Medway 3rd (Dev) XV vs Blackheath 3rd XV
4 December 2021
The Bandits ran out 7-34 winners on Saturday, against a Medway side sitting third in the table with three wins from their seven games so far. With so many games cancelled or rescheduled for the Club 3s, and points for other teams crying off not having been attributed, the Bandits sat second from bottom at the start of the day with only two games played, making a result all the more important.
A strong westerly wind blowing the length of the pitch had an understandable impact on the game; Medway won the toss and elected to give Blackheath the breeze in the first half, and duly lived to regret it. The Club kicked off and were relentless in winning back possession and causing the home side to give away a series of penalties, all of which were kicked towards the corner, and points came in the first five minutes as the forwards turned the screw. Openside Namir Khalil powered over from close range to open the scoring, with stalwart scrum-half Nik Dinning booting the ball vaguely in the direction of the posts, but not quite powerfully or accurately enough to add the conversion.
Further pressure minutes later caused a hint of an opening for fullback Dylan Barnes to kick through, chase and dive on to as it crossed the tryline, for the first of his tries in what was a stellar performance. Although there was still no joy from the kicking tee, the Club pack’s performance was dominant enough for further chances to come, and Dinning DID get on the scoresheet with a sharp snipe from the base of a ruck a couple of yards out. As the first half wore on, Medway saw more of the ball and some Blackheath indiscipline gave the home side some good field position and put the Bandits on the defensive. The rear-guard action was successful, and the ball turned over with time for the first half seemingly expired, but Dinning misunderstood the referee and dropped the ball, thinking that would end the half; sadly (or hilariously, depending on perspectives) he had in fact given the home side a scrum on the Club 5m line. The pack got the team out of trouble again and won a penalty; keen to profit from the tailwind and add a score before the break, the Club kicked long but missed touch and seemed to have given Medway a final chance to counterattack. However, the impressive debutant fly-half Olly Chatterton intercepted a pass and coasted home to score the club’s fourth try.
The second half against the wind was always going to be more challenging, although a 24-point cushion was a handy thing to take in to it. This lead was extended before long, with the effervescent Barnes shrugging off a high tackle to break the Medway line again. The home side did get on the scoreboard halfway through the second half after a string of offside penalties against the Club, and replacement second row Matt Jones was the fall guy as the referee’s patience ran out. Within seconds of coming on to the pitch, he was shown the yellow card, but it was all a little late for Medway, especially as Blackheath gained better control in the last quarter of an hour. Five minutes before the end, the Club pack forced another penalty despite being a man down, and Barnes tapped and broke away with support from Sean Collett who held the defence and got the ball away to winger Johnny Moore to get Blackheath’s sixth try, and round off a very solid win against some tough and spirited opposition.