Last weekend Medway’s Under 16s travelled for hours and hours north on tour in Edinburgh.
They competed in a round-robin tournament of 6 teams over two days for the Capitals Cup…..ably supported by the Development Squad,…. a picture of professionalism and decorum.
First up was Biggar, a strong outfit from Scotland. The Medway lads immediately shook off the previous days’ fatigue, and set about their task. Fast interplay between forwards and backs saw space created for fullback Lare Erogbogbo to go over in the right hand corner. Next up, Kaine Dimech powered through the Scottish defence, and outpace the chasers to score Medway’s second try. Biggar scored a try in return, before centre Josh Rann anticipated an attacking move, and intercepted from 30 metres to go in under the posts. Last to score was debutant Dan Barnard, who juggled the ball on the right wing, knocked it over his opposite numbers’ head, and regathered it as he dived in at the corner. Big Dave O’ Hanlon was integrity personified, as he acted as TMO for the referee, and helped him make the right decision. Owain Morton slotted the extras, and Medway were off to a great start with a 22 – 5 victory. Medway suffered one casualty with the loss of Josh Rann in the centre with a shoulder injury, although he was still able to send text messages to his girlfriend.
Next up was local team Haddington. Once again Medway played with freedom and pace, as they kept the ball alive, and moved it around at every opportunity. Slick hands saw Owain Morton go over on the left hand side, before Lare Erogbogbo repeated the trick on the right. Haddington responded with a try of their own, as all the Medway lads stopped to laugh at Kaine, who had just copped one in the face. Next to score was Pagey who looped round, and took the scoring pass out on the left. As the game neared its end, a wide pass to centre Hadley O’Connor was dropped forward…unfortunately for Haddington the referee missed it, and Hadders scooped up the ball, and sprinted in from 50 metres. Apparently, Milo slotted a drop-kick conversion during the match, to make the final score 27 – 5….but I never saw it.
The final game of the first day, saw Medway take on the giants of another touring team, Old Halesonians from Birmingham. This team was sharing Medway's luxury high-security CCTV-strewn hostel in Edinburgh….so hostel pride was at stake. Medway started slowly, and allowed the ‘yellows’ to dominate the first half possession….eventually this dominance yielded a try for the boys from the black country. Conversion missed. A further spell of pressure saw the yellows slot a penalty to go 8 - 0 ahead. Medway didn’t panic, and had a quiet little chat at the break to change their game plan, after sportingly giving their opponents a nice little head start. In the second half, it was Medway who controlled the game….fierce tackling and more numbers committed at the breakdown saw Medway dominate the ball. Cheered on by Hagrid, in his last game for Medway with a head….the boys attacked relentlessly.
Medway stole a lineout 5 metres out, through Ollie Brooks, who popped the ball to Sean Marriott …he fed Owain Morton, who had already called the move, which saw Lare Erogbogbo crash over near the posts for a great try. Crucially Morton slotted the extras. As Medway continued to press, the ‘yellows’ held on grimly, and eventually gave away a penalty, as Milo discussed pleasantries with his opposite number (4 games out of 5 Milo.). Owain stepped up, and struck the penalty clean through the uprights. The final whistle saw Medway victorious 10 – 8 in a great game.
There was no cheer on this occasion from Hagrid, because he had lost his head in all the excitement.
(R.I.P Hagrid.) :’(
Sunday morning saw the slightly jaded lads take to the field against Heriots Rugby Club. Medway played with even more width and freedom than the previous day, and put on a great spectacle for the supporters. Tight head prop Harry Fields bravely played the first half with what was later shown on X-rays to be a broken hand. This injury was not sustained on the rugby pitch, but was sustained in his hotel room, and is certain to see him miss next week’s Kent Sevens.
Medway’s team attracted some admiring glances from the local YMCA, as Owain and Harry sported some very tight white shorts purchased at the Edinburgh V Toulouse match the previous afternoon,…the pride on Martin Stanford’s face can not be put into words.
It’s at this point that the supporters lost a bit of focus, and failed to record all the scorers…..but for the record, it was something like this….four tries scored….Harry Stanford, Lare or Lola, Lola or Lare, Lare or Lola. We believe the conversions were slotted by Owain. Medway definitely won 26 – 0.
The final match beckoned, Medway had one hand on the trophy, but had to beat unbeaten Murrayfield to take the prize back down south. Once again, the lads smashed it. Attack after attack was thrown at their rivals, who tackled bravely, but could not compete with the pace and support work. Forwards linked with backs, and backs linked with forwards. Owain and Harry linked with each other. Medway dominated from start to finish, scoring 5 tries…..which we believe were scored by Lola, Lare, Owain (YMCA), Pagey and Vinay. With three conversions to the YMCA, Medway ran out convincing 31 – 0 victors, and took the spoils with an unbeaten record.
This was a fantastic performance by all the lads, who repeatedly play their best rugby when they have no sleep, and are nursing hangovers from too much lemonade and chocolate. The Medway lads have good friends and team-mates who could not make the trip through other commitments or injuries…..and their fingerprints are also on the trophy.
Medway’s skipper Lola, received the trophy to much cheering and celebration, and choruses of Running Bear and I’m A Believer.
Player of the Tournament, as voted by the organizers went to Owain Morton.
Player of the Tournament , as voted by the Medway players went to Ollie Brooks.
Thank you to all the players present and not present, the parents, supporters, coaches, managers, Divs, Prince Albert, the gorgeous blonde one on the chair, Tours 4 Sports, Little White Dove etc….etc….
Medway’s under 16s boarded their luxury double-decker coach on Sunday….hoping for a pleasant day out at the seaside and a nice picnic. It turned out to be a fantastic day at the seaside, but the picnic was cancelled due to torrential rain, driving winds and freezing temperatures.
The opposition posing the questions this week were Lewes, who are a strong outfit from the Sussex 1st Division.
Medway lost the influential Kaine Dimech with a recurring leg injury, and Harry Fields dropped out in the warm-up after straining an oblique muscle in a midweek power-lifting competition. The journey also saw the non-playing return of the popular Alex Page, who has missed 10 matches following a broken wrist sustained early in the season. The squad also composed new recruits James, Jay and Charlie who were watching the Medway lads for the first time. Club WebMaster Pat Nolan also made the trip to support the lads, and to test out his new underwater camera.
