Where they are appropriate to share!
Saturday 18th September:
1st XV – Surrey 2 – Home vs Met Police RFC
London Media 1st XV’s first league game of the season got off to an unusual start as we found ourselves out of the changing room and ready to warm up a full one hour before kick-off. Even veteran props Cheffy and Donald arrived in time for line-out practice. However, cracks soon started to appear; after paying a bit too much attention to hydration, Joe found himself being reprimanded by a horrified mother for exposing himself in public, while the rest of the team were introduced to an 18-year-old in school uniform, a.k.a. the referee. To top it all off, we had to raid our subs bench after losing two of our starting XV to a Friday-night-tennis-induced groin injury and a dodgy stomach respectively. Despite the bad omens we managed to assemble 15 players, bringing debutants Harry and Josh in to reinforce the backline and Nige/Jesus back into the forwards. We did, however, start with only two subs on the bench.
We began the game on the front foot, camping ourselves deep in the opponent’s 22 within the first few minutes. However, with only 3 minutes on the clock, we suffered a major blow as Cheffy emerged from a characteristic trundle with a bloodied head. Thankfully, Met Police’s physio was on hand to provide much-needed medical attention but the prognosis was not good – Cheffy was not to return to the field of play, doctor’s orders. Up stepped Donald to take on the mantle of an elder statesman.
With time back on, after forcing a few more penalties from Met Police, Max shipped the ball out wide on the right, where quick hands from Ben, Euan and Knighty put new winger Josh through in the corner for a well-deserved debut try. Ben calmly slotted home the conversion. 7-0 to Media.
Following our early try, Met Police began to grow into the game, putting us under sustained pressure in our half until they scored in the corner. Missing their conversion, Media retained a slight lead at 7-5.
We began to find our rhythm again, winning several penalties at the scrum as Donald made his presence known at loosehead. Momentum gathered in open play as Max combined well with Dan, who offloaded superbly out of the tackle to Ben, who passed out left for Josh Palmer to feed Euan, who weighted a superb pass about 2 metres in front of him for Cam to run onto at typically blistering pace and score. Met Police claimed a forward pass – no chance. The try stood and Ben stepped up again to convert. Media led 14-5 at half-time.
Despite leading the game, at the break it was clear that the bruising encounters with the Met Police pack were taking their toll. We used our final substitution but Fergus, Joe and Will H were forced to play on with injuries. We began the second half determined but wary of the immense physical challenge posed by our opponent.
In the second half we found ourselves at the mercy of the whistle-happy referee who penalised us repeatedly (and often inexplicably) at the lineout and on the floor. Met Police stopped competing at the breakdown and started feeding their hard-running second row and number 8 in the backline, who managed to break through our exhausted defence several times (though credit must be given to some heroic scramble defending from the team which prevented certain tries). Eventually the pressure from Met Police overwhelmed us and we conceded three tries in a row. Towards the end of the game we looked on the brink of making a comeback as the pack rumbled over the tryline for Knighty to touch down, only for the referee to rule we were held up. Despite bravely battling on for the final 10 minutes the game ended Met Police 24 – London Media 14.
Despite the defeat we could take pride from the performance and everyone put in a shift on the day. There was plenty of post-match analysis in the Latchmere afterwards but first and foremost it was great to see players from both teams drinking well into the night. Call me sentimental but there’s a brilliant team spirit developing at the club. Although frustrations did boil over at times during the match, I was on hand to offer some words of wisdom (‘why can’t we just all be friends?’). Martin Johnson eat your heart out.
Saturday 11th September:
Pre-season Round Robin @ Old Haileyburians RFC
Media ended the 2021 preseason with a supremely encouraging unbeaten day at a tournament hosted by Old Haileyburians RFC.
Joint first XV captain James Knight described the beginning of the tournament as “a classic London Media start”. Missed trains and bad traffic saw the full squad finally come together five minutes before the tournament was due to kick-off. After a quick warm-up and a few introductions between a newly put-together back line, Media were ready for the first match.
