London Welsh suffered their third defeat of the season as Medway dominated the second half to take victory. Welsh gained a convincing bonus point win when Medway visited Old Deer Park but this could not be repeated on the road.
Medway kicked off the match and it was Welsh that found their feet first with an immediate attack by Rohan Pixley taking Welsh into the opposition half. Jag Mahal broke the defence and a pass to Matt Pollen put the centre through for an early try. Lloyd Davies’ conversion drifted wide in the blustery conditions.
A Medway penalty kick to corner gave the home team the chance to immediately counter but from the line out they knocked on and the chance ended. Welsh remained under pressure from the resulting scrum when the kick made little distance. Medway moved the ball out quickly to the wing for a try. Their fly half added the conversion to take lead. Medway soon increased that lead by a further three points from a long range penalty kick at goal, long range penalties were a constant threat in the Meway armoury which became a theme.
London Welsh restarted with a show of pace leading to an Andy Black attack through the middle. Passes to Matt Pollen and then James Smith left the scrum half just short for a debut try but Black was on hand to receive the ball again and make the final meters. Davies’ conversion put Welsh 12-10 ahead.
Welsh retained territory advantage for the next period of play, pressure forcing a knock on and scrum in the 22. A Medway penalty allowed them to clear to half way and a promising attacking move was brought to halt by a forward pass.
The physicality further increased as Medway ran successive moves at the Welsh defence eventually earning a penalty in front of posts and an easy three points.
The penalty count started to edge in Medway’s favour and they were unlucky when another kick at goal bounced off the cross bar and back into play. With no further scores the went into the half time break with Medway holding a 13-12 lead. Welsh may well look back at missed opportunities in the first 40, as they had the edge in the first half but failed to make the advantage count.
Three penalties early in the second half got Welsh position and they quickly took play down field for a 5 metre line out. The ball failed to go to hand allowing Medway to steal and give the Kent side some breathing space. The next Welsh attack couldn’t get any closer to the line and they remained a point behind. London Welsh made a change upfront bringing on Andy May for Jag Mahal with an attempt to solidify the lineout.
Medway’s second try came from another penalty. A kick to touch gave them a 5 metre line out, the short throw was gathered and quick ball across field for created the room for another try out on the wing to get over in the corner.
Errors each way handed possession back and forth between the teams but neither could capitalise on the opportunities. Medway then took control of territory and possession as ooked to close the game out going into the final quarter. Their work was rewarded with another accurate penalty kick at goal and a two score lead of 21-12. Welsh made their final changes bringing on Adan Cole and 1st XV debutant Elliott Quigley.
A last chance for Welsh saw Tom Hunt gather a kick and start a Welsh attack only for play to break down with the ball going forward in midfield. Welsh were then on back foot for the remainder of the game with the penalty count heavily in Medway’s favour. An interception gave Welsh a moment of respite but they were soon back towards their line as a result of further penalty kicks to touch. A scrum in front of the posts saw Medway drive over for their 3rd try and an assured victory. The conversion made the final score 28-12.
This was a disappointing game for Welsh and the dropping off following half time will give DoR Cai Griffiths plenty to consider. It is true that Welsh were depleted for this game, but not enough to curb the frustration of the second half performance.
The one silver lining from the day will be that Medway were contained to prevent a bonus point and leaving Welsh second now in the league with all to play for in the run in between Welsh, Medway and Camberley. In that top 3 Welsh have beaten and been beaten in marches with both sides – the bonus point position may provide crucial. Strap yourselves in for the next 5 games that will no doubt produce some drama.
Next week Welsh face another tough test with fourth placed Hammersmith & Fulham visiting ODP. Kick off will be at 3pm.