In very bad conditions, the home club generously switched pitches from the swamp in front of their clubhouse, to the comparatively arid surface on their show pitch.
Medway chose to play into the gale, but were slow to start and gifted Lewes an early unconverted try, following a number of weak defensive tackles. Lewes attempted to capitalise on Medway’s generosity with some strong runs from their excellent No8, but he was well-tackled this time….and Medway were about to ruin the party.
The Medway lads set about playing 30 minutes of fantastic close-quarter driving rugby through their forward pack, combined with great attacking lines punched-up through the 10 channel. Ollie Brooks was magnificent in destroying Lewes’ 4-ball lineout, combined with numerous great tackles. Skipper Lola Erogbogbo lead by example with powerful breaks, and excellent disruptive work at the break down. Credit should go to the entire pack; Alfie, Dylan, Omar, Cian, Ollie, Harry, Miles and Lola…..who played the conditions perfectly, with great physicality combined with control and good decision making. The forwards’ effort was equally matched by the backs, who tidied-up many clearance kicks with interest…..and tackled brilliantly in the midfield……Josh Rann and Leo Watts putting in a superb performance. Flyhalf Alex Saddington is also a nightmare to defend against, as he pitted his dynamic pace against Lewes’ backline defence over and over again.
Medway dominated the half, but were unable to break Lewes’ resolute defence……and the half time break saw Lewes still ahead by the solitary try.
With the wind at their backs, and possession well in their favour…….Medway might have weathered the storm ?
Owain Morton came on at flyhalf, with Saddington moving out to the wing for Rhys Townsend….in an attempt to exploit both the wind and Saddington’s pace. Dominic Kempt came on for Will Munday on the wing.
Medway started where they left off, and drove downfield, through Lare Erogbogbo and Omar Woodrow-Thorne. Fast ball from scrum-half Sean Marriott, enabled flyhalf Morton enough time to kick skilfully to the corner, and pin Lewes back on their line. From the resultant lineout, Lola stole the Lewes throw-in at the front…..Medway drove the ball to within 5 metres…..where Sean Marriott threw his trademark dummy, and cut through the backfoot defence to go over for a great equalising try. Conversion missed.
Medway continued from the kick-off as loose-head Alfie James rose like a salmon to gather the slippery ball, and charged off downfield…….Medway’s pack secured the ball, and continued driving downfield with strong drives, and clinical rucks………any slow ball was controlled, and recycled to ensure possession. Lewes’ frustration at being denied possession, was compounded as tight-head Omar Woodrow-Thorne smashed his way over for a try from 10 metres to put Medway ahead. Conversion missed. Medway lost Alex Saddington with a knock to the head, and the excellent Sean Marriott with a calf injury shortly afterwards.
Although Medway resumed in similar vein, the referee then had a bout of penalty-itis…..and awarded a World Record number of successive penalties against Medway. The inevitability of this 5 minute spell resulted in a try for Lewes entirely against the run of play, which they converted to go 12-10 ahead.
The incensed Medway lads hit back, with 8 minutes remaining…..lead by the dreadlocked warrior Omar, who stole Lewes’ ball and set off on a powerful 40 metre run into the heart of the home side’s defence…..as Medway followed up in numbers, Lewes killed the ball…..and the referee awarded Medway a penalty 30 metres out.
Flyhalf Owain Morton stroked the ball firmly out of the deep mud, and watched it sail majestically over the posts, to put Medway deservedly 12 – 13 ahead.
Lewes tried everything to attack Medway in the last 5 minutes, but were continually knocked back in the tackle…..and had to stop a further superb run from the rampaging warthog.
The game was up, and as the ball was hoofed off the park the final whistle sounded to loud cheers from the grandstand.
This was another outstanding performance, in the toughest conditions by Medway, with team unity and game understanding once again to the fore.
Great performances by everyone, were capped by Harry Stanford, Ollie Brooks and Alfie James…….but Man of the Match went to Sean Marriott who controlled the game from scrum half in truly challenging conditions.
The Medway lads made the long journey to West London on Sunday to take on mighty London Irish. This prestigious fixture had been cancelled in previous seasons owing to bad weather, however this was not the case on this occasion, as the lads assembled in the large grandstand and soaked up the early morning sunshine.
The warm up was superb, and it was clear that Medway were focused and prepared to give of their best against their lofty opponents. The London Irish team sported 7 Academy players, and 2 England players.
The game kicked off on the large pitch, and immediately Kaine Dimech smashed the Irish catcher…..welcome to Medway.
The opening 15 minutes were frantic, as Medway’s forwards hit ruck after ruck, and secured much useful ball…..Medway threw the ball wide and tested the Irish back line defence, which proved to be very solid.
During these early exchanges, it was clear that Irish were very powerful in attack, especially from turnover ball…..and several dangerous attacks were only snuffed out by great cover tackles from Leo Watts, Alex Saddington and Hadley O’Connor.
It was London Irish who opened the scoring, as they stretched Medway’s defence wide to the right, before spinning the ball the opposite direction to score a good try in the left hand corner, despite a great final tackle from Ollie Brooks.
Medway surged straight back, after securing the kick-off, and attacked left through powerful drives from Omar Woodrow-Thorne and a burst in the centres from Josh Rann. Medway secured a scrum 30 metres out, which Irish deliberately wheeled, and the excellent referee, awarded Medway the penalty, which flyhalf Alex Saddington calmly slotted. (5 – 3.)
Irish responded 5 minutes later, as they pounced on an overthrown lineout….their powerful backrow offloaded to their very fast centre, who sprinted in at the corner from 30 metres. The touchline conversion went over off the post, and Irish were 12 – 3 ahead.
Once again Medway responded, as they drove into the Irish half….a great passage of play saw fullback Lare Erogbogbo take the ball on an inside move and make 20 metres, before it was recycled again, this time Kaine hit the line at speed and made another 15 metres helped by an excellent handoff. London Irish killed the ball, and Medway kicked for the corner from the resultant penalty. Medway won the lineout through Captain Lola Erogbogbo at the front, and attacked through the centres, Medway drove to the line, and were awarded the scrum 5 metres out. The visitor’s secured the scrum, and as a bout of handbags broke out up front, the ball was spun wide, Kaine Dimech joined the line, and was rewarded to receive the scoring pass and go over wide on the left for a great try.
