Stirring 2nd half comeback not enough to overcome Medway
By John Vallely
Medway RFC 38-20 Westcombe Park RFC
On arrival at Priestfields, it was clear that the extremely windy conditions would be a big factor in the game. Medway are used to these conditions which gave them a definite advantage. Combe kicked off with the wind behind them and had Medway camped in their own 22 for extended periods. Although Combe had little of the ball, their offensive tackling prevented Medway from getting any real traction.
However, when the home side did manage to break out, thir backs looked very dangerous. The deadlock was finally broken when Combe conceded a penalty and Medway kicked to the halfway line. From the ensuing lineout the Medway no 8 broke through the Combe defence to score in the corner.
The game continued with Medway largely in possession but forced back into their own 22. From an attempted breakout Matt Harrison intercepted a sloppy pass and raced through to score between the posts and added the conversion to put Combe ahead 5-7. Soon after Combe increased their lead to 5-10 after Medway were penalised for a high tackle.
And so the earlier pattern of play continued with the home team pegged back by the visitors' offensive line. As the interval approached, Medway won a turn over and attacked down the right only for a Combe hand to deliberately knock on. A quick tap penalty and Medway were away to set up their pacy winger to beat the cover defence and score out wide.
Half time Medway 10-10 WPRFC
Despite being on the defensive for most of the half, Medway looked in control and clearly had a well rehearsed game plan for these conditions. They had also posed enough of a threat in their backs for the Combe faithful to fear the worst for the 2nd half.
And so it proved. Medway started the half with pace and intent, rattling in 3 tries all converted in almost as many minutes putting them in a seemingly unassailable lead at 31-10. The Combe scrum had been under pressure all afternoon and it was from a disrupted scrum that Medway worked a set move for the first of these tries.The second came from a poor restart and, from the ensuing scrum, Medway attacked out wide were stopped short of the line only for a supporting player to pick up the loose ball and dab down. Finally, the pick of the bunch came when the Medway full back picked up the ball in his own half, ran wide then cut back to score unopposed under the posts.
Many of the Combe support, fearing a rout, sloped off to the bar. However, whether Medway took the foot of the pedal or Combe refused to lie down (hopefully the latter), the game took a completely different course. Now Combe were on the offensive and, after a series of drives into the heart of Medway's defence, the visitors through Dave Pohlen were over the whitewash: 31-15. Combe's tails were now up and the body language was positive. There followed a long period of Combe dominance with a driving pack and the back row breaking the gain line time and again.
Eventually, Combe found space out wide and Ryan Fuller scored to make it 31-20 Combe continued to take the game to Medway but, at the death, conceded a penalty try at the hands of a dominant Medway scrum.
Final score Medway RFC 38-20 Westcombe Park RFC
Given the heroics of the whole team, particularly during the 2nd half, it is difficult to single or one player but it has to be said that Dave Pohlen had a magnificent game driving over the gain line time after time.
A rest week next week, then it's a home game against Camberley on March 23rd. it should be another cracker.
Match Report : Frank Meakin