertaining as Medway drew clear through a succession of simple penalty kicks awarded when D & B were consistently penalised in their own red zone and Best converted on each occasion with aplomb. With twenty minutes to go, and the score at 15-3, the game looked reasonably secure for Medway but D & B had other ideas. They increased the pressure in the set piece and possession seemed to dry up for the visitors. Deal’s simple, yet effective, pick and drive game began to pay dividends and their ball retention improved. Their first converted try reduced the arrears to 15 – 10 and then their fly half kicked a good drop goal to narrow the margin to only three points. Medway attacked again and yet again the home team were penalised deep in their own territory giving Ollie Best another simple kick to steady the nerves of the visitors and open up the lead to 18-13.
As D & B threw the kitchen sink at the Medway line in the final five minutes they were forced into desperate defence. With the last play of the game their resistance finally broke and the home team’s pack drove over to score the try to level the scores. Luckily for Medway, the kick was out wide and proved too difficult for the D & B kicker. Final score 18 each, and neither side were particularly happy with the result or the way they played.
Three leagues games left in the current campaign and Medway need to focus their performances to maintain the creditable fifth position they currently hold in this competitive division.
Team; Best, Catlin, Clayton, Bagnall, Ellis, Wadsworth, Dance, Gibbs, Humphrey, Petch, Weobley, Johnson, Easton, French, Oram, Buxton, Winkler, Morant.
Next game is a League match away against Thanet on the 23rd March.
The score line would suggest that this was another in the sequence of thrilling, nail biting matches between these two sides. However the truth of the game was that Crowborough were worthy winners and only a late rally by Medway made the score board look respectable.
Fine lines separate matches at this level and unfortunately Medway made too many unforced errors to win this game and were punished by an efficient Crowborough performance where their team possibly showed more desire and hunger than the home team.
Straight from the kick-off Medway failed secure the ball and immediately put themselves under pressure. Crowborough squandered two early penalty opportunities before Medway took the lead with their first foray into opposition territory through a Redman penalty. On seventeen minutes Medway almost committed suicide by choosing the wrong option and were lucky to get away with only conceding a penalty via the Crowborough fly half, Yates. Three each.
On twenty seven minutes, Crowborough fielded a loose Medway clearance kick that missed touch and returned with interest. Forwards and backs combined well and the ball was moved through multiple hands to enable them to score a well worked try under the posts. Unexpectantly, the conversion was missed and Crowborough took only an 8 – 3 lead.
Soon afterwards, Crowborough were penalised for a high tackle as Medway attacked. Redman converted the penalty to reduce the arrears to 8-6. Again, and as a pattern for the game, Medway failed to secure the kick off and immediately put them back under pressure. This good field position resulted in a scrum under the Medway posts and with a solid and progressive platform the Crowborough number 8 had a simple task to break off the back and increase the lead to 15 – 6 through a converted try. Half-time was sorely needed by the home team to re-group and plan the second half tactics.
Medway started the second half much the better of the two teams and Crowborough were reduced to fourteen men for persistent handling at the ruck. Medway, using their numerical advantage exerted huge pressure on the away team’s line and despite heroic defence, and after wave after wave of attack, Medway eventually forced their way over for an unconverted try. 15- 11.
Sad to say, but having just scored, Medway failed to catch the kick-off and yet again and put themselves back under pressure. The ref awarded Crowborough a penalty at the scrum and Yates converted to extend their lead to 18 – 11. After twenty minutes of the second half and with the visitors restored to fifteen men, they went further ahead when Medway failed to secure their own lineout on their 22 metre line. Crowborough reacted quickest to a loose tap down and their impressive second row crashed over for a well converted try. The away team were now really in the ascendancy and it looked like being a difficult last twenty minutes for the home team. Medway were penalised at the scrum and Yates, now full of confidence, pushed their lead out to 28 – 11.
Bizarrely and maybe as one should expect in a game between these two teams, as Crowborough pressed for their fourth bonus point try, Medway came to life and played some excellent rugby in the final fifteen minutes. Best came on for Redman and looked very dangerous at full back. On 38 minutes and after huge pressure, Bobby Ellis went over for Medway’s second try converted well by Best. Immediately from the restart Medway moved the ball on the rewind and set Ollie Best free. He went on a thrilling run, beating several defenders before releasing Bagnall to score under the posts which was converted by Best himself. Final score 28 – 25 to Crowborough.
Another competitive and enjoyable game between two good clubs and we wish Croworough well in their push for a play-off promotion place. They are a good side who play good expansive rugby and have strength throughout their team.
Medway’s Team; Redman, Catlin, Clayton, Bagnall, Ellis, Wadsworth, Dance, Gibbs, Sandison, Petch, Weobly, Johnson, Easton, Rhynehart, Oram, Best, Morant, Stapleton.
Next game is a League match away against Deal and Betteshanger on the 9th March.
On yet another bitterly cold Saturday afternoon Medway overcame a spirited Old Dunstonians side in their third encounter of this current season. The previous two matches have been at Medway with the home side running out comfortable winners. This game however was keenly contested and Old D’s showed why they have achieved some notable score lines recently including an impressive win over Aylesford last week. Medway eventually ran out winners but were made to work hard for their victory as the home side hit hard in defence and attacked with flair and determination through their impressive three quarter line. The key difference between the two sides was that the Medway pack had too much power in all facets of the game for their opposition and this showed as all four Medway tries came through their impressive forwards.
Medway opened the game the better of the two sides and were unfortunate not to score two tries in the opening minutes. Firstly James Dance was unlucky to be pulled back by the ref following a powerful drive for the line, and then Rynehart had the ball kicked from his hands as he dived over for what seemed a certain try. To rub salt into the Medway wounds, Old D’s then scored the opening try against the run of play, after fifiteeen minutes when a clearance kick was charged down and bounced perfectly for the following-up home player. Easy conversion, and Old D’s were 7 – 0 up.
Straight from the kick off Medway hit back through a Wadsworth penalty, and then on twenty five minutes took the lead when, after a good forward drive, Captain Liam Weobley crashed over for an unconverted try. 8 – 7 to Medway and the away team looked to be in the ascendancy. Although exerting good pressure Medway lacked composure and precision and failed to convert a further two good scoring opportunities as they were held up after crossing the Old D’s line.
The pattern of the game had been set as Medway’s powerful pack lacked clinical precision and the home sides’ talented backs looked dangerous on the counter attack with the limited possession they received. On one such counter attack near half time, and with a two on one overlap, winger Bobby Ellis was correctly sent to the sin bin for deliberately knocking on, but saving the probable try. Half time score 8 – 7 in the favour of Medway who were looking forward to the following wind in the second period.
The second half followed a similar pattern as the Medway pack dominated, yet the home team’s backs threatened. Medway extended their lead on fifty three minutes via a Roger Rynehart try following a good forwards drive and converted by Wadsworth. Old D’s hit back on the counter attack with a great team try as the ball was moved swiftly through many hands to set their winger free for him to chip over the final Medway defence. On the hour mark Medway’s forward power was rewarded by the referee awarding a penalty try for repeated offence at attacking scrums, 22 – 12 to Medway. Finally Ben Johnson finished off a good forwards drive when he crashed over for the fourth and bonus point try.
