Bonus point is scant consolation for Warlingham

First published in Sport by

Warlingham shipped more than 40 points for the second week running, but this was a much changed attitude that they took to Medway. 

Despite being three scores adrift early in the second half, they battled back to give their hosts a fright, and, but for a couple of unforced errors, could have nicked the result.

In the end, a 45-36 result keeps Warlingham stranded in the middle of London Division One South East.

Steven Murtagh, Jon Osborne, Alex Skinner and Brad Saffery chipped in with tries, while Mark Kozminski kicked 11 points and also grabbed a try.

Warlingham started brightly with prop Kieran Scutt driving forward and fly half Oli Doe, delicately chipped into space to put pressure on Medway. 

A penalty at the line-out gave centre Mark Kozminski a difficult second shot at goal, which he converted.

Medway swept back up field from the kick off and a huge pass to their left winger gave him room to accelerate.

However, Warlingham's Alex Skinner was equal to the task and brought him down five metres short of the try line, but some swift recycling gave the Medway centre acres of space in the midfield and a converted try resulted. 

Warlingham's captain Zac King led his troops from the front with aggressive run deep into the home side territory but, with insufficient support his drives were snuffed out.

Medway scored a second try from a deft inside pass which wrong-footed the Warlingham defence and the second conversion added to the misery. 

Lock Ollie Dodwell received the ball midfield and, uncharacteristically, booted the ball ahead for an inch-perfect line-out on the Medway five metre line. 

From the ensuing rucks scrum half Steven Murtagh burrowed through the bodies to cross the line out wide, and Kozminski was successful with the conversion. 

Medway's well-drilled backs looked ever dangerous and made ground until Dodwell targeted his man and stopped him dead with a perfectly executed enveloping tackle.

Prop Antony Abou-Zeid was harshly yellow-card for slowing the ball and Medway unleashed their deadly backs for a third converted try.

Warlingham were not to be out-done and when lock Luke Delderfield booted the ball into the Medway 22, the chase up was effective and quick ball to Kozminski gave him a gap to exploit - he converted his own try to bring the first half to a close with the game delicately poised.

The second half saw a revitalised Medway score two unanswered and converted tries and Warlingham looked to be done for. 

But they raised the intensity of their game and, when centre Brad Saffery gathered the ball in broken play he shouldered through the defence for Warlingham's third try.

When Medway boomed a huge kick to winger Jack Atkinson he turned on the gas and scythed through the Medway players, released the ball to Scutt and winger Jon Osborne got possession on the halfway line and outstripped his opposite number to score the fourth, bonus point try.

With just one score separating the sides the game became frenetic and Medway inched further ahead when their fly half split to uprights with a drop goal.

Then, when Warlingham dithered near their line Medway pounced and got their sixth try. 

Warlingham were to have the last score when King kicked ahead and a determined Alex Skinner chased up for the fifth Warlingham try, which Kozminski converted from the tramlines. 

Despite battling ferociously in the last few minutes, Warlingham were unable to gain a second bonus point for being within seven points of their victors but their performance was markedly improved and shows much promise for the rest of the season.

Next Saturday, Warlingham are at home to bottom-of-the-table Thanet Wanderers.

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