Dartfordonians 15-35 Medway
Dartfordonians 15-35 Medway

Medway’s first away game of the season saw them travel to old rivals Dartfordians.

Games between the two sides have always been hard fought affairs and this match was no different. Fresh from their opening day victory at Tottonians Dartfordians would be a tough nut to crack.

In breezy conditions with the wind blowing down the slope Medway kicked off and immediately the home side were penalised for offside when the kick was not fielded correctly. Harvey made no mistake and with just a minute on the clock Medway were in front 0-3.

Medway were again on the front foot from the re-start. The ball was re-cycled well from phase play for Harvey to feed Orris. He beat several defenders to score a great individual effort out wide. The conversion was missed but Medway led 0-8 after just 3 minutes.

On 10 minutes Medway win excellent line out ball and Captain Mike Gardener breaks the first line of the home defence. Panikoula creates quick ball for Dance and Harvey to link and feed Ryan Redman. His pace takes him clear as he outstrips the cover defence to score another unconverted try and give Medway their dream start. 0-13.

Dartfordians were shocked but they are a proud and well coached team who do not throw the towel in. They upped their game and following good scrummage work were on the front foot. On 21 minutes Medway were forced to concede a line out close to their line and the home side drove over to score an unconverted try and narrow the gap to 5-13.

Dartfordians had upped their game but it was Medway who scored next when the home side were caught offside at the ruck.  Harvey was on target and Medway put the lead out to 5-16.

On 32 minutes Medway again won good ball from the set piece and attacked the home side. They defended for several phases but eventually the space was created for Conor Chalmers to race away out wide and score a great team try. Harvey converted and Medway now led 5-23.

This young Dartfordians team are resilient. Medway made a couple of back to back errors and the home side capitalised. They pressed Medway’s line time and again. They won penalties and looked to catch and drive but these were thwarted.

The home side then went to the pick and drive and eventually on the stroke of half time the visitors were penalised for the killing the ball in front of their own posts. To make matters worse Panikoula was sent to the sin bin for 10 minutes. The home side kicked the penalty and the half time score was 8-23.

Medway started the second half playing up the slope into the wind and down to 14 men. Despite this they controlled the ball well retaining possession and denying the home side the opportunity to take advantage of the extra man. In fact it was Medway who should have scored when a handling error cost the them a try with the line at their mercy.

Medway then had another great opportunity to score but some good last ditch defence from the home side prevented Orris from getting his 2nd try of the match.

On 53 minutes with Medway restored to their full complement it was the home side who lost a man to the sin bin after repeated breakdown offences. Medway had chances to score initially but poor decision making failed to put the game beyond the home sides reach.

Dartfordians cleared their lines and were battling to get back into the game when a speculative kick from their fly half was charged down and Charlie Wardzynski gathered the ball and raced away unopposed to score out wide. Ryan Redman kicked the conversion from the touch line and Medway were looking dominant at 8-30.

On the hour mark the home side won great field position and showed their character when they deservedly scored from short range. The try was converted and the lead cut to 15 points with still 20 minutes still to go.

Dartfordians were desperate to get back into the game and were attacking from deep. Eventually this undid them. On 66 minutes Harvey intercepted a loose pass and linked well with Antony Clement who set up Lewis Stimpson in possession. Stimpson brushed off several attempted tackles from the cover defence to score an uncovered try and put Medway safe at 15-35.

Medway introduced Billy Humphrey, Richard Petch and Zac Garratt. All made telling contributions with their fresh legs and Medway closed the game out.

Playing good controlled rugby into the wind and up the slope in the second half was the key to an excellent victory against a well organised determined young team who never gave up.

Medway coach Taff Gwilliam said “ Our opponents today are a well organised side who caused us a lot of problems. We are delighted to get the win but know we have a lot of things to work on and improve if we are to maintain this good start to the season” he added “…there are no easy games and we must work hard on the training ground if we are to be successful”.

Next week Medway host Chichester RFC at Priestfields kick off is at 3pm.