Overall a good away victory, against a team that could have easily caused an upset given their recent form. Medway can play a lot better, but their disjointed performance had much to do with much the hard hitting of the home team’s defence and aggression at the break down. Richie Petch came on for the concussed Ross Cooley in the second half with a point to prove, and did very well against two very experienced opponents. Max Easton had another good game in the back row and it was good to see Lachlan Winkler make his first team debut at full back.
Medway’s Team; Winkler, Catlin, Clayton, Bagnall, Ellis, Wadsworth, Dance, Gibbs, Sandison, Cooley, Weobly, Johnson, Easton, Morant, Rhynehart, Burns French, Petch. Next game is a League match home against Crowborough on the 2nd March.
Medway gained revenge for the narrow defeat that they suffered at the hands of Warlingham in November earlier this season but made hard work of a game that should have been won convincingly. Whilst the home team played well at times and scored some good quality tries, they repeatedly made silly errors on a regular basis that gifted Warlingham easy scores to keep them in the game. Every time Medway scored to open up a healthy looking lead, they then made a mistake and conceded to keep Warlingham in the game. Medway scored six tries but conceded five and had it not been for a perfect kicking performance from Redman and Best they might not have won the game.
Warlingham opened the scoring with a simple penalty after Medway overthrew at the first lineout of the game and were penalised at the resulting breakdown. Stung into action Medway responded quickly when following a good forward drive, Wadsworth combined with Bobby Ellis for a well taken try under the posts. Redman converted and Medway took a lead that they never surrendered throughout the whole game. Medway then squandered a couple of good scoring opportunities before extending their lead when Redman, Bagnall, and Oram combined well to set Wadsworth free to score under the posts. 14 – 3 to Medway after twenty minutes, and things were looking good.
However, and setting the pattern for the rest of the game, having established a good lead Medway then made mistake after mistake and let Warlingham burrow their way over for a converted try, 14-10. With Medway playing well and in the ascendancy, Warlingham were reduced to 14 men when they repeatedly infringed at the breakdown. Medway took full advantage scoring immediately when from a good lineout the ball was moved swiftly down the back line and Redman cleverly set Ellis away for his second try and Redman then kicked a great conversion, 21 -10. With Warlingham on the rack Medway then conspired to concede another poor try when they failed to deal with some speculative Warlingham kicks and allowed the visitors in for the simplest of converted tries. Half time 21 -17 to Medway which seemed too close for comfort given the balance of play thus far during the game.
Still playing against fourteen men Medway opened the second half in perfect fashion. Warlingham were penalised at a five metre scrum and James Dance darted over for the try and the simple conversion was converted by Redman. The lead was then stretched further when the Med’s scored a fine team try when forwards and back combined well for Redman to again release Ellis for the latter to complete his hat-trick of tries. With Redman’s conversion Medway had again opened up a good lead 35 – 17. Given the pattern of the game, and as you would now expect, Medway then contrived to allow Warlingham back into the game by conceding another two tries through what at times seemed unbelievable mistakes and the deficit was reduced to only six points, 35-29. A Wadsworth drop goal quickly steadied the nerves of the home crowd and then Medway scored their sixth try via a Warlingham error in their own 22 when George Oram (or was it David French?) scored a try. Ollie Best, now on for Redman, kicked a fine conversion to again give Medway a good lead at 45 – 29.
In such a strange game, Warlingham then scored the final try when after sustained pressure they breached the tired Medway defence and scored a converted try. Final score 45 – 36 to Medway, phew what a game!
Overall, good to get the victory but much to work on in training. Probably like most teams, Medway’s season has been very disjointed since Christmas, hindered through weather and many injuries and they now need to regain the cohesion they had before Christmas. Man of the match went to Max Easton who consistently showed well as a willing ball carrier and also strong in defence.
Medway’s Team; Redman, Burns, Clayton, Bagnall, Ellis, Wadsworth, Dance, Gibbs, Sandison, Cooley, Weobly, Johnson, Easton, Humphreys, Oram, Best, French, Petch.
Next game is a League match away against Lewes on the 16th February.
The strength and depth of the Medway squad was put to the test in Saturday’s return fixture against Charlton Park who had convincingly won the first encounter earlier this season. With numerous players unavailable, Medway’s team was much changed from the one that performed so convincingly in November and December. However, full credit to those who took to the park and against high flying opposition, they ran their visitors pretty close in a pulsating, ferociously competed game. Credit goes to both teams and supporters who behaved impeccably and thoroughly enjoyed the game and post-match entertainment.
In a frenetic start to the match each side traded scores benefiting upon each other’s mistakes. Initially Charlton Park took the lead after only 4 minutes through sheer forward power when their driving maul allowed them to score the first try. Medway responded immediately with a try from Wayne Clayton when CP failed to take the kick off cleanly. Redman converted to give the Med’s a 7-5 lead. Not learning the lesson, Medway knocked on from the CP kick off and the visitors recycled the ball quickly allowing them to crash over for their second try. Conversion good and they took a 12 - 7 lead.
Via penalties on 13 and then 20 minutes Medway took the lead again through the reliable boot of full back Ryan Redman. Stung into action, Charlton capitalised on a Medway infringement at a scrum in their own 22, and taking a quick penalty they crashed over for an easy try to open up an 17 -13 half time lead.
With the elements now in their favour, CP started the better of the two teams in the second half and tried to use their forward dominance to increase the lead. However the Medway lads defended well, weathered the storm and then started to win some ball and stretch the visitor’s defence. Medway’s back row of Oram, Ebanks and Easton carried well and tested the CP defence. Scrum half James Dance was constant threat throughout the game keeping the visitor back row honest.
The key moment of the second half, and maybe whole game, occurred after 27 minutes when the referee adjudged that the ball had been knocked on in a strong double tackle from the Medway backs in their own 22. From the resulting scrum, and with a man in the sin bin, Medway were unable to repel the CP forward power and again they set up their scrum half for the simplest of tries.
Medway desperately tried to recover the game and went close on a number of occasions but the CP defence was very good and held firm. Medway’s only reward was a further Redman penalty and a losing bonus point.
A great game, well contested, and won by the right team on the day. Well done to Charlton Park but also to the Medway team who put in a great battling performance against a strong team who look likely to secure second spot in this competitive league.
Medway’s Team; Redman, Catlin, Clayton, Burns, Ellis, Wadsworth, Dance, Gibbs, Sandison, Petch, Weobly, Johnson, Easton, Ebanks, Oram, Longstaff, French.
Next game is a League match at home against Warlingham on the 9th February.
Sevenoaks prevailed in the third encounter this season between these two teams after the first two games had been won reasonably convincingly by Medway. Credit goes to Sevenoaks who have improved and demonstrated they have now added a strong defence to go with the potent attacking qualities that they showed in the earlier games at the beginning of the season.
It was a disappointing and frustrating day for Medway as they never really seemed to get into top gear and after a bright start, allowed Sevenoaks back into the game to establish a 14 – 6 lead. Although dominating most of the second half they fell into the trap of playing catch-up rugby and as the weather and playing conditions worsened, it became almost impossible for them to play their normal fast and free flowing expansive game. Throughout the game the unforced error count was unfortunately too high and this added to the frustration and severely hindered the flow of the visitors play. Credit must go however to the grit and determination shown by the Sevenoaks team which undoubtedly contributed the Medway problems.
