London Cornish 22-27 Medway
London Cornish 22-27 Medway

Medway travelled to a wintery Roehampton on Saturday to take on a revitalised London Cornish side who have won 5 of their last 6 games.

With a number of players still on the injured list this was always going to be a difficult fixture. Cornish are a well organised side with some quality players.

Despite the wintery conditions the pitch was in excellent condition and a good crowd from both sides, with Cornishs past players swelling the ranks following their reunion lunch, were treated to an absorbing match.

The best of the early exchanges went to Medway when excellent play attacking the blindside saw a last ditch tackle on Tom Beaumont prevent the opening score. Cornish exited well and on 9 minutes attempted to catch and drive. This attempt was thwarted but their centres combined well to force their way over for the converted try.

On 13 minutes Medway won a penalty on the half way line through good work from Lewis Stimpson, Dan Huntley and Tom Beaumont. A excellent line kick from Dan Harvey put them into the corner and the line out was executed well for Bill Sandison to drive over to score at the first time of asking. The touchline conversion from Harvey was good and the sides were level.

A loose pass after 16 mins saw Medway recover the ball but were then penalised for holding on and the reliable boot of home Captain George Kimmins was on target to make the score 10-7 to Cornish.

On 20 mins Medway won a penalty at the breakdown. A good touch finder provided the platform for a lot of excellent phase play with Sam Garofalo keeping the tempo high and Jordon Stubbington, Dan Huntley and Amon Panikoula leading the ball carrying backed up by Tom Beaumont, Lewis Stimpson, Antony Clement and Alfie Orris.

From these phases the home side defence found itself stretched allowing Sam Sharpe the space to force his way over for the unconverted try on the back of accurate passing of Harvey and Clement. 10-12.

As the half progressed though Medway found themselves conceding some needless penalties resulting in a narrow miss at goal initially but eventually

Cornish took advantage with a try after some quality phase play of their own. The conversion was missed but they led 15-12.

Medways uncharacteristic poor discipline was their undoing again when on 34 minutes they transgressed and the resultant line out saw the home side force their way over for another try once again converted from the touchline by Kimmins. 22-12.

Medway did come close on the stroke of half time but solid defence from Cornish prevented Medway from scoring and the home side went into half time with a deserved 22-12 lead.

Medway needed to up their game and their accuracy in both attack and defence for the second half if they were to maintain their challenge for top honours in the league. This they did.

There was no scoring for the first 17 minutes of the half as Medway sought to dominate the home side and as they in turn were trying to build on their healthy lead.

A high tackle on the ever lively Zach Garratt was punished by Dan Harvey with another accurate kick to the corner. Medway attacked off the line out but initial solid defence was asked questions of with a series of phase plays. Eventually these phases narrowed the home defence to allow Harvey to put Sam Sharp in for his second try. Harvey kicked the conversion to cut the home sides lead to 22-19.

The Medway pack were now starting to get on top of the home side. Richard Petch, Bill Sandison and Alex OLeary were getting the better of their counterparts and only some excellent work by the home No 8 Dan Leo going backwards allowed the home side to retain possession at times.

Medway looked to keep the pressure on and Tom Whitnell, Bill Humphrey and the veteran Peter Walsh provided the fresh legs to maintain that impetus.

On 67 minutes young Zach Garratt fielded a box kick, he moved the ball on then great interplay between Ryan Redman and Sam Sharp saw Redman score Medways bonus point try. Although the conversion was missed Harvey added a further penalty when the Cornish front row were penalised for standing up under pressure from the Medway scrummaging power.

Medway led 27-22 and with only 6 minutes remaining maintained good field position and pressure to close out a fine win against a good London Cornish outfit.

Coach Taff Gwilliam side This was a tough game played in the right spirit. London Cornish are a re-vitalised side who have strengthened well and it showed. A couple of early injuries hampered their challenge but I am pleased with the way we reacted to a poor period in the first half. To come out and keep them scoreless in the second was an excellent turnaround. He added Cornish highlighted a coupe of areas we need to work on and improve. For their part they will, despite the disappointment of defeat, take a lot from this game.