By Mike Attfield
U17NC Medway 29 - Hove 22
A very spirited performance by Hove who spent nearly an hour of the game with only 14 players. The effort by every player showed great team spirit and passion against a powerful Medway side.
For once Hove started strongly and from a quick ruck in Hove's 22 the Backs were released and slick handling allowed Piers to penetrate Medway's defence to score a try within 2 mins of KO which Steven converted. After that initial shock Medway started to get their act together and 10 mins later levelled the score at Medway 7 - Hove 7. Then Hove in quick succession lost Piers with a thigh injury and Liam with a back injury after a heavy double tackle. The game was held up for 15 mins whilst Liam's injury was assessed. He subsequently was taken to hospital in an ambulance to Medway A&E for checks on his back. It was good to hear that nothing was broken and he is now back at home. We wish Liam and Piers a speedy recovery.
The game convened on a new pitch with Hove down to 14 players. Steven was again at his mercurial best and scored another one of his weaving tries to put Hove 12-7 in the lead. One excellent driving maul from a line out in Medway's half gained us over 20 metres. However Medway came back to score a try which they converted to put them 14-12 in the lead. Another blistering break out by Ben Nash from a ruck sent the opposition scurrying back in defence. My only bit of advice to Ben is don't look initially for support as nobody including your own team know that you have gone. Just keep pounding your legs forward and hope that when you are stopped the rest of the pack have realised you are no longer with them and have caught up. Tyler with ball in hand continually got over the gain line and his endeavours were rewarded with a try with 2 mins left to half time. Hove finished the first half at 17-14 in the lead which was the reward for their great spirit, teamwork and determination to win.
The second half was much a reflection of the first half with both teams showing great determination to try to get over the gain line but which was prevented by some resolute defence. Shortly after the start Medway set up another attack and went over for a try which was converted and they moved into the lead at 21-17. However Hove continued to attack with some slick handling by the backs. Some very aggressive attacks , especially from Charlie and Harvey kept putting Medway on the back foot. An attack from Medway was stopped and the ball flew free for Steven to collect and his fleet of foot and speed got him over the try line to put Hove 22-21 in the lead. Hove's rucking and jackling continued to frustrate Medway however half way through the second half Medway were awarded a penalty. This was just outside their 22 which Medway converted to put them in the lead at 24-22. The game then got into a fire fight with both teams fighting hard to break the gain line. With two minutes left of play Hove failed to clear their line and Medway finally out flanked Hove's staunch defence to score a try and finish the game Medway 29 - Hove 22.
However the game should be considered a moral victory for Hove who played with 14 men for nearly 60 mins and were ahead on the try count by 4 tries to 3 until the last two minutes of the game. At the end Medway's coaches said it was a very close encounter and they were not sure of a win until the final minute.
You should all feel very proud of your performance. To play against a team that had beaten Rosslyn Park and nearly win with only 14 players for nearly 60 mins showed great endeavour. Your skill sets at times were of a high order. It bodes well for the rest of the season and the way ahead for Hove Colts next season. So extremely well done to all the Hove players that turned up, especially the 14 who finished the game in such high spirits with a strong will of wanting to win.