Medway opened the better of the two teams enjoying the majority of possession and narrowly failed to convert a number of good try scoring opportunities. This pressure and field position did result in the home side being regularly penalised and Ryan Redman kicked two penalties to give the Med’s a 6-0 lead. On seventeen minutes the pattern of the game changed when Sevenoaks caught the Medway defence napping as they attacked up the blind side following a scrum. Good hands from the No8, scrum half and backs enabled them to touch down under the posts, 7 – 6 to Sevenoaks. This gave the home side confidence and they enjoyed their best period of the game. They stretched the Medway defence and only a number of desperate try saving tackles kept them at bay. Medway’s penalty count increased and eventually Robert Longstaff was sent to the sin bin. The numerical advantage was quickly seized upon as the Sevenoaks fly-half produced a good off-load to their inside centre, who scored the simplest of tries under the posts. 14 – 6 to Sevenoaks. Medway did reduce the arrears on the stroke of half-time through another Redman penalty.
Medway seemed to spend pretty much the entire second period in the Sevenoaks half of the pitch with the home team only making the occasional foray into Medway territory. However, Medway’s play was not convincing as it was punctuated by handling errors and an inability to retain the ball in contact. The deteriorating weather conditions, muddy pitch and determined Sevenoaks defence all played their part. After a penalty miss by Medway, and against the run of play, Sevenoaks increased their lead through a penalty of their own, 17 – 9.
With Medway in the ascendancy, the key moment of the half occurred on twenty minutes. Medway had gone through their phases and had developed a three on one overlap down the blind side. The Sevenoaks defender read the situation brilliantly; he went for broke and intercepted the final pass. With the Medway team fully committed to the attack he ran the length of the pitch untouched to score under the posts and extend their lead to 24 – 9.
Medway continued to press but the home teams’ stubborn defence kept them at bay. With an increasing penalty count against them, Sevenoaks were reduced to fourteen men for the final ten minutes. Medway converted a simple penalty and then in the dying minutes Sam Catlin broke through to off-load to Bobby Ellis to score a try in the corner. Final score 24 – 17 to Sevenoaks.
Not a great day for the Medway lads who were frustrated with themselves for a below par performance.
Medway’s Team; Redman, Catlin, Clayton, Wadsworth, Ellis, Dance, Longstaff, Gibbs, Sandison, Petch, Weobly, Johnson, Humphrey, Oram, Rhynehart, Brice, Easton, Burns
Next game is a League match at home against Charlton Park on the 19th January.
Medway entertained Brighton at Preistfields on Saturday in the opening fixture of the second half of the 2012/13 season. The game in September 2012 at Brighton ended in a convincing victory for the home side and in truth this game was also controlled for large parts by the Sussex team. However, the improvement in Medway’s play over the past four months was truly in evidence and after dominating the final twenty minutes it seemed a little unfortunate for them not to secure a losing bonus point.
From the kick off it seemed that the three week Christmas break had suited Brighton more than the home side. Brighton, playing with the elements dominated the whole of the first half scoring three tries to nil and opening up a 17 – 3 half time lead. Brighton’s set piece and ball retention meant that Medway were completely starved of possession and when they did managed to win some scraps the Brighton offensive defence inevitably resulted in them regaining possession via turn over.
The game was delayed at half time to deal with a serious leg injury to Medway’s wing forward Hamish McClennan – we wish him well. After the protracted break, Medway opened the second half strongly and after only two minutes stole a Brighton line out deep in their territory. The ball was quickly moved wide and full back Ryan Redman powered over for a good try. Score line now read 17 – 8 and the home crowd were hoping for a stirring second half comeback. Unfortunately, Medway were unable to win quality possession or maintain territorial advantage for the next fifteen minutes and Brighton were able to re-establish control of the game and entered the final quarter 20 – 8 leaders.
To their credit, and after a huge defensive effort, the Medway lads then threw the kitchen sink at Brighton for the final twenty minutes of the game. Despite going extremely close on numerous occasions they were unable to cross the Brighton line whose defence held strong under huge pressure.
Overall the game was won by the right side but it was a useful lesson for the young Medway team about game management and the importance of set piece play. In the final quarter Medway certainly showed what they are capable of and it will give them confidence that they can take the game and dominate any team in this league. All of the team should be proud of their defensive effort and also the way in which they came back to dominate the game during the final quarter where previously they might have folded and conceded further points as they tired.
Medway’s Team; Redman, Catlin, Clayton, Birnage, Ellis, Best, Dance, Gibbs, Sandison, Petch, Oram, Johnson, Humphrey, McClennan, Rhynehart, Ebanks, Brice, Longstaff
Next game is a League match away at Sevenoaks on the 12th January.
The importance of a game of rugby was put firmly into perspective when Medway’s much loved forwards coach Ginger Longstaff, suffered a heart attack during Saturday’s game at Aylesford. Ginger is a well know character throughout Kent rugby who has been associated with Medway RFC for almost forty years as past player, first XV captain, youth coach and now first XV coach. The whole club wish him well and pray for a full and speedy recovery.
It seems somewhat irrelevant to report on the game but the Medway lads did fantastically well to withstand the second half onslaught that Aylesford threw at them after the lengthy pause in the game for the medical staff to attend to Ginger. All of the lads were visibly shaken by what happened on the side lines and it was clear after the restart they had more than rugby on their minds. However after a few wobbles they got their game going again and managed to close out the game with their noses just in front.
Medway had much the better of the first half and dominated the game. They played with pace and ambition and Aylesford did well to limit the score to 13-0 at half time. First half scores came from an Ollie Best drop goal after 7 minutes, a James Dance try on 11 minutes and a fantastic individual try from Hamish McClennan after 28 minutes. Luckily for Aylesford, Medway’s usual metronomic kicker Ryan Redman was having an off day, otherwise Medway would have been further ahead at the interval. Medway arguably played some of their best rugby of the season during the first half with all facets of their game were working well. Even when Aylesford had possession, Medway’s pressure and strength at the breakdown were too much for the home team. Medway combined forward power with sharp interplay and moving the ball around the field with pace and purpose.
After only 2 minutes of the second half the game was stopped for almost an hour for Ginger. Aylesford restarted much the stronger of the two teams, although Medway contributed to their own problems with a series of poor decisions and penalty infringements at the breakdown. Dan Harvey, the Aylesford fly half, converted three quick penalties and after only twelve minutes of the second half Aylesford were right back in the game at 13 – 9. With things looking ominous, the Medway lads dug in and began to win some quality possession and recover their first half form. Fly half Ollie Best and full back Ryan Redman consistently pinned back the Aylesford team deep into their 22 with accurate kicking out of hand. This good field position resulted in Aylesford infringements of which Redman converted two penalties. With 10 minutes remaining Medway pulled clear at 19-9 and the game was looking secure. Aylesford to their credit however never gave up and scored a late try to pull the score back to 19 – 14. After a few final nervous passages of play the ref blew his whistle to bring a well contested game to an end.
Well done to everyone connected with today’s game and events. Both teams played with spirit, respect and fight and the support given by Aylesford to Ginger was excellent and much appreciated.
This is the half-way point of the season and the Medway team are improving nicely and learning to compete at this new level. It has been a pleasure to be involved with a great bunch of lads and we look forward the New Year and seeing Ginger back on the touch line soon.
