It was a blustery Sunday afternoon in Medway, the sun was low in the sky and there a taste of January in the air temperature when 15 members of the Medway Ladies took to the hallowed green fields accompanied by their youthful manager Jean and superb vocal talent of coach Rachael Burford (who occasionally has been known to pull on a pair of boots herself).
Their opponents, Tonbridge Juddian Ladies had turned up expecting to meet the same team that they had beaten at home in early October, but they had not bargained on the recent successes of the team and the mantra of a birthday girl, “OUR club, OUR turf, OUR win” – This wasn’t heard by either team as no one would come near her for fear of being subjected to her infamous production of toxic gas……..
The game began with Medway playing against the wind and it had the force of an extra player as Medway battled to return TJ’s kick, it was obvious to all including the awesome Medway supporters that a running game was the best option and despite an initial period of outstanding Medway defence, TJ’s took advantage of the wind and scored a try right under the posts.
So, first blood to the enemy eh? It was probably the inspiration that the home team needed as they huddled up and Captain & hooker Siobhan Preston delivered a wakeup speech that would have made Churchill proud, before commenting to her fellow player, that despite the kick being right in front of the posts, the wind may give us an opportunity to prevent the kicker from scoring and attempting (an unsuccessful) charge down. 0-7 after 13 minutes.
Medway upped their game and dominated the next passage of play, some superb attacking skills by prop Gemma Duncan (playing out of position) ably assisted by fellow prop Louise Patrick & lock Shona Mount, consistently kept the game in TJ’s half of the pitch, despite some illegal play. Many a ball was stolen often by a few stray hands in the ruck from TJ’s when the referee was unsighted but Medway would not let them keep the ball for long. Resilient defence combined with awesome tackling by flanker Deborah McCormack (playing out of position) and Ronel Steyn (playing out of position) and solid defensive pressure led to TJ’s spilling the ball which was gathered on the halfway line by fly half, “Safe hands Leanne” Ogston who passed to full back Sandie Thompson who cut through the TJ’s hurriedly forming defence before offloading to outside centre Caroline Jordan who made good ground, passed to winger Nicole McKeating who drew the defender (textbook style!) and then deftly passed to Inside Centre Charly Ward (playing out of position), Charly, at full speed, could not be stopped and scored Medways’ first try of the year , (now we truly appreciated those repetitive & fun handling drills) this was very much a team play & try that Medway fully deserved, and they quietly celebrated, only to then realise that a kicking tee was needed for the returning winger Nicole to kick with!
The wind prevented the conversion and the game continued 5-7, with TJ’s showing that they weren’t happy with the try they had just conceded. Play continued and there were endless scrums with possession passing between the sides – then, minutes before the break, a swift attack down the line from new recruit Selina Parkes, eager to impress with this being her first time starting for the Ladies on the wing, led to TJ’s putting her into touch. Quickly after this TJ’s spotted an overlap and they unfortunately monopolised this opportunity to scoot up the outside and score again. The overlap had been created as Medway only had 14 players as Selina had been injured in the touchline tackle! This time however, the wind appeared to have turned against them and denied them a chance to convert, soon after, the whistle blew, 5 - 12 the score at this point.
A stern word from a Yoda like Burford regarding the defence line made the team vow that this would not happen again. And Captain Siobhan Preston then demanded a try in the first 5 minutes to make up the score.
Medway Ladies started the second half with much gusto but sadly only 14 players as Selina was forced to remain on the touchline. TJ’s could obviously smell victory with this news and continued with 15 players. Medway had the sun on their backs and the bit very much between their teeth, they were determined to stop this from happening, and with the Captains words ringing in her ears and the support of scrum half Anne Robertson, Caroline Jordan scythed through the TJ’s defensive line to put the score at 10-12.
Medways pack took control of the countless scrums and demanded victory many times, (unfortunately, the wind had affected their usual superior lineout) they battled hard, often without thought to their own welfare, which led to many of the team becoming walking wounded and no doubt suffering a plethora of aches, pains, bumps and bruises over the following days, but this was a fine display of total team commitment & after a dominant period of play deep in TJs 22, with 10 minutes to go, another victorious scrum led to a glorious No. 8 pick up by Suzie Williams, quick hands to lock Lauren Harris and then Deborah McCormack who drew her defender before offloading to Sandie Thompson to go over the line and put Medway in the lead. 15-12 now – how would TJ’s react? They had never trailed to Medway before, (and had the extra player too!)
