03:30PM, Sunday 11 March 2018
Maidenhead’s Mark Darlington in action against Newton Abbot.
Maidenhead RFC 46 (24), Newton Abbot RFC 36 (19)
Maidenhead scored seven tries in an always entertaining, often breathless match as they beat promotion rivals Newton Abbot to go second in the South West Premier table.
In a contest of 12 tries, which was played at pace for 80 minutes and showed impressive commitment from both sides, the result was in doubt until the 79th minute.
The All Whites broke with an overlap, but this was squandered, allowing Maids winger Max Roddick to scoop up the loose ball and run 75 metres down the left wing to seal another unforgettable victory at Braywick.
For once Maids began the game on the front foot and were 5-0 ahead after as many minutes when colt Ben Harris, making his 1st team home debut, scored with his initial touch, running around two static Abbot players to dot down.
In what was to be a feature of the match, Abbot countered despite spending long periods without the ball, Jarryd Harris scoring.
Maids had the measure of the visitors in the scrum while their pick-and-go routine, which utilised their big ball carriers, was causing Abbot issues.
Yet it was the visitors who scored next, again from a mazey counter-attack, finished by centre Kevin Dennis.
Rob Avery-Wright slotted the extras.
On the half-hour it was 12-12 when Maids flanker Will Macaulay darted in from close range as Maids pressed and Ed Keohane converted.
The next five minutes saw Maids at their best as Mark Darlington put them ahead when he bulldozed hs way over, and, shortly after, scrum-half Perry Jansen glided into the corner after Sam Hallett had intercepted and set him free.
Keohane was on target with the first conversion putting Maids 24-12 ahead and seemingly on the rampage.
However, Abbot showed their clinicalness from turnovers and errors, making the most of another bungled restart from the hosts for Dennis to touch down again.
The 24-19 half-time scoreline left both teams with plenty to be positive about.
The second half was more intense and frenetic than the first, as bodies and minds became tired.
Dave Cole put Maids in control again when, from an Abbot lineout stolen by Byron Richmond, Maids recylced to the big No.8 who was unstoppable from two metres out.
Keohane converted for 31-19.
Two minutes later Jake Monnington got on the end of a silky move to score Abbot’s fourth try which Avery-Wright converted for 31-19.
Lewis Jones then looked to have got himself on the scoresheet but lost the ball forward in going over the tryline, however it was not long before centre Keohane crashed over, after being popped the ball by the excellent Scott Prince, to make it 36-26.
Avery-Wright and Keohane then traded penalties to leave the score 39-29 before Abbot came right back into contention when flanker Onehunga Kaufusi dived over to score. Avery-Wright was on target with his conversion to make it 39-36 with a little over five minutes remaining.
Realistically either team could have snatched victory in the dying moments, but it was Maids, through Roddick, who scored last to ensure a massively satisfying and important win. Keohane’s conversion made the score 46-36.
That last try deprived Abbot of another bonus point, because they were not within seven points of Maids’ score at the final whistle, and capped a entertaining and hard won success for Maids over top-notch opponents.
Maids are away to Brixham on Saturday, for a rearranged match, and then head to third-placed Bournemouth the following week for a potential promotion decider.
Abbot also have to go to Bournemouth as the race for second place in the table becomes more intense.
Maidenhead RFC: Prince, Harris, Keohane, Hannigan, Roddick, Angell, Jansen; Parrott, M Darlington, Jones, Hallett, Churchyard, Leonard, Macaulay, Cole. Subs: Richmond, Cranton, French.
South West Premier results:
Hornets 36, Bournemouth 27
Brixham 19, Newbury Blues 12
Dings Crusaders 22, Cleve 18
Exmouth v Camborne – postponed
Ivybridge v Bracknell – postponed
Lydney 14, Weston-super-Mare 20
Maidenhead 46, Newton Abbot 36
South West Premier table (top five):
1, Dings Crusaders…….P21, 88pts
2, Maidenhead………….P21, 67pts
3, Newton Abbot………..P21, 66pts
4, Bournemouth………...P21, 65pts
5, Exmouth…………...….P20, 55pts
Marlow 33, Old Centralians 24
Marlow’s impressive form in 2018 continues, but they remain in the bottom three in South West 1 East after a win for Swindon.
Marlow trail both Swindon and Wimbourne by eight points but have a game in hand.
Thatcham 37, Windsor 39
Windsor narrowly edge past Thatcham by two points to keep them in third place in Southern Counties North.
Windsor are 14 points behind leaders Beaconsfield and eight behind second-placed Buckingham with five matches remaining.
Gosford All Blacks 55, Drifters 5
A first win of the campaign still eludes Drifters who are bottom of Southern Counties North.
Slough 63, Abingdon 15
Slough need one win from their final four matches to clinch the BBO Premier Division title following on from this comfortable victory at Upton Court Park.
Phoenix 21, Chipping Norton 12
In the BBO Championship, fifth-placed Phoenix bridged the gap between themselves and fourth-placed Chipping Norton after a solid home performance.
Harwell v Farnham Royal – home walkover
Farnham Royal were unable to field a team for their BBO Championship match away to Harwell.
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