Medway’s Team; Redman, Catlin, Clayton, Birnage, Ellis, Best, Dance, Gibbs, Sandison, Petch, Oram, Johnson, Humphrey, McClennan, Rhynehart, Easton, Cooley, Longstaff.
Medway approached this game with trepidation as they didn’t want to underestimate a team who were without a win this season but rumours were that they had strengthened recently. Their recent strong performance against high flying Crowborough added to this concern.
Medway opened the game the better of the teams and exerted early pressure. Ollie Best missed a difficult penalty kick and then Thanet came back into the game enjoying good field position. From the beginning it was obvious that Medway posed an attacking threat throughout their team whilst Thanet looked strong in the forwards and attacked close to the fringes.
The deadlock was broken on sixteen minutes when after three consecutive close range scrum penalty offences by TW the ref had no option but to award Medway a penalty try. Best converted to give Med’s a 7 – 0 lead. Straight from the kick off Hamish McClennan drove powerfully, the ball was moved to Best who collected his own exquisite chip, he off loaded to Bagnall who did well to find Redman to score Medway’s second try. Again Best converted to give Medway a 14 – 0 lead.
Soon afterwards Medway scored their best try of the season. The ball was moved at pace and through multiple hands before Bagnall again did a great off-load from close range to give Redman his second try. 19 – 0 to the Med’s.
On 27 minutes Thanet stole Medway ball on the half way line and exerted sustained pressure on the Medway line. Eventually Medway’s defence gave way and Thanet’s forward rolled off the edges of a maul to score a converted try. Spurred into action, Simon Green broke up the middle and Medway were awarded a simple penalty in-front of the posts which Best duly converted. On the mark of half time James Dance took a quick penalty and got behind the TW defence. The ball was moved quickly into the centre where George Oram did well to put Ben Johnson in for a simple try under the posts. Best converted to give Medway a 29 – 7 half time lead and Medway were already assured of the bonus point.
Medway took total control of the game in the first few minutes of the second half. After 3 minutes Bagnall charged down a Thanet clearance quick and then did well to put Simon Green in for a try under the posts. Straight from the kick off Ben Johnson broke free to run half the length of the pitch to score a Chris Ashston type try under the posts. Best converted both to set Medway up at 43 – 7 leaders.
Medway closed out the game with further tries from Roger Rhynehart and Ollie Best. Thanet did pick up a consolation score when James Dance threw a speculative pass that was easily intercepted by the impressive Thanet centre. Video evidence, spectators and press journalist couldn’t believe the stupidity of his actions!
Overall a comfortable win but credit goes to Thanet who never gave up and enjoyed the better of the game in the final 20 minutes when Medway went off the boil. Coach Gwilliam wasn’t particularly pleased and is demanding better concentration and execution from his young charges.
Best kicked well converting 8 out 10 attempts and man of the match went to Ben Johnson who is beginning to rediscover his irresistible form of last season.
Medway’s Team; Redman, Catlin, Bagnall, Green, Ellis, Best, Dance, Gibbs, Sandison, Petch, Weobley, Johnson, Oram, McClennan, Rhynehart, Easton, Humphrey, Longstaff.
Next week Medway take on Aylesford RFC (15th December) away in the League.
In front of forty plus Vice Presidents, Medway’s 1st XV delivered an excellent win against a strong and combative Deal and Betteshanger team.
In the worst playing conditions seen at Priestfields for several years Medway began the game slowly and had to play second fiddle to the visitors. The continuous rain and muddy conditions seemed to suit D&B better than the home side. For twenty minutes the visitors dominated possession and battered Medway’s gain line keeping the ball close and tight to the ruck or maul using their powerful forwards to good effect. To their credit Medway defended well and soaked up the pressure limiting the visitors to a solitary unsuccessful penalty kick.
After twenty minutes the pattern of the game began to change and Medway slowly but surely started to win some ball and exercise their game plan. Whereas D&B attacked close, Medway chose to play with slightly more ambition, moving the point of attack wider – not easy given the treacherous conditions!
Good field position coupled with a steady supply of possession enabled the Med’s to open up a 9 – 0 lead by half time achieved through two Redman penalties and a drop goal from fly half Ollie Best.
Medway’s momentum was carried forward into the opening stages of the second half, After three minutes Ollie Best scuffed an ugly, but successful drop goal to increase the lead to 12. Soon afterwards, the Medway pack showed great power and patience as they battered the visitors try line. Eventually the ball was moved wide for Bobby Ellis to score a well taken try. Redman converted the difficult kick and the game looked secure at 19-0 to Meds.
Deal and Betteshanger then showed what a good team they are as they came roaring exerting huge pressure on the Medway line with only heroic defence keeping them at bay. Eventually the pressure told and D&B scored a good try down the blind side by their powerful right winger.
The final ten minutes of the game belonged to Medway. They played with pace and power and were rewarded with a fine team try finished off by Max Easton. Redman completed the difficult conversion to extend the lead to 26-5.
Overall a very pleasing all-round team performance given the awful playing conditions. Both forwards and backs played well but special mention has to go to the pack that needed to front up to win this match in these conditions.
Man of the match went to fly half Ollie Best who played and kicked particularly well against a side that he was playing for last season.
Medway’s Team: Redman, Catlin, Bagnall, Clayton, Ellis, Best, Dance, Gibbs, Sandison, Petch, Weobley, Johnson, Humphrey, McClennan, Rhynehart, Easton, Oram, Longstaff.
Medway take a break next week and will be back in action on the 8th December at home to Thanet in the League (Saturday 8th December).
When these two teams met last season in both the home and away fixture, they treated the crowd to highly entertaining games that were in the balance until the final whistle was blown. Yesterday’s match at Crowborough was no different, a pulsating game which was won by Medway but could have easily been snatched by the home team as they pummelled the Medway line during the final ten minutes.
As we already knew, Crowborough are an excellent side that have a good balance between forward power and talented backs that play an expansive game. They provide a stern test for any team they play and have a remarkably strong record at home, having lost only one match in the past two years. Credit therefore goes to the Medway youngsters who managed to complete a hard, well-earned away victory which was as much about attitude as it was about ability. They needed to front up, and defend like lions to keep the strong home team at bay.
The first 30 minutes of the game was a stalemate with the majority of the play between the two twenty two’s. Each side traded a penalty but neither was able to achieve dominance over the other. On the half mark the game sprang to life, and for the first time Crowborough managed to string their phases together and spread the ball wide first one way, then the other. Medway ran out of defenders allowing a try in the corner for the home team. The difficult conversion was missed, 8 – 3 to the Crow’s. Straight from the kick off, Medway attacked and were stopped inches short of the line, Crowborough infringed and Redman slotted the easy penalty. On 36 minutes, the reliable Redman kicked another penalty to give Medway a slender one point lead. Two minutes later, Medway extended their lead with a well executed try scored by Sam Catlin and converted by Redman. Stung into action, back came Crowborough; they turned over Medway ball on the half way line, good interplay between their strong back row released their backs to score their second try wide out on the right. Half time 16 – 13 in Medway’s favour.