Medway’s tails were up, and at 12 – 8, they were back in the game…..London Irish, and their vocal supporters were rattled.
The next 10 minutes were ferocious, as the forward battle was contested fiercely…Medway’s scrum was excellent, with the front row of Harry Fields, Dylan Travel and Omar Woodrow-Thorne working brilliantly to hold their own ball, but also to win ball against the head on the Irish put-in. Tackling in the loose was very physical with Cian O’Hanlon, Josh Rann and Harry Stanford to the fore.
London Irish varied their attack with lengthy crosskicks but these were well covered by Medway with Rhys Townsend and Sean Marriott returning the ball with interest.
With 5 minutes of the half remaining, London Irish secured a scrum 5 metres out from Medway’s line, they broke off and drove for the posts but were repelled, however they recycled the ball and went in for a try wide on the right. This frustration was compounded minutes later following a break from the Irish No8, as he once again linked-up with speedy-Gonzales, who raced in at the same corner for the final play of the half.
Medway were 22 – 8 down at the break, and perhaps deserved more for all their sterling work….but the spirit was high. Alfie James stepped in at loose head for Harry Fields, Miles Huppatz came in on the flank for Kaine (who was sporting his usual dead-leg), Dominic Kempt came on at wing for Rhys Townsend, Will Munday moved onto the wing, as Medway’s fastest player scrum half Leo Watts moved to outside centre in place of the hard tackling Hadley O’Connor in an attempt to counteract their fast player. Sean Marriott stepped in at his familiar scrum half role.
The second half resumed, with no less physicality. London Irish, with their confidence back, started stronger, and the pattern for the second half played out. There would be 5 minutes of terrific rugby as both sides attacked and defended for all they were worth….before Irish would secure quick ruck ball midfield. They punched holes through the 10 / 12 channel using their outstanding backrow and a series of rehearsed offloads…Medway put the tackles in, but they would constantly find themselves short of numbers wide out, and as Irish recycled the ball they were able to bring their fast backs into play with space and superior numbers. This technique was executed on several occasions, and despite Medway hitting tackle after tackle, it yielded further tries for the home side.
Midway through the half, Medway attacked on the left, following an electric break from Alex Saddington…..as Irish infringed at the break down, Medway kicked the ball to within 5 metres of the Irish line. Medway secured the lineout and drove to within 2 metres…..hooker Dylan Travel broke off and drove for the corner, but he was well tackled into touch and the opportunity has passed.
The Medway team were outstanding, and fought hard throughout….this was typified with 5 minutes remaining. Medway attacked on the Irish 10 metre line through Lola and Cian, the ball was moved out to the backs where Harry Stanford and Dominic Kempt combined to move the ball forward in some pretty heavy traffic……as the Irish defensive line creaked, Lare Erogbogbo received a short pass, and broke two tackles, he turned on the gas and beat the cover defence for pace before diving majestically over for a try behind the posts, which Alex Saddington converted. This was the final score of the game, and spoke volumes about the heart and commitment shown by this team.
Medway were beaten but not disheartened….this had been a brave performance of courage, hard work and skill. The set-piece lineout was evenly contested, and the scrummaging superb. The tackle area and rucking was well-matched. The difference on the day, was the Irish ability to bring big ball carriers into the attack, and to keep the ball alive, this freed-up their pacy backs who did the rest (every Irish try was scored by a back.)
For the second week running, it was almost impossible to single out any individual player out….but for an outstanding display in the scrum, combined with his devastating work at the ruck and in loose play….the Man of the Match went to Omar Woodrow-Thorne. Well done lads, very proud.
Following 3 weeks of inactivity due to the snow and ice….the Medway lads travelled down to Ashford for their Emmo Cup match.
With a number of players still injured, and three others away on skiing trips, numbers were tight, but the lads put together a superb performance.
The coaches made a number of positional changes, and handed Lola Erogbogbo the Captain’s armband, in an attempt to inject greater control in defence and attack……and to allow certain players greater freedom to play their natural game.
The first few minutes were fairly tight, until Medway forced a penalty in Ashford’s 22, following a long clearance kick and some excellent pressure tackling…..up stepped Hadley O’Connor to slot the three points.
It was Ashford’s turn for the next ten minutes to put Medway under pressure, with some strong forward drives. Their outside centre made a clear break for the line at one stage, but was brilliantly chased down and tackled by flyhalf Alex Saddington. With the stiff breeze at their backs Medway were able to clear the danger on several occasions.
Medway started to gain the upper hand mid-way through the half, as their forwards showed more aggression in the defensive tackle area, where they were able to turn-over much Ashford ball….Dylan Travel, Alfie James, Lola and Miles Huppatz worked their socks off…..with Cian O’Hanlon, Ollie Brooks and Kaine Dimech tackling everything that moved.
From good field position on 15 minutes….Medway attacked right through Josh Rann, Lare Erogbogbo and Rhys Townsend…..Rhys was tackled just short of the line….and the ball was moved quickly back the other way to Omar Woodrow-Thorne….he bullocked his was forward in midfield, sucking in Ashford’s cover defence with his gravitational force, and Medway won the crucial ruck……this enabled scrumhalf Leo Watts to spin the ball wide left for winger Sean Marriott (not yet a pub landlord) to dive over spectacularly in the corner for a great team try.
The game became a forward battle for the remainder of the half, with Medway unable to stretch their 8 - 0 lead.
At half time, Harry (two-boots) Fields came on to replace the hard-working Alfie James at loose-head. The coaches offered little constructive comment to the lads, as they were playing well, and needed no further encouragement.
The second period resumed, and the pattern of play soon emerged….Medway continued to attack….Ashford would clear the ball miles downfield, only to have fullback Lare Erogbogbo run the ball straight back for the attacks to resume again.
On ten minutes, one such attack saw Medway drive to within 5 metres of Ashford’s line. The Medway pack showed great composure as first Harry Fields was repelled and then Cian O’Hanlon….importantly Medway retained possession of the ball phase after phase, until eventually open-side-flanker Kaine Dimech was able to drive through for the try. Medway 13 – 0 ahead.
