Another week without head coach Mark Roughsedge present as he was away on England Wheelchair 4 nations duty, coupled with the fact that the Dragons had at least half a dozen regular players missing, meant that the 17 players who travelled to Woking College to take on the Giants would have to step up and battle hard. And thats exactly what they did.
On an overgrown pitch Medway received the kick off and for the first 10 minutes there was not much to shout about from either team as they exchanged sets. A huge shot from Chris John
was the only eventful happening until Callum Bowie
spotted a hole in the defence on the 5th tackle which allowed returning skipper Carl Zacharow to run through and offload to Bowie who drew the last man to send centre Jamie Sanger
over for his second try of the season. A successful conversion and the visitors were ahead 6-0.
5 minutes later Medway were in again. Again on the 5th tackle the Giants defence were expecting a kick, but Zacharow had other ideas and stepped around 3 men to score. Hewes again added the extras and a 12-0 lead was on the board. A raillied Guildford then came at the Dragons hard. a couple of half breaks gave them field position and at one point they thought they had crossed only for Veteran Fijian Lee Laquretabua to hold the ball up over the line in a fantastic defensive solo effort. Mistakes and penalties meant that Medway were pinned in their own 20 for 3 back to back sets and the pressure eventually told when Guildford crossed following a chip over the Medway line. 6-12.
From the kick off the Guildford full back spilled the spiralling ball and from the scrum the home side were penalised for offside. Chris John
took the first hit in and no-one fancied stopping him from 5 metres out and he bulldozed his way over the whitewash. Conversion was missed but the visitors were back to 2 scores in front. Again Guildford came back at the Dragons and were able to score following a cross-field kick which the Giants winger caught ahead of Sam Best, helped by the fact the Guildford man had about a foot height advantage. The conversion was added and the referee blew for half time with Medway leading 12-16.
The Dragons remembered the last time that these 2 teams met the scores were similar at half time only for Medway not to perform in the second half and were given a hiding. Not this time though...
Again the half began with an exchange of sets and again it was Medway who drew first blood.a sweeping move wide saw Joe Cooke
fed and was able to step his way over 5 metres in from the right touchline. Richard Hewes
missed another conversion so the score was now 12-20. Guildford then rallied again and crossed twice in the space of 8 minutes. Both conversions were missed and the scores were now level at 20-20.
Medway then stepped up a gear and dominated the game for the next 10 minutes. Fijians Jone Laquretabua and Poli Matata
stood out in attack, carting the ball forward countless yards, combined with excellent work from dummy half from Kishan Muthu
on his return from an 8 week injury lay off meant the Dragons were rarely in their own half and both Zacharow and Cooke managed to cross for their second try each. This time Hewes converted both tries and the lead was restored with the scoreboard reading 20-32.
Knowing they had a 2 score lead to defend, Medway knew if the defended well the victory was theirs. However, a knock on from the kick off gave Guildford an attacking position and despite their best efforts the referee judged the ball to have hit the withewash for a try to Guildford, much to the protests of the Medway defenders. The Guildford kicker slotted the conversion and kept the Giants in the Game at 26-32. Again the giants came back at Medway with 5 minutes left, but lost the ball in the tackle 20 metres out. All medway had to do was keep the ball and complete the set and they knew the final whistle wasn't too far off. Medway were in fact able to get within 10 metres of the Guildford line when the frustration of the home side boiled over into a few handbags being thrown around. The penalty went to Medway and the sensible option of 2 points was taken. Hewes kicked the goal, the referee blew the final whistle and Medway Dragons moved of the bottom of the table, following Sussex Merlins narrow 10-8 loss at Southampton.
The Dragons are on the road again next week against Sussex in a repeat of the cup tie earlier in the season which Medway won. If they are again victorious, then no matter what the result in the Guildford Vs Greenwich Game, then Medway would be into a play-off spot with just 2 games remaining.