Medway battened down the hatches & prepared for the onslaught, but they came up against nothing to trouble them apart from a kick over Medways’ back line which was gloriously chased by Nicole McKeating, she was within reaching distance of the ball until the Phantom Foot Grabber reached his hand out of the pitch and attacked her just before Medways 22, brought her down on the spot as the ball bounced agonisingly away from her (a true “You’ve Been Framed” moment). But “Safe Hands Leanne” was hot on her heels and far too cunning for the Phantom Foot Grabber; she scooped up the ball (in her safe hands!) and once in space employed her trusty boot to dispatch the ball back into TJ territory!
The home team then decided that another try would nicely finish off the game, and from a lineout showed TJ’s that moving the ball down the back line is an effective way of scoring and, Phantom Foot Grabber victim, Nicole McKeating, now recovered from her ordeal, went over to make the final score 20-12. In the few remaining minutes TJ’s could not trouble their opposition and as the whistle blew a jubilant Medway team emerged victorious and proud to have put on an amazing display of rugby and true team commitment which subsequently has spoiled the unbeaten record of the league leaders.
Back of the Match was awarded to Safe Hands Leanne Ogston and Forward of the Match was Lauren Harris.
Team: Gemma Duncan, Siobhan Preston (C), Louise Patrick, Lauren Harris, Shona Mount, Deborah McCormack, Ronel Steyn, Suzie Williams, Ann Robertson, Leanne Ogston, Selina Parkes, Charly Ward, Caroline Jordan, Nicole McKeating & Sandie Thompson.
Cold and windy conditions on Sunday saw Medway Ladies host Dover in an eagerly anticipated return match following a defeat earlier in the season.
Medway shrugged off the optimistic pre-match statement by team captain Siobhan Preston to score in the first 5 mins, but as the whistle blew for kick-off, Medway were raring to go and got the game heading in the right direction a little earlier than anticipated with great handling in the back line that saw the ball get passed to winger Charley Ward to score Medway's opening try within just the first few minutes!
With the scoring already underway, Dover realised Medway were not going to make the game easy for them and both teams stepped up a gear. Possession remained mostly with Medway in the majority of the game – attacking relentlessly to a deflated Dover side. Medway's ball handling and linking play from forwards and backs alike was outstanding and produced some great play that saw them continuously pushing up-field.
Lineouts were fiercely contested but with gusty winds it was hard to keep them under control from both sides, a different story evolved in the scrums however, as Medway dominated and stole possession many times enabling quick balls out to the backs to face an un-prepared Dover back-line.
Within the first 10 mins some great forward work developed creating a rolling maul that enabled 2nd Row Gemma Duncan to peel off and off-load the ball with perfect timing to No.8 Suzie Williams who saw an opportunity in Dovers splintered defense to crash through and score.
The second half saw both teams eager to continue the fight; Dover pushed hard at Medway which saw some good attacking play strongly defended by the home team where possession soon turned back into the their hands and once again, great communication and handling saw the ball travel across the pitch into the hands of Gemma Duncan who exploded over the line for Medways 3rd Try.
Dover retaliated with determination and used some quick runners and good footwork to dodge Medways defense and run in a converted try under the posts. Shortly after another Dover try followed. Undeterred, Medway continued but possession was split between the teams with Dover determined for another score. A penalty on Medway's 22 gave Dover this opportunity to which Medway defended relentlessly until Dover eventually weaved through a gap to score again under the posts, making the score line 17-17; at a tense moment, Medway held their breaths as Dover kicked for the conversion that could see them take the lead for the first time in the match, however, as the ball bounced from the post, Medway sighed relief and used the opportunity to continue the game even more determined not to give up the fight. Some great clearance kicks by No.10 Leanne Ogston and great hands from fullbacks Tina Martin and Sandie Thompson relieved the pressure that Dover tried to force upon the home team and got them re-focused on winning the game. 2nd Row Lauren Harris got Meds back on track when she pushed forward into contact, offloading to Winger Charley Ward who carried the ball from the halfway line, seeing off several Dover defenders and scoring in the far corner to get Medway back into the lead. With just a few minutes left in the game, Medway returned to dominate in attack and were once again pushing upfield into Dovers territory. With just 30 seconds left, excellent support play from Sasha Bloomfield saw her crash across the try-line under the posts to signal the end of the match. A successful conversion by Alison Smith finished the match at 29–17 to the home team.