A Redman penalty and a Crowborough try were scored in the first ten minutes of the second half to keep the score line tantalising close at 19 – 18 to Medway. Crowborough looked to be in the ascendancy when their momentum was broken as they had a man sent to the bin for poor foot work in the ruck. Medway took advantage and Hamish McClennan broke from the back of the scrum, showed great pace and as the cover defence closed in, he floated an inside pass to the supporting Max Easton who completed the try. Redman converted to give Medway a healthy looking 26 – 18 lead.
With 10 minutes of the match remaining a key moment in the game occurred. Medway were awarded a penalty wide out on the Crowborough 22. With the kicking form shown by Redman, the crowd were thinking that he might extend the lead further. Unfortunately scrum-half, James Dance managed to spark off a bout of hand bags between the two teams and as punishment; the ref sent Dance to the bin for the remainder of the game and reversed the penalty.
Crowborough sensed they now had a real chance of winning the game playing against only fourteen men, and threw the kitchen sink at Medway. With four minutes remaining, Medway’s defence was breached and an unconverted try brought the score back to 26 – 23. To the huge relief of all the Medway supporters that was the only score Crowborough managed before the referee blew the final whistle.
A great away win, and credit to the whole squad who put up a superb battling performance. Special mention goes to Ryan Redman for his outstanding kicking performance, six out of six kicks, and to Hamish McClennan who had a mighty game at No. 8.
Medway’s Team: Redman, Catlin, Bagnall, Clayton, Ellis, Best, Dance, Gibbs, Sandison, Petch, Weobley, Oram, Johnson, Humphrey, McClennan, Easton, Dixon, Longstaff.
Next week Medway are home to Deal and Betteshanger in the League (Saturday 24th November).
Medway progressed through to the third round of the Kent Cup when they beat Old Dunstonians at Priestfields under lights on Tuesday evening.
Unfortunately the game was rather a scrappy affair, disjointed for long periods, and full of errors by both teams. The home side enjoyed a significant advantage in the set piece, and this was the key difference between the two teams. The game did however present the perfect opportunity to give important game time to some of Medway’s players returning from injury, and it was good to see Ollie Best, Max Easton, Jim Birnage and George Oram all in the starting line-up. New winger James Woollard was also on the bench, and we look forward to seeing him feature in the coming weeks.
Medway dominated possession and territory during the whole of the first half. Initially they were unable to get any momentum into their game as the error count was high. OD’s did regularly infringe, and this allowed the trusty boot of Ryan Redman to slot three well taken penalties to open up a 9 – 0 lead. Eventually, Medway’s pack got to grips with the greasy ball and No8 Roger Rhynehart scored a push over try. This was shortly followed by a try from George Oram after a powerful lineout drive and good interplay with Ben Jonson. Redman converted one of these tries to give Medway a 21-0 lead at half time.
Old D’s made a few changes at the break and this had a positive impact on their set piece play enabling them to secure more possession for their talented backs to run. They opened the second half with a good try, scored in the centres following clean work at the line out. Unfortunately for them, straight from the kick off, they made a mistake in their 22 which allowed Martin Bagnall to pounce on the loose ball and score a try under the posts. The game then went into the doldrums for 20 minutes with Medway enjoying good field possession but unable to get and fluidity into their play. Eventually the deadlock was broken when from loose play, Billy Humphrey off loaded to Hamish McClennan, who showed good pace to score under the posts. In the dying minutes of the game both sides scored a try each with the Medway score coming from another push over try, this time scored by Hamish McClennan. Redman converted all three second half scores to give him an impressive 17 points from the boot during the game.
Not a game to remember for the large crowd, but the home team played well in patches and it was good to see those returning from injury get back into the swing.
Medway’s next fixture is a tough one, away to Crowborough in the League this Saturday (17th November).
Medway played league leaders Lewes at Preistfields on Saturday and the two teams produced a highly entertaining game for the large crowd. Both sides play an expansive, running style of rugby and Lewes played the game with considerable tempo which never allowed the home team to gain total control.
Overall, this was Medway’s best performance of the season beating a good side and in the process scoring four tries to gain the added bonus point. The forwards worked hard all afternoon providing a steady stream of quality possession. The front five of Petch, Sandison, Gibbs, Johnson and captain Weobley deserve special mention as they were probably the difference between the two teams, they really took the game to Lewes and gave them a uncomfortable time in the scrummage.
Medway played into the wind during the first half and got their tactics right. They carried the ball with purpose with the back row of Dixon, Rhynehart and McClennan all prominent. Half backs of Longstaff and Dance combined well and for the first period of the game Medway enjoyed the majority of possession and good field position. It was a surprise therefore, and against the run of play when the pacey Lewes backs broke down the right flank and scored a well taken converted try. 7 – 0 to Lewes.
Despite the Lewes score, Medway stuck to their game plan and mounted attack after attack. A feature of the game however, was the excellent Lewes defence, and the home supporters began to worry whether the home team would ever be able to break them down. The constant pressure and desperate defence eventually told, with a Lewes man in the bin for consistently killing the ball, Medway’s full back Ryan Redman scored their opening try following good work by Bagnall, Clayton and Catlin. Redman was unable to convert his own try from out wide. Half time score 7 – 5 to Lewes.
Realising that they would need to raise their game, Lewes dominated the first 10 minutes of the second half. Medway were forced into desperate defence and several try saving tackles were required to keep the dangerous Lewes team at bay. The home side introduced fresh legs in Humphrey, Easton and Best and slowly the game began to change in Medway’s favour. On 11 minutes Redman sent a booming penalty kick 50 metres for a Medway lineout. The forwards powerful drive was finished by hooker Sandison as he crashed over for the try. Redman converted. Only three minutes later, Sandison and Humphrey combined well at the lineout and set James Dance free to scamper over for a third Medway try. Redman again converted well from out wide and with the score line at 19 – 7 Medway were looking comfortable. Lewes however were far from throwing in the towel.
The final twenty minutes of the game was a pulsating affair with Lewes attacking at every opportunity often running the ball from deep in their own half. Lewes closed the gap with an unconverted try before Medway extended their lead via a Redman Penalty and then a converted try from winger Bobby Ellis. 29 – 12 to Medway, finally Lewes managed to score their third converted try with 2 minutes remaining, but there was no way back.
Well done to the whole Medway side and special mention to coaches Gwilliam and Longstaff who were clearly very pleased with the performance.
Next week Medway are home to Old Dunstonians in the Kent Cup Round 1 (Saturday 10th November).
Medway can count themselves rather unfortunate not to come away with more from their game against Warlingham this weekend. Warlingham have been in a rich vein of form recently beating three top sides in Lewes, Sutton and Epsom and Crowborough (away) over the past three weeks. However, for large parts of this game Medway outshone their opponents playing with enterprise and attacking flair forcing their opponents into desperate defence and having to resort to “route one” rugby.
Despite losing, Medway should take pride in their performance and heart from the way they outplayed a top side for large parts of this game. If they continue to develop and learn in the way they have recently, then further success will surely come.
Medway played into a strong and bitingly cold wind in the first half. Despite having the elements in their favour it took Warlingham twenty minutes to register the first score through a straight forward penalty from in front of the posts. Medway hit back immediately. In a sweeping move, winger Bobby Ellis cut the home defence and was hauled down inches short of the Warlingham line. The home side infringed and Ryan Redman converted the simple penalty. Three each.
