Following the excitement of the last home win against top of the table Westcombe Park, Cobham RFC came up short in a pulsating fixture against fourth placed Medway at Fairmile Lane (7 December). The score ebbed and flowed throughout the match, which neither side were able to dominate despite what looked to be meticulous preparation in the build-up. The final score was the first draw in 84 fixtures played to date in London 1 South.
The Medway pack created pressure and a Cobham infringement led to the first scoring opportunity for the visitors, but the penalty hit the post. Five minutes later and Medway were more successful as fly half Dan Harvey slotted the ball through the uprights (0-3).
Cobham didn’t have much possession during the first quarter but their back line was beginning to fire, with winger Dan Allchurch and centre Yanni Loizia both showing the opposition their heels, while Rodman and Fox, making his 50th appearance, were solid in defence. However, it was Jake McQuade, once again converting his energy into points, who put Cobham in front, as he picked up from a wheeling scrum to dive over for the opening try (5-3). That looked to be how the first half would finish but Medway secured another penalty that Harvey converted to give the visitors a single point advantage at the interval (5-6).
Medway started the second half with determination and created a try from a lineout in what looked to be a well worked and rehearsed play, with hooker Bill Sandison showing a lightness of foot to touch down. Harvey converted and the visitors had a two-score lead (5-13).
The next score was vital and individual plays kept Cobham in the match, with Tiernan White showing great agility preventing Medway securing a lineout five metres out and Sam Matcham with his driving runs down field. It was once again McQuade who was smothered and infringed that resulted in another penalty to Cobham, which substitute Luke Flower converted 8-13.
As the home side continued to exert pressure they gained a further penalty successfully converted by Flower to reduce the deficit to just two points (11-13). With the game in the balance, Cobham's lineout, which had been solid all afternoon, provided the launchpad for a backline move sweeping across the Medway defence. Captain Ryan Saunders executed one of his trademark feints to score under the posts for a try that Flower converted (18-13).
Medway have only lost twice this year (to Camberley and Havant) and began to show why, using the final ten minutes of the match to ensure Cobham defended their line. Medway did score in the corner giving Harvey a difficult angle for the conversion (18-18). However, it was the post that once again prevented the score and Cobham were able to play out the remaining few minutes for a share of the points. The team travel to Dartfordians next Saturday (14 December) looking to return to winning ways.
Director of Rugby, Steve Pope said: “A very frustrating day for everyone. The result may have been a draw, but it definitely feels like a loss sitting with boys in the changing room post match. We unfortunately gave the visitors too much respect and we were slow out of the blocks, playing the game at the pace and in the manner they wanted. It really took us most of the first half to get up to speed.”
“Medway have a simple game plan and really play very little football, but we are getting better at judging and managing the balance of our play. However, today we were not as clinical as we can and have been."
“We will take some positives from a solid hit out against a top five team, but we are better than the performance we delivered. We look forward to the opportunity taking on Medway later on in the season. We now turn our focus to two big games before the Christmas break. Finally, congratulations to Ollie Fox on making his 50th appearance today; he has been a great player for the club and I thought he had a great game.”
Cobham 1st XV Squad
1 Luke Bliss 2 Theo Buffini 3 Sam Matcham 4 Doug Rodman 5 Joe Goddard 6 Louis Porter 7 Olly Fox 8 Jake McQuade 9 Ryan Saunders (Capt.) 10 Jonny Holmes 11 Dan Allchurch 12 Yannis Loizias 13 James MacDonald 14 Tiernan White 15 Rory Penfold
16 Mario Zakakiotis 17 Max MacDonald 18 Luke Flower
Scorers: No 8 Jake McQuade - 1 Try No 9 Ryan Saunders - 1 Try No 18 Luke Flower - 1 Conversion | 2 Penalties
Man of the Match (Sponsored by George & Dragon, Thames Ditton): Yannis Loizias
Other Senior Result:
Cobham XV 36-10 Old Tiffians