Medway IV – 29
St Leonards CP – 19
Ports eased into 2020 with a friendly after a month away from the pitch.
The quickly arranged match saw a bare Ports squad of 15 travel to Rochester to face a sizeable Medway squad.
The Ports XV had an unfamiliar look to it. Debutant George Brooks made a start on the wing and veterans Paul Smart and Gavin Thomas also made rare starts.
Both sides started brightly, Ross Kearney and Murray Warman carried well, Will Steele also made breaks but Medway remained solid.
Medway also used some big runners to crash through.
Kearney made key tackles, Mike Hutchins and James Daniels also worked hard at the breakdown. But despite Ports best efforts Medway maintained possession and smashed over from a penalty.
Ports maintained possession better, Hutchins boot controlled territory after Medway were ill-disciplined at the breakdown. Thomas accurate line out throw found Smart in space, he worked the ball through hands before Kearney made yards and fixed his defender.
Robbie Fink received the pass, and strolled under the posts. Hutchins converted well.
Medway picked up the pace, an unfortunate spill allowed them through for a second and some lacklustre tackling allowed a third.
A fourth seemed inevitable but Thomas and Josh Storey held onto a ball in a maul to deny a try on the stroke of half-time.
The second half started with some Ports ill-discipline, despite strong work from Henry Hill and Hutchins in defence. Medway worked the ball well from a five metre scrum to score again in the corner.
Ports found new energy Steele made some try saving tackles before heavy carrying by Daniels and Mickey Scriven found them in dangerous territory. Smart was creative as always and Fink drove close before Rob Tritton crashed over for his first club try in ten years.
Kearney and Warman found gaps whilst Scriven and Daniels broke through defence. Kearney again shifted the ball and Fink ran the ball in from 40 metres. Hutchins again slotted the conversion.
Ports drove at the line, Storey carried well and was unlucky not to kick through to score. When Medway rallied Brooks and Kim Wan made key tackles. Hutchins again kicked sensibly and Smart was milimetres away from catching a line out ball to drive at the line with the win in Ports’ grasp.
Sadly from a tap penalty Medway added a fifth try to add a sheen to the score.
Ports’ head coach Smart captured the feeling post-match: “Five minutes to go and three points down we had a chance of winning. It was a great game evenly fought, we look forward to facing Medway again.”
A number of players stood out, Tritton was a rock in the pack, Warman was a dangerous runner throughout but E-Heat man of the match was Ross Kearney for a touch tackling performance with his deft hand creating two tries.
Ports squad: 15 Steele 14 Brooks 13 Kearney 12 Hutchins 11 Fink 10 Hill 9 Smart 1 Tritton 2 Behan 3 Wan 4 Thomas 5 Storey 6 Scriven 7 Warman 8 Daniels