Team: Tamara Bent, Siobhan Preston (C), Alison Smith, Gemma Duncan, Shona Mount, Lauren Harris, Debbie McCormack, Liz Shaw, Suzie Williams, Ann Robertson, Leanne Ogston, Charlie Ward, Sasha Bloomfield, Tina Martin, Selina Parkes, Caroline Jordon and Sandie Thompson
Still riding high on last weeks victory, Medway travelled to Beccehamians on Sunday with the same determination to prove their continued effort at training is paying off. Kick-off by the home team into Medway's half saw them committed from the start, charging straight back in attack running the ball hard into Beccs defence. They tried hard to keep Medway out of their half but were unsuccessful as Medway continued to force pressure on their defence. Winger Charley Ward opened the score sheet for Medway after the pack worked hard to get the ball to Beccehamian's try line but failed to place it over. Some quick thinking and good communication got the ball out to the backs that displayed great hands to get it to the winger who placed it down. From the restart Medway once again, pushed straight back into Becc’s half. Great communication by Medway enabled quick ball from the breakdowns that allowed Medway to continue the domination in the oppositions half. Medway's second try came after no.9 Tina Martin (new to the position) looped into the backline receiving the ball on the wing before some excellent footwork caught the opposition off guard allowing her to cut straight back in and score right under the posts. Alison Smith's conversion carried the score 12-0 into half time.
Medway's determination continued into the second half as their relentless and tight defending forced Becc’s to make mistakes time and time again. Great tackling by Medway stopped the opposition in their tracks never really letting them break away, with out of position Caroline Jordon and newcomer Selina Parkes putting in some try-saving, text-book tackles. Borrowed player Jess Thorne put her mark on the game by crashing through Becc's defensive line securing Medway's third try back under the posts allowing another successful conversion by Alison smith. By this point Beccahamian's frustration was beginning to show helping to fuel Medway's determination. The scrums were fiercely contested and although each side was evenly matched. Still Medway proved they would not give up easily and took full advantage of a Becc's put-in at halfway as they forced them off the ball and quickly pushed up in attack with Gemma Duncan drawing several defenders before making a perfectly timed offload to support runner (and birthday girl) Debbie McCormack to score Medways final try to finish the score 24–0.
Team: Tamara Bent, Siobhan Preston (C), Alison Smith, Shona Mount, Lauren Harris, Debbie McCormack, Liz Shaw, Suzie Williams, Jess Thorne, Charlie Ward, Sasha Bloomfield, Gemma Duncan, Tina Martin, Selina Parkes, and Caroline Jordon.
Medway hosted their second home game of the season to Worthing, with a fierce determination not to lose twice on home ground. Although Medway didn’t make it easy for themselves, that determination proved successful as at full time they walked off the pitch with a well deserved victory. The two teams joined together on pitch to observe a minutes silence to those who are gone but not forgotten.
Kick off saw both teams ready for action; a kick by Worthing deep into Medway’s half – caught nicely by the home team saw them run it straight back into Worthing’s 22, although Worthing soon pushed Medway back into the danger zone – trying hard to break their line, but Medway held fast; stopping the Worthing side in their tracks.
A turnover of the ball to Medway allowed some quick hands to get the ball to Caroline Jordon who, seeing-off a couple of Worthing’s players- powered down the wing, placing the ball down at the 5m line thinking she had hit the try-line. Worthing crept back into Medway’s 22, but undeterred they fought on. With the line-outs (proving to be more and more successful) Medway won the ball and passed it off the top to no.9 Ann Robertson who gained ground before getting it out to the backs where (through good linking) the ball was offloaded to returning player Sasha Bloomfield who powered through Worthing to score the first try of the game.
Medway started the same way from Kick off with both teams yo-yoing back and forth for ground. Some good mauling from Medway soon pushed the ball down into Worthing’s danger zone, they quickly reacted to try and take it back out, but Medway’s defence was on them. A ball to Suzie Williams allowed her to plough through Worthing’s defence and run what looked like a try under Worthing’s posts where she was stopped short at the 5m line, but not before offloading to Ann Robertson who through good communication passed the ball to Alison Smith and then to Debbie McCormack to see Medway take a second try.
Unfortunately, a lapse in concentration allowed Worthing through the defence to take one back, which was successfully converted to take the score to 10 – 7 just before the end of the first half.
