Medway 29-0 Thurrock
Medway 29-0 Thurrock

After a three week break for the festive period, Medway returned to league action on Saturday with a home game against Essex side Thurrock.

When the two sides met back in September, Medway edged a closely fought game. Since then, Thurrock have languished at the wrong end of the table but have always remained competitive and hit top form just before Christmas scoring 78 points against Gravesend.

Medway won this return fixture more comfortably, but were made to work hard for victory and were very relieved when they scored their fourth, bonus point try in the very last play of the game. Medway had edged the first half leading by 10 – 0, but went on to dominate proceedings in the second half and only inaccuracy at key moments prevented them from scoring more points.

On a cold, gloomy, dank January afternoon and after such a long break, both teams made an error strewn start with neither side able to dominate. Medway played with the wind advantage and regularly used this to good effect to push Thurrock back up the field. After 11 minutes and some good approach play, the home team had the opportunity to take the lead with a penalty but the kick drifted wide of the posts. The score board remained blank for 25 minutes until Thurrock knocked on close to their line. From the resultant set of scrums, an excellent drive by the home pack allowed No. 8 Billy Humphrey to touch down for the opening try. Harvey kicked over the extras and 3 minutes later extended the lead with an easy penalty kick, 10 – 0 to Medway.

Thurrock enjoyed their best period of the game just before half time and only excellent defence kept them at bay.

Medway had long periods of territorial advantage in the second half as Thurrock struggled to win sufficient, quality possession to mount any meaningful attacks. Whilst Medway’s scrum was dominant, their line out coughed and spluttered all afternoon. On numerous occasions, good field position and potential scoring opportunities were squandered through inaccuracy at the line out or disrupted catch and drives. After 16 minutes, Medway did score a quality try when the forwards won a line out and drove deep into the Thurrock 22. The ball was released down the backs and full back Ben Dance’s quick hands created the overlap for Conor Chalmers to score in the left hand corner, 15 – 0.

Medway now had twenty minutes to score 2 more tries to gain the important bonus point. Although not playing at their best, they remained focussed and kept knocking on the door until the very end. As the pressure mounted, Thurrock had a prop sent to the sin bin for persistent team penalties. With 8 minutes to go Medway scored their third try from a good line out catch and drive with Tom Beaumont getting the touch down. Then in the very final play of the game, excellent hands from Sharpe, Chalmers and Ben Dance allowed the latter to touch down in the corner. Two excellent conversions from Harvey for the third and fourth tried completed the scoring.

Match sponsor Bullock Touring made the popular decision and presented the man of the match to Ras Debeer who carried tirelessly all afternoon. Michael Gardner and Tom Beaumont made many hard yards in the second half.

Coach Taff Gwilliam was understandably relieved to get this potentially difficult fixture out of the way and move on to another tough game away at Sevenoaks next week, 13th January, kick off 1400.