Medway did not relax, and continued to drive into the wind, and tackle their opponents behind the gain-line. Medway’s backrow of Miles, Lola and Kaine made a total nuisance of themselves throughout, by continually smashing and turning over Ashford ball. Flyhalf Alex Saddington broke the home defence three times, only for the final pass or offload to go begging. Strong running and slick hands also nearly saw Rhys Townsend put away twice, but he was well tackled by Ashford’s fullback once, and on the other occasion the referee adjudged the final pass to be forward. Ashford counter-attacked after intercepting another Medway attack, but their speedy winger was brilliantly chased down by the enigmatic Mr. Watts.
Ashford never gave in, and with 5 minutes remaining, they gained a territorial foothold in Medway’s 22…..several powerful forward bursts were halted by Kaine and Cian (easier to write than to say) and the threat was thwarted.
The final whistle brought much elation for the lads, who had worked very hard for the victory on the day…..and throughout the season without getting much of the rub of the green.
Lola’s first match as Captain was exemplary…..with stand-out performances from Cian, Leo, Omar and Lare. The coaches unanimously agreed not to award a Man-of-the-match, as there has been 16 brilliant performances, as part of a great team victory.
With no man-of-the-match award, Omar may think that he has been excused for forgetting Hagrid the team mascot……but he knows the penalty for his crime, and we look forward to his nomination next week at London Irish.
Medway’s under 16s made the long trip to Horsham on Sunday, with a squad severely depleted by injuries. With two further players unable to make the trip, and further injuries to Omar Woodrow-Thorne and Josh Rann during the warm up, things were not stacking up for a good day out.
However, Horsham were understanding and gracious hosts, who agreed to a revised format of 20 minute training matches.
The first session, saw Horsham lend Medway three players. The Medway lads, ably assisted by their new recruits, played with a freedom and confidence which put smiles on the faces of their travelling supporters.
Medway edged the contact area, and moved the ball around at pace. This was complimented by strong running and massive tackling from No8 Kaine Dimech, and centres Lare Erogbogbo and Miles Huppatz.
Medway threatened the Horsham line on 3 or 4 occasions, but the home defence remained intact…..and Horsham were able to send the ball 50 metres downfield on each defensive turnover with the strong wind at their backs, to relieve the pressure.
The session ended all square…..with Medway in the ascendancy.
The second session was played as a straight shoot-out at 12-a-side. The set-piece was well contested, with Horsham edging the lineouts……and Medway, through Alfie James, Dylan Travel and the impressive Harry Fields edging the scrums.
Once again Medway played with real freshness, and moved the ball wide through scrum-half Sean Marriott and fly-half Owain Morton whenever the opportunity arose……from one such attack in Horsham’s half, Kaine Dimech found the gap wide on the right, and side-stepped the fullback to score out wide.
With flyhalf Owain Morton kicking well for territory, and second-rows Cian O’Hanlon and Ollie Brooks tidying up at the restarts….Medway’s decision-making was exemplary, which created numerous attacking chances. From an attack on halfway, …..the ball was cleverly held-up and recycled by Miles Huppatz after solid Horsham tackling, the ball was popped up to winger Rhys Townsend (sorry Will) who outpaced the cover, to register a great try out wide.
Horsham threatened late on, but a certain try was snuffed out by a great cover tackle from Lare.
The final session reverted back to 15-a-side, with Horsham once again providing the balance of numbers. Horsham used the wind effectively, and also kept the ball in hand at the right times to threaten out wide. They registered a good try through their winger, following a fast break down the right flank.
As Medway’s gallant 12 started to tire, Horsham scored again from a blind-side break from a scrum 10 metres out.
From the restart, Horsham spun the ball left….and for the first time, they were able to stretch Medway’s exhausted cover defence…..and go over for another score.
Medway were not to be denied, and with time ebbing away…..they secured the ball and drove at the Horsham defence……it was Kaine once again, who powered through several tackles before outstripping the home defence, to score the final try of the morning.
The Medway coaches were full of praise for their charges, who had overcome some unfortunate pre-match headaches…..and had gone about their task with flair and maturity.
Great performances throughout, were capped by tight-head Harry Fields, who was strong in the scrum, and powerful in the loose……but man-of-the-morning went to Lare Erogbogbo, who played his best rugby of the season, he carried strongly, defended with genuine determination, and put in countless hard tackles….earning him the much sought after prize of Hagrid’s keeper for one week.
Medway would particularly like to extend their thanks to Malcolm, Jeff and all the players and supporters at Horsham, who made for a truly entertaining morning enjoyed by all present.
Medway visited Aylesford on Sunday, in a tough Emmo Cup match. Aylesford had won their last 7 matches, but Medway had also secured some good recent results and hopes were high.
Once the frost had thawed out the game commenced, and immediately Aylesford caught the kick-off and ran the ball back 40 metres through Medway’s open defence. Medway then conceded 3 penalties in a row for offside infringements at the ruck, and found themselves pinned back on their line. Some sterling defensive work kept Aylesford out, but Medway struggled to gain any significant field position.
On 10 minutes, Aylesford attacked and put a speculative kick through, as winger Dominic Kempt dived to win the race to the touchdown, he was caught from behind and managed to smash his face into the only still frozen bit of the pitch. His reward was a broken nose, and Medway’s reward was to concede the first try. Conversion missed.
The remainder of the first half was a torrid affair, scattered with handling errors from both sides, and an enormous penalty count (which Medway won easily !)……although Medway started to get a foothold in the game at the breakdown.
Medway lost prop Alfie James to a recurring shoulder injury, and second-row Lola Erogbogbo to a thigh injury…….three replacements used after 30 minutes, indicated the level of physicality up front.
There was no further score in the 1st half……the interval saw scrumhalf Leo Watts make his long awaited return after a broken elbow in the autumn, and Will Munday stepping in for Hadley O’Connor on the wing.
Medway started strongly, and followed a revised game plan by spreading the ball wider earlier. Their reward was immediate, as flyhalf Owain Morton dummied his centres before releasing winger Jonny Amadi, who beat his opposite number and the cover defence to go over for the try behind the posts. Morton converted, and Medway were ahead.
Aylesford responded with real determination, lead by their impressive backrow. Their game plan of pinning Medway back with positional kicking from their flyhalf, proved very effective in the sticky conditions. Medway also entered a phase of the game where basic handling skills, and simple decision making deserted them………combined with the ever increasing penalty count, Medway were continually pinned back into defence.
With 10 minutes remaining, a further speculative kick to the corner, bounced infield invitingly for Aylesford’s winger to recover and dive over to put Aylesford back in front.