Match one: London Media 14 ― 0 Old Haileyburians 2nd
London Media shook off a slow start to run in two unanswered tries in their first match. The message before the game was to keep things tight in the forwards where there was a bit more experience. Perhaps the Media pack took this a little too much to heart and were guilty of over committing to the early breakdowns. In the end, it was strong running lines and quick hands from the backs which put flanker Fergus Smithers in for the first score of the day. The conversion was made by flyhalf Ben McCellan. Both sides were guilty of getting on the wrong side of the ref at the breakdown in the second half. A period of sustained pressure by the Media forwards set a good platform for another fine move by the backs finished by winger headbutt Dan and converted by Ben.
Match two: London Media 10 ― 0 Teddington RFC
London Media produced a superb defensive effort to see-off a strong Teddington side without conceding. Media’s second match came 30 minutes earlier than expected and against different opposition. Teddington, a Surrey 1 side who had just won their first game, were likely to provide a much sterner test. Perhaps it was this reputation which led Media to opt for three points with their first penalty in the opposition half. This was not a popular decision with everyone attending but Ben slotted an excellent kick from distance. Some strong forward carries and a string of excellent offloads put Mike Low into the corner. Ben was unerring from the tee once again.
The first half ended with some superb scramble defence in front of the Media try line, including an excellent last-ditch tap tackle (apologies, I didn’t see who made it!). The second half continued as the first half ended, with more excellent London Media defence. Attack after attack was repelled by strong tackling and excellent work at the breakdown, most notably by debutant Wes at centre. The resilient defence eventually got to Teddington who began to get on the wrong side of the ref in their frustration. Media saw out the win in a performance that every player could be proud of.
Match three: London Media 5 ― 5 Old Wellingtonians
Neither side could find a winning score in a hectic end to the final match. Buoyed by an excellent win in the previous game, Media were guilty of taking one too many risks in their own 22 and Old Wellingtonians were able to score the first and only points conceded by Media on the day. The next few minutes were disrupted by a series of injuries for Old Wellingtonians who were forced to borrow from other teams. In the second half, a strike move off a Media set piece was well finished by Mike for his second try of the day. Unfortunately, Ben’s perfect kicking day came to an end and there were two minutes left for either side to find a winner. Neither team was willing to settle for a draw and the contest went well into dead time. The match ended with a Media attack running out of room and going into touch.
Player of the tournament: Lewis Pearson. Lewis won a close vote with Ben and Wes. Lewis’ stand-out moments included a huge hand-off on an over eager fullback chasing his own kick, some excellent turnovers and coming out on top in an enormous 50-50 over a bouncing ball.
Dick of the day: Ben McCellan. Ben was possibly a victim of his own success from the tee earlier in the day. To be fair, he did miss the easiest kick at the key moment. Could more votes have been cast for the captain who went for three points in a 20-minute friendly?
Saturday 4th September:
London Media 65 – 5 Economicals
Structure. Effort. Statements. These were the pre-match demands of London Media’s newly appointed captain, James Knight, and he will undoubtedly be pleased by his side’s response on a grey afternoon at Fortress Battersea. It was a confident performance filled with attacking flair and unerring composure.
In the opening minutes, the contest appeared to be finely poised. Media received and went through a few unfruitful phases and Economicals replied in kind. The first score of the game came from what would prove to be a hugely effective outlet all day. Dan Scheidegger, making his media debut, crashed over from a designed play and touched down under the posts to make the extras a formality. 7-0 Media.
