Medway Dragons 14’s got back into the London RL Junior League programme when they hosted Staines Titans at the Garrison for Round 5 of the 13 round competition. Reflective on the back of mixed performance versus Greenwich Admirals, the team could relax going into a game which was all about progress and improvement.
The Dragons started brightly and carried on playing the adventurous football which they have trademarked this year. Cameron Clarke
, having a first start at Loose Forward, took to the centre field role like a duck to water and was effective in attack and defence, aided by some solid work up the middle by props David Harris
and William Vodo
It came as something of a surprise to go behind when Staines broke from long distance and made big yards down the Dragon right edge defence to score.
, stepping in from wing to centre for the first time, was enjoying the earlier ball carrying opportunity and pulled one back for the Dragons with a fine individual try out on the left.
Spurred on, The Dragons proved industrious, Amrik Bains
was running the attacking plays well and was accurate in releasing the Dragons power runners. Edge defence was proving to be a problem and the Titans five consecutive tries, four before half time. This was not necessarily an accurate reflection of the match as the Dragons controlled play for sustained periods, but could not stop the big runners.
There were many bright spots and Joe Hawkridge
and Alfie Orris
stepped up in the halves and moved the play around well, improving the completion rate and creating a platform which the Dragons were to use very effectively after the break.
Ringing the changes and expecting an immediate improvement, the Dragons were stunned by another Staines try immediately after the re-start which was an instant challenge to the players resolve. They answered the question with a remarkable period of play, totally dominant , when they had complete control.
Steve Davolls introduced some fix into the middle of the park and Joe Coyd
used his distribution and offload skills to put the big-hitting Robert Butler
away for a good try.
Back on track, The Dragons upped the pressure and gained field position again in front of the posts. Davolls and Coyd linked up again to spread the play and push the ball wide to a lurking Mitchell Stone
who was unstoppable from 10 metres out.
The game was swinging but failure to respect possession and weakness on the edge cost a try against the run of play and leaving The Dragons down 32-12 on the scoreboard. The 13 players on the field responded well, learned the lesson and began to regain the control. Fine hands, this time working to the right put Edward Holland
away for a well taken try in the corner and the game was back on.
Within four minutes, David Harris
, back on for a second spell was causing his customary damage with his power runs and was rewarded with a try following bust after bust down the left. Matt Davolls goaled to bring the Dragons within 10 points at 22-32. Could it happen ?
believed so and followed a dart from the play the ball by George Moore
, who drew his man and put Bruin through the hole for a 50 meter solo try which Davolls goaled. Game on. Now within four points of the tiring Titans, The Dragons had the game within their grasp and had the momentum on their side.
Working up the middle and making good progress, the ball was lost and Staines pounced, quickly and decisively down the right flank again and pushed their lead back out to eight points. Back came The Dragons, fighting for every inch of the field and still believing that they could win, scoring twice was still a possibility for this team of ball players and runners.
It was not to be. Once again, the ball was lost and Staines made the Red & Gold pay with a try to push the score out to 28-40 and the game was gone.
Dragons Head Coach Martin Coyd
was in a positive mood after the game ‘I am pleased with parts of our performance today, despite the score line. Some lads had a challenge and a point to prove after not being selected for the Cup game last week and they did well. Despite leaking some tries on our edge defence, I saw players getting their body in front of some big runners and giving their best. I respect that type of courage’
‘We went through periods of total control when we respected possession, completed sets, built up pressure and dominated the field position. When we did that we scored and looked great. I am very aware that this is a learning process and players and the team have to improve, learn from mistakes and get better. We will also improve our kicking game, in open play, restarts and point scoriong opportunities. We remain on course’
'Remarkably, Staines are back next week for the 1st Round of the Challenge Cup and this will be a welcome and instant test of what we have learned. They played well today and took advantage of our mistakes. If we can cut them out, it should be a great game’