One final break from centre Lare Erogbogbo and Amadi was snuffed out……and Aylesford kicked the ball to touch from the final play (unsurprisingly from another penalty.)
Aylesford deserved their victory, as they competed strongly in the set-piece and the loose……and controlled the territorial game from No10.
Medway’s inconsistency continues to frustrate the coaches, as they failed to secure significant clean ball, and squandered the rest.
Dylan Travel and Ollie Brooks worked tirelessly throughout……but man of the match went to Cian O’Hanlon who worked hard in the forward battle, and put in some great first-up tackles.
Medway started 2012 with a tough away match at Folkestone. The home side are always very competitive, and matches are traditionally uncompromising affairs.
The opening exchanges were evenly contested, until on 10 minutes Lola Erogbogbo made a powerful break from a ruck in Medway’s half, as he was brought down, good work on the deck by Omar Woodrow-Thorne enabled the move to continue, good hands from Alex Saddington and Josh Rann, enabled centre Jonny Amadi to scorch in at the corner.
Folkestone responded by putting Medway under pressure in their 22, but great defence from the forwards held the home side out. Medway drove upfield, and after several phases, the ball was spun out through the hands, where Jonny once again turned on his dazzling pace to outflank the cover defence. Alex Saddington converted.
Once again Folkestone attacked, with a series of effective rucks and pick and drives……Medway absorbed the pressure, and as the ball was moved wide by Folkestone, inside centre Josh Rann intercepted the ball, and moved it wide through Dominic Kempt and Alex Saddington,….who gave a well-timed pass to No8 Kaine Dimech…..70metres later and Kaine sploshed down exhausted in the corner for the try.
Folkestone drove hard from the restart, and after securing good ball, they kicked ahead and scored a try in the right-hand corner. Deserved reward for their first half efforts.
Medway made a number of changes at the break, with Cain O’ Hanlon, Rhys Townsend and Owain Morton joining the fray in place of the impressive Harry Fields, Will Munday and Alex Saddington.
This half was a physical battle, as both sets of forwards competed aggressively up front….Folkestone’s tight driving game, ensured that Medway’s forwards were properly tested with their fringe defence.
On 10 minutes, Owain Morton delivered a perfect DSP, and centre Lare Erogbogbo broke the home side’s solid defence. The Folkestone fullback made the final tackle, but Medway retained possession and drove to within metres of the Folkestone line…….as the ball was recycled quickly left, Lare then executed the perfect two-on-one, to enable Jonny to walk in for his hatrick. Morton converted.
Once again, and much to their credit, Folkestone hit back in standard fashion, and pinned Medway back in their 22 for 10 minutes……their reward was a try following some powerful approach work.
The final phase of play, saw electric flanker Harry Stanford intercept Folkestone line-out ball, he went to within 15 metres of the line, before offloading to Omar and Cain…….the ball was spun wide right, where centre Josh Rann was kept out by some last-ditch tackling (should’ve passed Fizz)……again Medway won the ruck, and Sean Marriott spun the ball out for Owain to glide over to score a great try.
This wrapped-up the scoring, in what was a very good, well-fought game of rugby.
The Medway coaches were genuinely pleased with the forwards’ performance against a strong driving side, and they may have seen greater reward had the final pass out wide been given on several occasions.
There were strong individual performances from Omar, Lola, Harry and Dominic….but man of the match went to Miles Huppatz for a great display of tackling in the first half, and a demonstration of his unique brand of disruptive rugby in the second.
After some recent frustrating results, the Medway Under 16 lads put on a strong display to secure their place in the East Kent Cup Final.
The opening exchanges were keenly contested, before a powerful run from skipper for the day Kaine Dimech saw him go over on the right hand side.
Canterbury kept threatening with strong runs from their No8 and No12….but on 10 minutes Will Munday’s superb tackle saw the No12 spill the ball, quick hands saw Jonny Amadi show his electric pace, and round the last defenders to scorch in from depth.
From a similar passage of play, Miles Huppatz delivered his trademark one-handed, no-look, out-the-back-door pass, and released Amadi again, and he repeated the trick.
Canterbury responded, after turning the ball over in mid-field, their powerful No8 beat the cover tackles to go over in the corner for a converted try.
Medway struck back with the last score of the half, as good rucking up front, enabled slick hands between Josh Rann and Dimech, lead to an excellent wide pass setting winger Lare Erogbogbo away for a 50 metre sprint and a score beneath the sticks.
The second half saw skilful centre Hadley O’ Connor join the fray, as Medway played with more commitment up front, and more width in the backs.
Slick hands one way and then the other, opened up a huge gap which flyhalf Alex Saddington gleefully ran into….he offloaded to the tireless Kaine who dotted down beneath the sticks.
Canterbury responded with a converted try beneath the posts, following a penalty for a high-tackle.
The Medway pack with Harry Fields, Dylan Travel and Alfie James to the fore…..started to dominate, and from a 15 metre scrum, they provided the platform for Sean Marriott and Kaine to put Amadi away for his hatrick in the corner, through a training-ground move.
A penalty on the left was moved from Marriott to Dimech again, and as flyhalf Saddington hit the line, he was able to use his sprinter’s speed to outpace the cover defence, and glide through for a great score.
From the restart, Harry Fields caught the ball…..unique…..some quick interplay saw the ball put wide to Jonny who did the rest with a trademark blistering burst.
The Medway forwards, with Ollie Brooks and Lola Erogbogbo in the engine room then did something unusual…..they applied hours spent on the training field, and drove upfield with a series of perfect red balls….two drives by Dimech and Huppatz were repelled, before two more red-balls enabled flanker Cian O’Hanlon to dive over from close range for his debut try for the scarlet and golds.
One conversion by Saddington and 3 from Dimech completed the scoring.
This was a solid team performance from the lads, that saw glimpses of some of the ‘magic’ they are capable of.
Great performances from Alfie James and Harry Fields in the scrum, were complimented by good work from Marriott (100% pass success), Saddington, Dimech, Rann and Munday…..but Man of the match went to Dylan Travel, who tackled and rucked throughout, and showed leadership in the first half, when some of his colleagues had gone sleepy-bye-byes.
Well done lads…..great spirit.
Merry Xmas and Happy New Year, see you in 2012.