Strong scrums from Medway saw alot of Worthing balls turned over, added to the powerful mauling Medway demonstrated, they proved to dominate Worthing throughout most of the match. Medway’s third try came off such mauling with captain Chev Preston taking the ball in, supported by Gemma Duncan who managed to peel off and get the ball out to some quick hands that created space for Charley Ward to secure the final points.
The last five minutes proved tense as Medway battled to keep Worthing off their line through a series of unfortunate errors, determined not to let them breach their defence again – Worthing tried, but a kick from Sandi Thompson signalled the end and sealed the victory.
Great communication and teamwork proved a successful formula for Medway and they will be hoping to carry this forward for when they meet Beccehamians next Sunday.
Team: Alison Smith, Chev Preston (c), T-J Harris-Mills, Gemma Duncan, Debbie McCormack, Suzie Williams, Ann Robertson, Chris Guerney, Caroline Jordon, Charley Ward, Sasha Blomfield, Sandi Thompson, Lauren Harris, Liz Shaw, Shona Mount and Jean Farbrace.
Medway travelled to Canterbury on Sunday determined to improve upon previous performances and to play some good rugby.
With Canterbury struggling for numbers, the game went ahead at 12 aside; giving Medway an immediate advantage with their 17-strong squad.
The game kicked off with Medway showing their determination and dominance with good attacking play and hard hitting scrums. Possession remained mostly with Medway in the opening quarter, with Canterbury fighting back to steal possession at breakdowns. Utilising this opportunity- Canterbury offloaded the ball quickly down the line to a runner on the wing who scored under the posts.
Play continued in a similar pattern further into the half where Medway continued to dominate in attacking play but left Canterbury to exploit gaps within their defensive line where they ran in a further try.
Medway’s backs made good of a bad situation when Tina Martin picked up a loose ball to run around Canterbury defenders and secure Medway’s first try, however this was again followed by a Canterbury score when their runners on the wing weaved through the defence to put the ball under the posts.
Medway, undeterred of the score line, fought back by working hard to get themselves organised quickly on their defence, which saw things quickly improve. With Canterbury’s runners now not given so much space, both teams were working hard to gain ground but possession remained mostly with Medway, where out-of positioned Suzie Williams punched through several Canterbury defenders outside their 22 to run in a try under the posts.
Into the second half, Medway had renewed energy and both teams worked hard in both attack and defence with Medway making the most of several penalties awarded to them through some dangerous high tackles from Canterbury. One of these penalties just off the 5 metre line saw No.9 Ann Robertson take a quick ball out to second row Debbie McCormack who crashed through the line to score just off the post.
This continued attack saw many more opportunities for Medway and an excellent run from Charley Ward supported by Gemma Duncan saw the ball offloaded to Shona Mount who took the ball further up field supported by Kelly Cooke who ran in the disallowed try for an unfortunate forward pass.
Canterbury retaliated with a return try but through further Canterbury errors, Medway utilised a further penalty that TJ Harris-Mills saw the opportunity to take quickly, charging through several defenders and offloaded to No.10 Chris Gurney who took the ball over the line to mark the end of the match which finished 31 to Canterbury, 20 to Medway. A great overall performance by the team saw a substantial improvement and many positives to take forward to the next game.
Forward of the match went to second row Debbie McCormack for her continual support play and running of the ball helping to gain ground.
Back of the match went to Suzie Williams for playing out of position and making excellent runs, punching through the opposition defence.
Team: Natalie Jemmit; Siobhan Preston (C); TJ Harris-Mills; Alison Smith; Shona Mount; Lauren Harris; Debbie McCormack; Caroline Jordon; Suzie Williams; Ann Robertson; Chris Gurney; Leanne Ogston; Kelly Cooke; Charlie Ward; Sasha Bloomfield; Gemma Duncan; Tina Martin.
Medway Ladies next match is to Worthing Ladies on 13th November, 2pm KO at Priestfields, Rochester.
If you are interested in playing Women’s/ U18/ U15 girls rugby, the ladies team train on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings at 7pm at Medway RFC. Please feel free to come along- all abilities welcome. For more information please contact Tina Stone on 07972 101770.
After a disappointing defeat to Dover last week, Medway were looking to learn from their mistakes and to play some better rugby- and that's exactly what they did.
From the start it was obvious that the match was going to be tough for both sides, both teams were strong in attack and competitive play saw the ball move quickly from one end of the field back to the other. In surprisingly warm conditions, Medways defensive line left a few holes that TJs quickly took advantage of by scoring an unconverted try taking them into the lead inside 10 mins.
