After over three weeks since Cobham's last match, Tiernan White led the team out to mark his 50th cap for the first team. The fixture also saw Director of Rugby Steve Pope's make his home debut as a consequence of front row unavailability and injury. Cobham had lost the away fixture earlier in the season 45-14, but Medway were also missing key players so it was anticipated to be a hard fought fixture against the third placed league team.
Within the opening five minutes Cobham achieved the early breakthrough as centre Jonny Holmes took an excellent line to cut through the defence and provide his midfield partner James MacDonald with the width and space that enabled him to touch down, which Farrelly converted (7-0).
Medway came back strongly, testing the Cobham defence as they would all afternoon, and whilst Cobham had not had any game time over the previous three weeks it was evident that training had improved their defensive skills. Across the whole team, tackling looked to be at a higher level of intensity as it needed to be to withstand powerful running from John Sipawa, Lordi Wakua and Luke Burns in the Medway back line.
Having withstood the pressure, Captain Ryan Saunders was adjudged to have been held up over the Medway try line before the visitors drew level after stand off Dan Harvey broke the Cobham line to put Wakua over. Harvey added the extras to tie the score (7-7).
Cobham's back row of McQuade, Rodman and Fox played outstanding rugby all afternoon across the set pieces and in open play, with McQuade's pick-ups from the base of the scrum creating a constant danger. However, it was a combination of front row and the back line that combined to enable Cobham to retake the lead, with prop Luke Bliss feeding full back Rory Penfold who provided White with the ideal opportunity to celebrate his milestone, which Farrelly converted from the touch line (14-7).
Medway responded with a searing run from Burns but no breakthrough could be achieved. Pope came close to celebrating his debut but fell short of the line just before half-time. Whilst Cobham had edged the first half, they recognised that Medway would look to dominate the second forty minutes and they started strongly. Against the run of play, winger Gresham Lynn charged down a kick in the Medway 22, then collected the loose ball that gave Cobham the opening score of the second half, which Farrelly once again converted (21-7).
Medway responded almost immediately from the kick-off but a knock-on relived the pressure, but in their best period of play all afternoon centre Anthony Clement broke and put winger Sipowa into space. On this occasion, MacDonald saved what looked to be a certain try but during a further phase winger Sipowa could not be stopped and with Harvey converting, Medway were back to within a score (21-14).
Cobham knew the next score was crucial and following sustained pressure on the Medway line, flanker Olly Fox drove over for the bonus point try, which Farrelly converted (28-14). The lead was extended when McQuade created the space for MacDonald to score his second of the afternoon (33-14).
It looked to all intents and purposes that Cobham would maintain that healthy lead but credit to Medway who never gave up all and in the course of the final quarter ran in two excellent tries; the first set up by number 8 Lewis Stimpson to finally get centre Luke Burns over the line - Harvey converted (33-21) - before hooker Billy Sandison scored the visitors bonus point try that Harvey converted from the touchline to cut the deficit to just five points (33-28).
Pope utilised his substitutes and switched winger White to scrum half when Saunders was injured and Cobham not only survived Medway's final surge but put together several phases, which culminated in a Fox lineout take that enabled Rodman to cross. Farrelly converted once again to make the final score 40-28.
Cobham will have been delighted to have secured their second highest points tally of the season and give them confidence for the away fixture against Hammersmith & Fulham, who lost heavily away to Horsham (52-0).
Pope said: “Very pleased for the boys today; a tough week with availability and injuries so we were really up against it to field two sides for two strong Medway teams. Always a great contest against them and we wish them well on promotion but they would be a real lose to the fixture list. They’re a great club and it’s nice to see them do well.”
“As for us - a 50th cap for Mr White which was great for him; he’s been great again this season playing all across back line. The whole team did us proud today and I think we were on this occasion good value for the win. Well done to the 2nd XV too who stuck at it and gave a good account of themselves again against very strong opposition.”
“Special thanks to Andrew Murphy after this most difficult of weeks; to be available and be the rock that so much of our good rugby is built around up front each is really something. We are truly sorry for your loss thoughts are with you and family.”
Seniors and Backs Coach George Pickersgill added: "Medway are a notoriously tough side and have become a consistent focal point in the season following some of our past battles. Incredibly impressed with our defensive sets throughout the game that caused Medway to make errors, forming the foundations for the win."
"Combative performances from the likes of Doug Rodman and Jake McQuade provided a platform for the likes of the ever consistent Johnny Holmes and two try man James MacDonald to hammer the win home. The mood inside the dressing room was the best I’ve seen all season and shines promise on the last two games to come.
"A special mention to Tiernan White on his 50th. An incredibly talented player and well deserved plaudits for another great season. Now, where do we get the new prop to sign after such a debut...?"
Cobham 1st XV Squad: 1. Luke Bliss 2. Andrew Murphy 3. Steve Pope 4. Luke Westgarth-Taylor 5. Joe Goddard 6. Doug Rodman 7. Olly Fox 8. Jake McQuade 9. Ryan Saunders (Capt.) 10. Tom Farrelly 11. Tiernan White 12. Jonny Holmes 13. James MacDonald 14. Gresham Lynn 15. Rory Penfold Substitutes:- 16. Ryan Bushell 17. Ben Keast 18. Taylor Burnett
Tries: James MacDonald (2), Olly Fox, Tiernan White, Gresham Lynn, Doug Rodman Conversions: Farrelly (5)