A frustrating day at the office for Medway’s under 16s, in their first ever match in the Emmo Cup, which is a cup based event where 8 Kent teams play each other resulting in an eventual winner.
The opening exchanges were very competitive and physical, with very little attacking space on offer.
Blackheath secured good field position following a Medway infringement, and from a lineout 5 metres out, executed a front peel move which saw them score an unconverted try in the corner.
Medway responded from the restart, and threatened to break through their opponents defence on a number of occasions, however Blackheath’s tackling was excellent, and any threats were denied.
After 25 minutes, Medway secured a scrum on halfway…….as the scrum began to wheel, Medway scrum half Sean Marriott passed out to blind side winger Lare Erogbogbo. He beat his opposite man, and stepped inside the fullback, to score under the posts, Owain Morton converted, and Medway had the lead at 7–5.
Both sides pressed for the remainder of the half, with the game effectively reaching a stalemate…..Blackheath were rewarded with a penalty 25 metres out right on half time, as Medway were penalised for hands in the ruck…..despite having two pots at goal ( missing the first, and having a second chance as Medway were adjudged to have moved) both kicks were missed, and Medway went in at the interval 2 points to the good.
The half time interval saw Harry Fields take over from Alfie James at loose head.
With the wind now at Medway’s backs, the home coaches cautioned their charges that the forward battle would become more intense…..this proved to be the case. Blackheath edged the contest throughout, as they rucked harder, and were quicker to get over the ball at the breakdown….this effectively deprived Medway of the fast ball they like to play with. Medway also lost centre Harry Stanford, who was replaced by Callum Daulby on the wing.
The pivotal moment of the game came midway through the half…..Medway secured a scrum 40 metres out, but as the ball was heeled back, it popped free from the backrow, Blackheath’s flanker was first to respond to the loose ball, as he gathered it up, and broke two soft tackles to go over under the posts for a converted try.
The forward battle continued, but from a series of penalties, Medway finally got some field position in Blackheath’s twenty-two. As Medway secured ball and drove for the line, Blackheath’s defence held strong and repelled any Medway drives….indeed Medway’s only reward as Blackheath cleared the ball was to lose their scrum half Sean Marriott to a yellow card, as the Blackheath player was adjudged to have been tripped whilst clearing the ball downfield.
The game then became a dog-fight up front, as Medway struggled to get possession, and Blackheath kept the ball tight in their pack to prevent this from happening. Frustrations boiled over with 5 minutes remaining as a bout of handbags saw Medway reduced to 13 players and Blackheath to 14, as those involved were given 10 minutes on the sideline to cool down.
As the game neared its conclusion Medway continued to push, but Blackheath’s defence was resolute, and Medway’s final pass was not secured on several occasions.
The final whistle saw Blackheath deserved winners, as Medway licked their wounds, and analysed how they could combat teams with strong dominating forwards who can slow down fast ball.
Training over the next couple of weeks will be interesting.
Man of the match for Medway went to No8 Kaine Dimech, who showed the passion and commitment that will be needed from all the squad in the matches ahead.
Medway’s Under 16s travelled to Brentwood on Sunday, to compete in the prestigious Golden Boot Festival.
Medway were without a number of their squad either through injury or on County duty……but were able to field a strong squad full of athleticism and determination.
The first group game saw Medway take on a very strong Diss side, with 9 county players amongst their ranks. Medway opened strongly, cleaning out strongly in the rucks, and threatening to breach the home defence out wide on a number of occasions. Diss defended strongly, and repelled Medway’s attacks. Medway also had to absorb a number of powerful breaks from Diss’ strong centres with Harry Stanford, Leo Watts and Josh Rann tackling ferociously. The game was a stalemate until the final minute, when Diss won a crucial scrum against the head on Medway’s 22…they attacked in the centres again, and despite some great tackles, they were able to offload 4 times to score a good try close in to secure the closest of wins.
Medway then faced local rivals Dartfordians in the next match…..Medway dominated the set piece, with Omar Woodrow-Thorne strong as a rock in the scrums, and Ollie Brooks cleaning up great ball in the lineout. In a scrappy encounter, Medway were always in control, with fly-half Owain Morton controlling proceedings, and gaining excellent field position with his accurate kicking. The break eventually came for Medway as the forwards cleaned out a ruck on Dart’s 10 metre line, fast hands gave centre Alex Saddington space, and he dodged three defenders at scorching speed to touch down under the sticks. Morton added the extras. The win was Medway’s.
The final group game was against a strong and abrasive Thurrock side. As Medway shook the lactic acid out of their legs…..Thurrock gained the advantage in the first half through a series of breaks through the backs……..Medway’s scramble defence was up to the task, and they were perhaps fortunate not to concede any points. The half time break enabled the coaches to inject some fire into their weary charges, and the second half was a different affair. Medway controlled the set piece, and won the contact area again and again. As Thurrock were repeatedly stretched, fast hands put No8 Kaine Dimech away from 50 metres…..he still hand to break 2 tackles and outpace Thurrock’s speedy winger, but he was up to the task as he crossed the whitewash for a superb score. This secured the victory, and saw Medway go through to the plate semi-final.
Next up was a strong side from Upminster. Medway started in imperious form, and threatened to break clear with great breaks from Alex Saddington and Alex Page….only great last ditch tackles held the Medway lads out. In a physical encounter Medway were awarded a number of penalties…..the one kickable chance slipped narrowly past. Medway also executed their turtle penalty move to perfection, and Pagey was unlucky not to score. Nil – nil at half time, and Medway came out fighting. They then played 7 minutes of the best rugby they have ever played, with forwards and backs combining in well practiced patterns, and Upminster struggling to hold on. Slick hands from Morton, nearly saw a try for Will Munday, and only a strong tackle on the try line held out Harry Stanford. Medway continued to press, and from a penalty the ball was carried 30 metres upfield through tight-head prop and skipper Omar Woodrow-Thorne……..the forwards won the ruck, and the backs attacked wide on the right……another fast clear out, saw the ball spun back the other way, and as Upminster ran out of defenders Kaine Dimech was on hand to crash over with 5 Medway players on his shoulder. Crucially the conversion was missed.
The short-duration of this type of match, always gives hope to any side, that the game is never out of reach……and sure enough, and very much against the run of play, Upminster spilled the ball forward in Medway’s half, the referee was unsighted and Upminster hacked through the loose ball, and won the touchdown with time running out. Their fly-half converted, and somehow Medway had lost.