The scrums proved to be Medways ground as, after a few shaky starts and troublesome binding, the pack continuously pushed back the Tonbridge Judd’s side until after 20mins they had to call for uncontested scrums. However, Medway played on undeterred and excellent line communication by the backs saw a quick ball passed down the line to winger Cheryl Beech who broke through T.Js defensive line with exploding speed to secure Medway a try between the posts. A successful conversion by Alison Smith saw Medway take the lead.
Into the second half Medway conceded a few penalties that saw T.Js push the Medway defensive line back enabling a quick run by a T.J player, chased closely by several Medway backs, to score a try in the far corner.
Medway hit back with controlled and disciplined rugby, and as a result they were able to make considerable headway up field, pushing T.J’s back towards their own line for the next 10 minutes. However, a dubious decision on a tackle made by Medway left them with 14 players with just 18 mins left.
Medway, not giving up the fight, dominated with second row Lauren Harris taking the ball from scrum Half Ann Robertson and powered up the blind side, punching through several TJ defenders, taking Medway further out of their own half and putting them in a great position in which they continued to attack from.
Although Medway could no longer show their power through the scrum, throughout the game, Medways forwards dominated in the lineout’s with lifters Suzie Williams, Lauren Harris and Natalie Jemmit giving 100 percent effort to get jumper Debbie McCormack in the air enabling them to steal almost all of TJ’s balls and retaining possession of their own.
A blood injury to Beech stopped play before a penalty could be awarded to TJ’s and with a quick restart by the referee, Medway (still with water bottles in hand) were unprepared as T’Js pushed forward in Medways 22. Medways defensive line worked hard to hold back the attack for a while but ultimately proved to seal T’Js win with a converted try finishing the game at 27-7 to TJ’s.
The whole team proved their commitment and effort throughout the game and, although not reflected in the score, this showed on the pitch and produced some great rugby. An excellent team-effort with special mention to T.J Harris-Mills and Shona Mount who played their first games for Medway and contributed significantly to the team’s great overall performance.
Player of the match went to No.10 Chris Gurney for her communication amongst the team on the pitch and her hard work involving the rucks, and to second row Lauren Harris for her impressively powerful runs and hard work throughout the game.
Team: Natalie Jemmit; Siobhan Preston (C); TJ Harris-Mills; Shona Mount; Lauren Harris; Debbie McCormack; Caroline Jordon; Suzie Williams; Ann Robertson; Chris Gurney; Leanne Ogston; Kelly Cooke; Charlie Ward; Cheryl Beech; Alison Smith; Rachel Evans; Sasha Bloomfield; and Gemma Duncan
Medway Ladies next match is against Chelmsford Ladies on 23rd October, 2.30pm KO at Priestfields, Rochester.
If you are interested in playing Women’s/U18/U15 girls rugby, the ladies team train on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings at 7pm at Medway RFC. Please feel free to come along - all abilities welcome.
For more information please contact Tina Stone on 07972 101770.
It was supposed to be Medway's opening league game after promotion, but a series of misunderstandings brought an hour's delay as Lewes were unable to provide a referee. In the end they played a friendly match and while there weren't any points at stake the visitors did return home with a victory under their belts.
Both teams started strong, but Meds gained the advantage by pushing the attacking home team back into their own 22 on several occasions. Exploiting this opportunity they produced excellent and continuous phase-play before newcomer Charlie Ward registered the team's first try of the season.
The Medway pack dominated scrums with second row Lauren Harris making an impressive debut in senior rugby.
The fowards were able to steal opposition ball in the lineout and worked hard to get the ball out to the backs, producing some great runs from Caroline Jordan and Cheryl Beech which gained vital ground.
The two teams found new energy in the second half and tackles were solid and well executed.
After conceding several penalties at the ruck, Medway took control and pushed upfield where a penalty was then awarded in their favour. Quick thinking by scrum-half Ann Robertson took her past seceral Lewes defenders, with close support from number eight Suzie Williams, to the line for Med's second try. Alison Smith converted and it was pretty much done and dusted.
Lewes fought back with more conviction, but some great tackles by Tina Martin and Alison Smith made sure they didn't break through.
Player of the match for Meds was number ten Chris Gurney, returning to Medway 26 years after playing her first match at the Club and having an undoubtedly impressive and influential impact on the team.