By the first stages of the second quarter, a firm degree of control had been established. It was the centres again who provided the breakthroughs. Cam, another debutant, helped himself to a brace of tries before the interval. The first, a break off the back of some excellent link play with his fellow backs. The second, a scything run through a set Economicals’ defensive line after the pack had provided a generous platform from a scrum on the opposing 22. Not long after the first restart, Media found themselves camped in enemy territory once more. Accuracy at the line out from the forwards, however, went without reward, as the referee signalled that the ball was held up following a rumbling maul collapsing over the line. From the resulting scrum, Dan conjured a piece of near-balletic precision to score, pirouetting over the try-line whilst juggling the ball after a pass had gone just behind him. Media now led 26-0.
A shot across the bows soon echoed, however. Some slack defending upfront and in midfield allowed the Economicals’ 13 to crash over. Media could point to the half-dozen or so changes that had been made a few minutes prior as reason for this lapse in defensive solidity, yet they will no doubt look back on this with rueful disdain. Was this to be the start of a storied comeback for the Economicals?
Not a chance. At this point the game moved into what shall be dubbed the devastation phase. Meat pies rained down from the rugby heavens, now with the outside backs getting in on the action. Jack Carlton bagged a couple of tries at each end, further burgeoning his reputation as a lethal finisher. Cam, Fred, Fergus and Rory added to the scoreline as well, the latter of which also contributed a brilliant end-to-end run, skinning a fair few hapless Economicals’ defenders.
As the game drew to a close and play grew increasingly 7s-like, Knighty implored the team to regain their structure and see out the match in the right way. Perhaps most encouragingly of all, on what was a wonderful day for the Battersea outfit, they granted him this request, finishing the game with poise and authority. An old adage in rugby goes: “Forwards win the game; the backs decide by how much.” However, it would take a particularly churlish onlooker to deny that this was a day won by numbers 10, 12 and 13. Let’s hope this is the start of another memorable season. Up the Media!
- Will Hannam – Excellent carrying and defended the channels manfully.
- Giles Harker – A huge shift at front row and gave great ball at the line out all day.
- Will Hughes – Superb as usual. Was Economicals’ best forward when he magnanimously agreed to play for the opposition in the final quarter.
- Oli Pepperell – Splendid offload play throughout the game. Made the hard metres look fairly simple.
- Bill Barker – Brought steel and structure to the packs collective effort. Worked tirelessly throughout.
- Fergus Smithers – The freshest face in the pack and a fine game was rewarded with a try (I think?) in the second half.
- James Knight (c) – Demonstrated the leadership skills that his new post
- Josh Palmer – A performance which revealed an interesting option at the base of the scrum. Utilised his pace and passing to link the pack with the backs.
- Max Goreham – Mouthy and reliable: first-rate 9-play.
- Conor Colclough – Faultless distribution which time and time again exposed the opposition’ defence. Utilised his most dangerous weapons (the centres) to devastating effect.
- Ben McClellan – A decent day at the kicking tee.
- Dan Scheidegger – A barnstorming performance with the ball in hand and from the boot. Produced some brilliant moments of skill.
- Cameron Mackenzie-Lawrie – Helped himself to a handful of tries whilst making a mockery of the opposition’s attempts to defend him. An outstanding debut.
- Euan Coull – Produced a few excellent line-breaks and some brilliant support lines too.
- Fred Roberts – Handled the opposition’s attempts to kick with ease and looked assured when asked to step in at 10 towards the end of the game.
- Corbin Parsons – Strong carries throughout the game and a gentlemanly kick to touch in the final play.
- Smithy – Contributed to fine structural play from the pack at the end of the game and had a few nice inside offloads.
- Adam Lees – Great carrying and a threat at the line out.
- Dan Fitz – Another great debut. Put in some crunching challenges and looked assured as part of the forward unit.
- Rory Northam – Scored a fine try and had one memorable mazy end-to-end run.
- George – Grew in confidence as the game progressed. Began to find his teammates with greater regularity.
- Joe Ference – Stepped in seamlessly to contribute from the back row. An assertive debut.
- Charles Aitken – A nice cameo at the end. Helped defend a dangerous situation.
- Jack Carlton – Capped off some nice back plays with clinical finishes.