On the half hour mark and against the run of play, Warlingham used their large forwards to good effect. After several thwarted close range drives, Medway found themselves over committed in the maul allowing the home scrum half a simple try that was converted by the accurate Warlingham kicker.
Warlingham extended their lead shortly before half time with another penalty and then lost a player to the sin bin for a tripping offence. Half time 13 – 3 to Warlingham, and everyone was wondering whether this was enough given the significant wind advantage?
Early in the second half Medway conceded a soft, converted try against 14 men. A killer blow that ultimately decided the outcome of the match. It was the one, if not the only occasion that Warlingham managed to release their powerful runners to breach the otherwise strong Medway defence. At 20 -3 Medway could have crumbled and conceded defeat, however they staged a spirited fight back that saw them score two quality tries by James Dance and Bobby Ellis, both converted by Ryan Redman. With a score line of 20 – 17 the home side were forced into frantic defence for the final phases of the game to repel Medway’s sweeping attacks. Alas, Medway were unable to complete a great comeback and the home side were very relieved to hear the final whistle.
Overall, Medway came very close to a good away victory, played some good rugby and with a little more luck could easily have come with a win. Despite numerous injuries, the strength of the Medway squad shone through and the game plan and patterns that coaches Gwilliam and Longstaff preach are beginning to pay dividends. Medway played most of the rugby in this game and with a little more precision in the opponents 22, could have come away with a great victory.
Everyone in the team deserves a mention as they all stood up to be counted in a tough match;
Gibbs, Sandison, Petch, Weobley, B Johnson, Dixon, McClennan, Rhynehart, Longstaff, Dance, Clayton, Bagnall, Ellis, Catlin, Redman, Humphrey and L Johnson.
Medway prevailed over a spirited Old Dunstonians team on Saturday in an important league fixture that keeps them in the mid table points band. Several key players were welcomed back into the fold and many elements of the Medway game functioned well. The front five of Gibbs, Sandison, Petch, Weobley and Johnson worked hard all afternoon to enjoy supremacy in the scrum. The line out went well and the three-quarters looked dangerous and scored five quality tries.
On the other side, Old Dunstonian’s lineout was also working well and when they had possession of the ball, they held on to it well, recycled efficiently and thus forced Medway to defend for long periods of the game. They did not however, possess the attacking threat of the Medway backs.
Medway got off to a perfect start. Within 45 seconds of the kick off, the pack laid the perfect platform in the scrum. James Dance released Bobby Ellis on a switch move and he did exceptionally well to beat a number of desperate defenders to score a try under the sticks. Redman converted. With the Old D’s still shell shocked, Medway took further advantage and extended their lead through a try from a quickly taken tap penalty scored by James Dance. Again Ryan Redman added the straight forward conversion and after only 6 minutes Medway were 14 – 0 up.
Medway were unlucky not to go further ahead when the referee was unsighted when Ross Cooley crossed the line following an excellent forwards drive. To make matters worse Cooley sustained a hand injury and had to be replaced initially by Humphrey and then by the impressive young Richie Petch at prop forward.
After such a lively start Medway took their foot off the pedal and Old D’s got into the game and started to control the ball. For the next thirty minutes they enjoyed plenty of possession and reasonable field position. Medway’s defence held firm and Old D’s only reward for their possession was a straight forward penalty in front of the posts. 14-3.
Just before the interval Medway extended their lead further, Ryan Redman and James Dance combined to release Sam Catlin for a well-executed try, again Redman converted to give Meds a 21 – 3 half time lead.
Initially the second half was a topsy-turvy affair. Within 11 minutes of the re-start Old D’s had scored two converted tries, however on each occasion Medway hit back immediately with good tries of their own. Old D’s attacking threat and success came from powerful drives by their large forwards whereas Medway’s tries were both scored out wide by the ever dangerous Ryan Redman following good work by the backs.
Medway pressed hard at the end of the game to extend their lead further and squandered a number of good scoring opportunities. Redman did convert a penalty kick but credit goes to Old D’s whose defence held firm despite the constant pressure on their try line.
Final score 34 – 17 to Medway and despite a few wobbles in the second half, a pleasing performance and important home win.
Next week Medway are away to Warlingham in the league. (Saturday 27th October).
Medway hosted Hampshire side Tottonians in Round One of the Intermediate Cup on Saturday in perfect playing conditions for rugby. A long injury list and a number of unavailability’s meant that Coach Taff Gwilliam had the opportunity to field a young and relatively inexperienced team against a side who are flying high in second position of London South West 2. To make matters more difficult, debutant George Oram pulled a hamstring during the pre-match warm-up and Medway were forced into playing prop Josh Gibbs in the second row.
Overall the young Medway team acquitted themselves well, especially when considering they were fourteen points down after only ten minutes of the match. The opening exchanges represented the pattern of the game. Medway had a slight advantage in the tight, whereas the strength and running power of the Tottonians back line was the key difference between the two teams.
Having conceded two early converted tries scored by the Totts backs slicing through the Medway midfield, Medway began to get a foot hold in the game and gradually put some of their patterns together. After 34 minutes, full back Ryan Redman fielded a loose clearance kick, he carried then chipped over the Tott’s defence. James Dance was first to the bouncing ball and sprinted through for a try to get Medway back in the game as Redman added the conversion. 14-7.
Crucially for Medway, just on half time they squandered the opportunity to kick the ball off the field to end the half, this allowed the dangerous Tott’s full back to make another powerful run to touch down in the corner. A good touch line conversion extended their lead to 21-7 at half time.
Both sides scored 19 points during the second period. Tott’s tries came from their three-quarters whereas Medway’s tries came around the fringes as a result of impressive work by the Medway pack. Ryan Redman (2) and Liam Weobly were the Medway try scorers and Redman kicked all three conversions.
There were some good performances from the younger members of the Medway team. Full back Redman had an excellent game; Richie Petch worked well in the loose and troubled his opposite prop all afternoon; Rumsey grew into the match at outside half.
Although having lost the game, coach Gwilliam was not disappointed. Indeed, given the difficult pre-match circumstances and strength of the opposition, he was pleased with the character and commitment shown by his young team.
Next week Medway are home to Old Dunstonians in the league (Saturday 20th October).
Following last week’s home win against Sevenoaks, Medway travelled to Charlton Park on Saturday hopeful that they could register their first away league win of the season. Their first half performance was outstanding and it was difficult to believe and comprehend the turn-around in fortunes that happened during the second period. Medway were cruising at half-time having scored fifteen unanswered points and although required to play up a slight slope, could not have expected the onslaught they were about to encounter from a fully committed home team. Park managed to score forty one points in the second period and their strength in the scrum was a decisive factor in the swing of the game.
Medway completely dominated the first period and the only negative was they should have been further ahead at half time having squandered a number of good scoring opportunities. Park’s performance on the other hand was poor and ill-disciplined and could only improve. And improve they did! During the second period they grew in strength, ran good lines and were very clinical with their scoring.
The first half points were scored by Bobby Ellis who did well to force his way over in the corner for a try, by Ross Cooley who scored a try after good interplay between the front row, and one penalty and a conversion from Ollie Best.
Medway suffered two nasty looking injuries near the end of the game with both players leaving the ground in separate ambulances. We wish Max and Ollie well and a speedy recovery.