There was a palpable disappointment amongst the lads afterwards, as they had played excellently all day, and yet come up short through one opportunist moment. The coaches shared the frustration, but were also very pleased with the team’s performance…..with all 17 lads playing brilliantly.
Outstanding performances on the day from Alex Saddington, Omar Woodrow-Thorne and Ollie Brooks were highlights…..but it was Medway’s backrow of Dimech, Page and Stanford who stood out.
Medway’s under 16s travelled down to Dover on Sunday, to contest the opening match in this season’s East Kent Cup.
They were up against a Dover side, who gave a good account of themselves at Priestfields in similar circumstances last season.
The kick-off saw three Medway players allow the ball to bounce no more than 5 yards away from them, and perhaps this signalled to the Medway coaches that the team were not fully focused on proceedings……this would prove to be the case throughout a first half riddled with bad decision making and poor handling.
Medway did open the scoring on 8 minutes, when they secured good scrum ball wide on the left. A slick midfield move enabled centre Lare Erogbogbo to go over for an unconverted try.
Medway then allowed Dover back into the game, as they failed to compete in committed fashion at the breakdowns……Dover secured good ball, and also turned-over ball they had no right to win. On a number of occasions they threatened Medway’s defensive line, and only strong tackling from Kaine Dimech and Leo Watts kept them out.
Medway tightened their defence, and threatened to break through on 4 or 5 occasions themselves…..however, poor pass execution, and dreadful alignment in the backs only served to butcher every chance. Credit should go to Dover who tackled excellently throughout, and snuffed out two late scoring chances for winger Podge Richardson.
Medway also lost popular second-row forward Phillip Coultrip after 30 minutes, with a recurrence of a frustrating shoulder injury, with Ollie Brooks stepping in from the subs bench.
The only other score of the half , was a penalty by Owain Morton, as Dover killed the ball in a ruck.
The half time interval, presented the Medway coaches with the opportunity to educate their team, as to the fundamental errors they were making. ( You must earn the right to throw the ball around, by securing it first.)
Alfie James replaced Harry Fields at loose-head, with Sean Marriott slotting in at No9 for Leo Watts…..Alex Saddington added some pace in the centres, with Lare moving out to the wing.
Medway looked more organised from the start, and rucked and supported more effectively. From a quick line-out on Dover’s 22, a lucky bounce saw the ball jump right up into the clutches of the on-rushing Lare, as he raced in under the posts for his second try. Morton converted.
Dover re-gathered their troops, and pushed Medway deep into their half for the next ten minutes, through some clever positional kicking, and some strong runs from their open-side flanker. Medway absorbed the pressure, and turned defence into attack, as No8 Kaine Dimech made a strong break 20 metres into Dover’s half, he offloaded to supporting centre Alex Saddington, who delivered a slick inside pass to Owain Morton who raced home from 20 metres. Morton converted his own try.
Dover continued to attack, and after some powerful drives, they were awarded a penalty in front of Medway’s posts……..they elected to put the ball through the hands, and were rewarded with a well-taken try in the left corner, which they converted.
Medway lost flanker Alex Page with a thumb injury, which saw Harry Stanford take over on the flank, and Leo Watts rejoin in the centres.
Medway then played some of their best rugby, ……firstly Lare and Lola combined to set up ball on the rightside of halfway…..the ball was moved quickly from Morton to Watts and to Saddington, before being offloaded to Harry Stanford who outpaced the cover defence to score.
Shortly afterwards, a good counter-attack from fullback Rhys Townsend, saw Medway secure good field position….the ball was moved from Morton to Watts before Lola hit the line at pace and offloaded to Stanford again, right place right time, to score his second. Morton converted to wrap up the scoring.
This was not Medway’s best performance, and Dover take great credit for making this so. There were many lessons for the Medway lads to dwell on… support, numbers in rucks, depth in attack and discipline.
Man of the match was Leo Watts……great passing in tricky conditions, combined with excellent defence……in addition his slick hands in the second period created the space for the best tries at the end.
On the hottest rugby-playing weekend in living memory, Medway's under 16 lads made the long trip to Richmond in London to take on Rosslyn Park in their annual fixture. Having won the fixture last year, Medway were keen for a repeat, but Rosslyn Park (on the back of putting nearly 40 points on Wasps the previous week) were in no mood to join Medway's party.
The home side started at a hundred miles an hour, smashing rucks, and stretching Medway’s defence to its limits. This first ten minute spell proved crucial to the result, as Rosslyn Park registered two converted tries through their dynamic backs, to put Medway in a tough position with an hour still to go.
Medway started to respond, getting a foothold in the game by upping their physicality in the tight. Omar Woodrow-Thorne, Kaine Dimech and Alex Page were everywhere during this period, and one huge tackle from Harry Stanford seemed to have a galvanising effect. Medway lost centre Josh Rann with a thigh injury, and some re-jigging saw Miles Huppatz take the field in true belligerent form. As Medway’s self-belief grew, they drove down field through Kaine Dimech and Dylan Travel. Rosslyn Park were caught offside in their 22, and Lola Erogbogbo took a quick tap penalty to drive in close to the home side’s line……..as Ollie Brooks, Alfie James and Omar cleared the ruck, Miles Huppatz was on hand to pick up and crash over for a Medway try. Somehow, on a windless day, the ball toppled off the kicking tee at the vital moment, and the conversion was missed.
The game ebbed and flowed for 20 minutes, as both teams, attacked and defended in equal measure……Medway started to get some scrum dominance, whilst Park’s forward giants secured excellent ball at the back of the lineout.
Next to score were Rosslyn Park, who opted to kick a penalty from 30 metres as Medway held on in the tackle.
Medway drove upfield from the restart, through Kaine, Pagey and Lola……and pinned the Rosslyn Park fullback onto his line from a kick through………in a rare lapse of concentration on the day, Medway allowed the fullback to counter-attack upto half way, before he linked with his powerful centre colleague who broke two tackles to score a converted try bang on half time.
This score was crucial on the stroke of half time, and Medway knew they would have an incredibly tough second half ahead of them, if they were to come back into the game.
With Harry Fields coming on for the exhausted Alfie James at loose-head, Leo Watts replaced scrumhalf Sean Marriott, Will Munday went to fullback for Rhys Townsend, and Dominic Kempt replaced the injured Callum Daulby on the wing.