Overall the score line possibly flattered Charlton Park and Medway should take heart from their first half performance where they completely dominated an obviously strong Charlton Park team. Hopefully they can build upon this and learn to better contain teams when the opposition have periods of superiority.
Next up is Tottians in the Intermediate Cup at home on Saturday 12th October.
Medway took on Sevenoaks on Saturday for the second time this season having beaten them in the Kent Cup five weeks ago by 32 points to 10. On this occasion, with important league points at stake, the two teams treated the crowd to a highly entertaining game of open, fast paced running rugby with fourteen tries being scored in all.
Medway were forced into a last minute team change when Glen Wadsworth pulled a hamstring during the warm-up. Ryan Redman, a recent new signing from Tonbridge Juddians stepped up from the bench and had an accomplished first game at full back. Also of note for Medway, was the first full start of Richie Petch at loose head prop. Richie is a product of our youth scheme and transitioned through Paul Essenhigh’s highly successful development squad. He had a fine game in the loose and along with the Billy Sandison and Ross Cooley in the front row gave Sevenoaks a torrid time in the scrums
As for the story of the game, Sevenoaks enjoyed good early possession but it was Medway who took the lead through two quick breakaway opportunist tries scored by man of the match Douglas Ebanks. A feature throughout the match was the home team’s ball handling which was consistently of high quality with forwards and backs combining to score quality tries. On the 20 minute mark Sevenoaks reduced the arrears with a simple penalty when Medway were penalised at the breakdown. Medway then further extended their lead with a tries from Billy Humphries and a fourth to secure the bonus point by Jim Birnage. Ollie Best converted to give Medway a comfortable looking 22 points to 3 lead. As Medway relaxed this allowed Sevenoaks to enjoy their best period of the game and they scored two converted tries either side of half time to reduce the arrears to only 25 – 17.
At this point of the game it was difficult to pick the eventual winner. Medway had started fast but Sevenoaks were now in close contention and they were playing fast open rugby and had several powerful runners that the home team were struggling to stop. The Sevenoaks inside centre was their man of the match, had a fine game and was a constant threat.
Following a period of truly frantic play where Sevenoaks retained possession in their own half for what seemed like a full five minutes of play, they eventually kicked the ball for touch. The Medway back three alert as ever, took a quick throw in and moved the ball to centre field where full back Ryan Redman sliced through a tiring defence to score a magnificent solo effort beneath the posts. Best duly converted to further increase Medway’s lead to 32-17.
Medway then went on to dominate the next period of the game scoring four high quality tries all of which were converted by fly half Ollie Best. Two of these tries were scored by Bobby Ellis, Jim Birnage got his second try of the match and Ben Johnson scored a short range effort from a ruck close to the Sevenoaks line. At this point Medway had opened up a 60-20 lead and were looking to close the out the game. Sevenoaks to their credit had other ideas and made a successful push to secure the bonus point awarded for scoring four tries. Again they managed to get their big powerful runners going and combined with some indifferent home team defence, scored two unconverted tries.
The last and final try of the game was scored by Simon Green for Medway when he intercepted a loose pass from Sevenoaks as they again tried again to run the ball from deep. Best duly converted to end the game and complete the scoring to confirm Medway winners by 67 points to 30.
Overall a good team performance and plenty of attacking threat from all areas of the team.
Next up in the league is Charlton Park away on the 5th October.
A hard day at the office for Medway’s 1st XV as they travelled to play a strong Brighton team in their second game in London 2 South East with the home team running our comfortable winners.
Brighton began the game in confident fashion and continued to dominate possession for long periods of the game. Their power in the loose and general off-loading game was consistently too much for Medway and despite the score line looking respectable at half time, Brighton were never in danger of losing this game.
During the first half Brighton took an early lead through a well taken long range penalty, Sam Catlin hit back for the visitors scoring an uncovered try. Brighton then took a firm grip on the game and extended their lead through three tries, two of which were converted. Brighton led 22-5 after 30 minutes but to Medway’s credit they rallied and forced their back through two tries of their own scored by Jim Birnage and Doug Ebanks following a flash of individual brilliance by Medway’s number 10 Ollie Best. With the score at 22-17 the Medway supporters were hoping they were back in the game but Brighton soon put paid to that thinking by scoring a converted try just before and then again immediately after half-time.
Although the second half was dominated by Brighton, Medway tried hard to score their fourth try to gain the all-important bonus point but Brighton’s defence held firm and their offensive qualities enabled them to capitalise on Medway stretching the game to score several long range tries on the counter attack.
Overall Medway knew this would be a difficult away game and they will learn from the experience of what is required to play at this level.
Next up in the league is Sevenoaks at home on the 29th September.
The beginning of a journey into unchartered territory for Medway as they hosted Heathfield & Waldron in their first ever league game at London 2 level. Played on a perfect pitch and on a glorious late summer’s afternoon, the game was an evenly contested affair that was narrowly won by the home team.
Heathfield played with the breeze and enjoyed territorial advantage for much of the first half. Medway looked dangerous on the counter attack but were unable to convert any of these opportunities into tries. From the very first of these Medway breaks up field, Heathfield were penalised near their 22 and Ollie Best made no mistake with the kick, 3-0 to Medway after only 3 minutes gone. Heathfield hit back with a try of their own on the 10 minute mark, but Medway then did a good job of containing their visitors and limiting them to a solitary penalty for the remainder of the first half. The front row of Cooley, Sandison and Josh Gibbs battled well in difficult circumstances and the back row covered well with Doug Ebanks looking especially dangerous on the break. Half time score 8–3 to Heathfield and the question was, would Medway be able to lift their game during the second period and make better use of the breeze to maintain territorial advantage and score more points than Heathfield had managed?
We didn’t have to wait long for the answer. Early pressure resulted in a Medway penalty 5 metres out. A brave decision by captain Weobley to run the ball, and he was rewarded when the impressive Billy Humphrey crashed over for the try. Ollie Best converted well from wide out. The home team continued to press and stretch the visitors which caused Heathfield to infringe at the breakdown. Best converted one penalty from 35 metres and then with the penalty advantage being played, Glenn Wadsworth went for a snap drop goal from long range to see the ball sail majestically between the posts. Medway were looking good, 16–8 up with only 10 minutes of the second half gone. However, despite good field position and a number of clear cut opportunities Medway were unable to extend their lead for much of the second half. The strength of the Heathfield set-piece prevented Medway from establishing the platform and dominance they needed to release their dangerous backs. With 65 minutes of the game gone, Medway turned over Heathfield ball on the half way line. Moving the ball quickly from one wing to the other and great hands from McClennan, Ebanks, and Birnage released Sam Catlin to race in from 30 metres to score in the corner.
With three minutes remaining Heathfield scored a consolation try of their own to make the final score 21–13 to Medway. A pleasing win, despite not playing particularly well and credit must go to Heathfield who throughout the game did not allow the home team to settle or establish any real pattern or rhythm to their game.
Thanks go to Mark Packwood who had a fine game as referee.
Next up in the league is Brighton away on the 22nd September.
Medway’s 1st XV squad took on Tonbridge Juddians 2nd XV on Saturday in a friendly fixture as part of the on-going preparations for the forthcoming league campaign. The game was broken down into three, thirty minute sessions on a perfect playing surface expertly prepared by groundsmen Mel Collins and Gerald Farrow. The match official was Niall O’Doherty who had a fine game with the whistle.
Medway narrowly lost to TJ’s in the final of the Kent Plate Cup at the end of last season and as both sides had strengthened their squad’s since the last encounter, another keenly fought, close match was anticipated.
Medway started the brighter of the two sides and early sustained pressure resulted in TJ’s being penalised for killing the ball at the ruck. New impressive fly half, Ollie Best made no mistake with the kick. Judds started to get into the game with good control of the ball, going through their phases and stretching the home side’s defence. However on fifteen minutes, it was Medway who increased their lead. Solid scrum centre field, good passing from James Dance and Ollie Best put full back Glen Wadsworth in at the corner for a well taken try. Immediately from the kick off, Medway knocked on, were penalised at the resulting scrum, were marched back 10 metres for arguing, TJ’s kicked to the corner and then easily drove the line-out maul over for a try. Not very impressive from the home team!
So at the end of an evenly contested “first third”, Medway narrowly led by 8 points to 5, and to the neutral spectator it was impossible to pick the likely winner.
TJ’s enjoyed the advantage of the slight breeze in the second period, but neither side was able to consistently impose themselves on the game. Medway extended their lead when a poor kick from TJ’s was fielded by Wadworth, he released Bobby Ellis and then a fine piece of individual skill from Simon Green gave James Dance the simplest of scores under the posts. Best converted.
The next phase of the game was to determine the final result. Trailing 15 – 5, TJ’s needed to get back into the game and they exerted huge pressure on the Medway line. Try as they might, they could not breach the home side’s rock solid defence and the Medway coaching staff will be delighted with the courage and determination shown by the whole team. Score at end of “second third” remained 15 – 5 in Medway’s favour.
As the final score line suggests, Medway dominated the last session scoring four tries, one penalty and two conversions. Hamish McClennan, who had a fine all round game, crashed over from short range after good work from the whole pack at the scrum. Sam Catlin scored a brace of tries, showing that he has lost none of his threat from last season. Lastly, Simon Green rounded off an excellent team display with a well worked try to end the game. TJ’s to their credit stuck to the task and did cross the Medway line for a consolation try.
Next up is Heathfield and Waldron at home on the 15th September in the sides first league game of the campaign.
On Saturday Medway entertained new league rivals Sevenoaks at Priestfields in a re-match of last season's cup first round encounter where the visitors had been the winners. The Medway side were led for the first time by Bill Humphrey in the absence of Liam Weobley.
The home side played with the elements in the first half and were soon ahead after just 2 minutes through a well taken penalty from young 18 year old fly half Charlie Wardzynski.
Despite the elements at their back Medway struggled to contain a lively and well organised Sevenoaks team. Sevenoaks played with width and had their decision making out wide been better would certainly have scored on more than one occasion.
On 20 minutes Sevenoaks were awarded a scrum on the home line following a fine attack that was stopped short. The visitors drove for the line and as the scrum wheeled the referee correctly awarded a penalty try which was converted and Sevenoaks led 7-3.
As the half wore on Medway began to find their feet. Bill Sandison and Ben Johnson were linking well in the lineout. Hamish McClennan and Josh Gibbs backed up by Max Easton were matching Sevenoaks at the breakdown. Doug Ebanks was sharply away from the set scrum giving the home side a platform to play off.
On 28 minutes Sam Catlin broke down the right and fed Will Alkin who scored an unconverted try out wide. Medway were back in front 8-7.
With just a few minutes of the half remaining it was the impressive Alkin with his second try who increased Medway's lead with another fine break and run following good work from Rob Ellis. Glenn Wadsworth converted for Medway to lead 15-7 at the break.
In truth the score flattered Medway as Sevenoaks had been the better side for long periods and this did not auger well for the second half. If the home side were to get the result they sought then they would have to improve. Improve they did!
Despite conceding the first score of the half to a well struck Sevenoaks penalty for offside Medway upped their game. They improved at the breakdown and set piece. Their ball retention and support play began to pay dividends. Jim Birnage and Glen Wadsworth linked well and with Wayne Clayton and Doug Ebanks carrying strongly in midfield Medway began to get the upper hand.
More products of Medway's Development squad Dean Avery and Richard Petch came on for Lyam Johnson and the injured Will Alkin adding fresh legs to the Medway effort. Martin Farbrace who has worked hard in pre-season completed the second half changes from the bench.
Sevenoaks were forced to concede penalties and with them came a yellow card for the visitors scrum half.
The improvement in the home sides play saw Medway score three second half tries.
On 60 minutes Bill Humphrey ran an excellent line to wrong foot the visitors defence and score an unconverted try.
James Dance scampered over after a series of phases which stretched the visitors defence for his unconverted try then came the try of the match from Second Row Ben Johnson. He broke two tackles on the half way line and then outstripped the visitors cover defence to score. Glenn Wadsworth converted and Medway ran out victors by 32-10.
Despite the score line Medway will be mindful that Sevenoaks controlled this match for significant periods and will need to improve on elements of their game before the two sides meet again in the league.
Medway now play Old Dunstonians RFC in the next round on a date to be confirmed.
Medway continue preparations for the league program next Saturday with the visit of Tonbridge Juddians RFC to Priestfields. TJs were victors over Medway in last years Kent Plate competition.
Medway’s 1st XV squad travelled to Sheppey on Saturday to compete for the Robin Everest Memorial Cup. On a blisteringly hot summer’s afternoon the game was used by both sides as an opportunity to rotate and trial their full squads in preparation for the forthcoming league campaigns.
The game was keenly contested by both sides and the difference between the two teams came down to the strength and depth of the Medway squad and their slightly superior organisation. Sheppey to their credit were robust opponents and will take heart from the performance, they were resolute and disciplined in defence, and used the ball sensibly when in possession. The match was played in good spirit between two young sides, and was very well refereed by the match official.
Medway opened the brighter of the two teams scoring early tries through the two Billy’s, Humphrey and Sanderson. Sheppey then managed to get into the game and through good possession they established field position. After consistent pressure to the Medway line, Sheppey scored two converted tries making the most of basic errors by the away team in their own 22. Conceding these tries fired Medway back into life and straight from the kick off, Sheppey kicked poorly and the Medway back three combined well to put Bobby Ellis away for a very well taken try. Sheppey again went close, but their winger was bundled into touch just short of the line. Half time score Medway 19 Sheppey 14.
Playing down the slight slope in the second half Medway took control of the game and dominated possession, field position and went on to score four more tries through Ebanks, Williams, Rhynehart and Dance. Charlie Wardzynski converted five of the seven tries scored. Sheppey never gave up and made Medway work hard for their tries.
Most pleasing was that this game provided the opportunity for Medway to field new squad members Josh Gibbs and Hamish McClennan and also a number of young players who have come through from the development squad. Charlie Wardzynski had a fine match at outside half, Richie Petch showed great power and promise at prop and Dean Avery performed brightly on the flank. It was also good to see Rob Longstaff and Ryan Dixon back after long term injuries.
Good effort by everyone and Robin would have been proud of the way the two teams played and conducted themselves during the game.
Sevenoaks next week at home in the Kent Cup. Kick off 3pm.