Medway started the second period strongly, tackling ferociously, and spoiling Rosslyn Park’s handling game…..strong runs from Leo Watts, Harry Stanford and Kaine Dimech put the home side on the backfoot…..with flyhalf (and defensive brick wall) Owain Morton kicking wisely into space to push Rosslyn Park back into their half.
Medway’s pack secured set-piece ball on the right hand side 30 metres out……the fast ball enabled Morton to bring centre Lare Erogbogbo onto the ball at pace from a set move…..Lare breached the home defence and outpaced the fullback to score a superb try beneath the posts. Morton slotted the extras, as the ball stayed upright.
Medway were back in it, and had their best spell for the next 10 minutes, as they drove into the heart of Park’s 22…..through strong bursts from Omar, Harry, Milo, Dylan and Kaine……on several occasions they stretched the home side, but were guilty of losing control at crucial moments, as greater patience was called for when threatening the home team’s line.
A great burst through the centres from Lare and Harry Stanford, saw speedy winger Alex Saddington take an inside line, and head across field on a great run…..he dodged three attempted tackles and looked to have got clear, only for Park’s strong centre to drag him down in a last-ditch tackle.
The last ten minutes were all about defence, as Rosslyn Park attacked repeatedly, Medway held their line and refused to yield…..with Miles Huppatz, Callum Daulby and Ollie Brooks working their socks off.
The final whistle signalled a hard-earned victory for the home team, but Medway should be very proud about the way they competed throughout, and the way that they came back into a game which could easily have escaped them.
In the final analysis, Rosslyn Park took their chances, whereas Medway let some of theirs slip. Rosslyn Park were the best team on the day, were worthy winners and gracious hosts. We’ll have ‘em next time when they come to Priestfields.
Medway’s man of the match was Harry Stanford, who tackled brilliantly all day, and never stopped running in the baking hot sun………but all the lads played superbly, well done.
Medway opened up their season last week, with a home fixture against Chelmsford. The sun was shining, the crowd was massive, and the lads were on the show pitch.
The home team opened strongly, and following some excellent positional kicking from Owain Morton at flyhalf, they were able to exert pressure on Chelmsford’s defence. A wayward clearance kick was tidied-up by Alex Saddington, before a set move in the backs saw centre Lare Erogbogbo break the gain line. The attack was stopped 10 metres out, but was carried on through tight driving close in, lead by Omar Woodrow-Thorne et al…..this gave sufficient impetus for No 8 Kaine Dimech to spot space on the blind side and dive in at the corner. Morton converted from the touchline.
Five minutes later, and after absorbing some strong midfield thrusts by Chelmsford, …Medway were awarded a penalty in front after the visitors were caught offside…..Morton wisely slotted the 3 points to give Medway a 10 nil lead.
Chelmsford competed well at the breakdown, and took clean ball at No 4 in the line…..but Medway’s defence held strong, and solid rucking started to yield quality ball to attack with. Shortly after, Morton called the rewind, and put flanker Harry Stanford through a narrow gap in the centres, enabling him to race the final 30 metres to score under the sticks. Morton slotted the extras. Medway continued to press and were unlucky not to extend their lead, as Omar popped up in the backs, and charged 40 metres, before being stopped 5 metres short, and the chance went begging. The home team stuck to their game plan, and created more space as Lare again breached the visitor’s line….this time Morton was able to show silky skills as the creator glided over himself for a rare try, which he converted.
The final play of the half saw Medway’s best score….a set-piece move by the forwards off the line out, saw fast ball delivered to the backs….fullback Rhys Townsend hit the line at pace and made the break, he then popped a simple pass to Lare in support, who did the rest from 30 metres. Morton converted to put Medway in a strong position at the interval.
Medway were able to make a number of changes at the interval. With the exhausted Alfie James coming off for a rest after his first game of rugby for 18 months after sustaining a double-compound fracture whilst skate-boarding….great to see you back mate. Leo Watts also replaced Sean Marriott at scrum-half to make his Medway debut.
Chelmsford continued to fight throughout the match…..and would surely have given Medway a tougher challenge, had their numbers not been depleted through injury and unavailability.
Medway opened the second period in similar fashion, with Ollie Brooks and Miles Huppatz linking up to put Kaine through a gap for his second score, as he outpaced the defence from 30 metres, rounding the fullback in the process. Chelmsford’s hard work was rewarded soon after, as they pressured Medway into a handling error in the backs……as Medway failed to kill the loose ball …..their speedy centre hacked the loose ball through, and was adjudged by the referee to have won the race to the touchdown. Converted. Medway resumed where they had left off, and pushed deep into Chelmsford’s territory. A clearance kick was gathered on the wing by Podge Richardson, the superb Alex Page secured the ball in the tackle and fed the ball wide…..quick hands by Morton on the wide outside, put opposite winger Callum Daulby in at the corner for a great counter-attacking score.
Daulby combined well with Ollie Brooks and Dimech shortly afterwards, to put Harry Stanford clear again for his second score. Medway lost Harry Fields shortly afterwards, as the tight-head subbed himself for a piss-break!
Chelmsford attacked wide on the left through their excellent winger, but a great cover tackle by Pagey and Podge denied Chelmsford…..the ball was turned-over superbly by hooker Dylan Travel, which enabled second-row Lola Erogbogbo to break at speed up the blind side….he drew the last defender and put Kaine away for his hatrick from 50 metres. Chelmsford were not to be denied…..from within their own half, their excellent fly half executed a great wide move, which put the left winger in space….still with much to do, he showed great pace to race in from 50 metres for an excellent converted try.
It was Medway who had the final say, as Lare showed the defence a clean pair of heels to race in from the halfway line, following more excellent turnover ball from the pack.
This was a very pleasing first match of the season, with the whole squad playing to the game plan, and getting the rewards for their tireless efforts. Many strong performances included; Josh Rann, Sean Marriott, Omar Woodrow-Thorne, Lola Erogbogbo and Owain Morton to name but a few…..man of the match on the day was unanimously voted as Alex Page for a typically virtuoso performance in attack and defence. The only downside was Richard Harris breaking his foot in an innocuous tackle (although he did play on for 5 minutes)…..we all wish him a speedy recovery.
C’mon Medway !