05:52PM, Saturday 12 January 2019
Maidenhead RFC 40, Drybrook RFC 27
Maidenhead RFC picked up their second bonus point victory of the New Year with a controlled and at times exciting 40-27 win over Drybrook at Braywick Park.
In the first game since it was announced head coach Russell Bolton would be leaving the club in the summer because of his work commitments, Maids took control of the contest in the last few seconds of the first half and first 10 minutes of the second.
Leading 12-6, having withstood a period of intense Drybrook pressure – conceding just one penalty to Tim Stevenson – Maids broke thrillingly through their backline, spreading the ball wide for Dylan Baptista to sprint clear in the corner for a wonderful try to make the half-time score 19-6.
Earlier in the period Maids scored the game’s first try when Ryan Long touched down after receiving Dave Cole’s offload close to the line in the 12th minute. Stevenson had put Drybrook ahead, slotting a penalty from a central position after a Maids’ infringement.
Maids then got the home fans off their seats in the 18th minute when Andy Berry broke through a couple of challenges, grubber kicked the ball toward the tryline and dived to touch it down after a slip from the retreating defender. Will Runciman, who kicked brilliantly throughout, swept over his first conversion to make it 12-3.
Drybrook showed they wouldn’t accept defeat lying down, but their failure to score after a period of sustained pressure handed Maids the impetus to go on and secure victory. Stevenson’s penalty – after 10 minutes of possession and territory – was scant reward for their endeavour but the Maidenhead defence held firm in that match defining period, much to their credit.
The second half was only five minutes old when Maids scored the fourth of their tries and it was Will Macaulay who put in the hard yards, chipping the ball through and picking up to play in Olly Foxley for a score in the corner. Runciman squeezed his kick over via the left hand post make it 26-6.
The game had barely restarted and Maids were at it again, this time Berry picking up from the back of a scrum, handing off his man and diving over to make it 33-6 after Runciman’s conversion.
It wasn’t long before Maids had their sixth try, Foxley again the scorer, running straight and at pace to finish off a flowing backline move. Runciman slotted his fifth conversion to make it 40-6.
At that stage it seemed likely Maids would run up another big score, but Drybrook – to their credit – threw caution to the wind when they had little else to lose. Mitch Baldwin collected Ben Large’s floated pass to score in the corner, Stevenson slotting the extras, and Large was again involved as Kyle Frowen barged over from close range with five minutes left on the clock. Stevenson’s drop kick made it 40-20. There was still time for Elliot Beattie to score his side’s third and final try with the last move of the match. Stevenson converting to make the final score 40-27.
A good exhibition of free flowing rugby from both sides then, but Maids had this bonus point win wrapped up from about the 50th minute.
After the game Bolton – who is to take on a new role as Rugby Professional at Oxford’s Magdalen College School – said: “We always looked the more controlled team. The more able side. I think in the first half I don’t think we necessarily made our points tell but the try before half-time kills it off doesn’t it.
“It meant we went in a little bit more confident at half-time which is great. I think they (Drybrook) had a real purple patch in the last 15 minutes. They were going for that bonus point, but we always wanted to take the maximum five points today at home. For 70 minutes our defence was outstanding and was the platform for us to play so well. We were able to score off that platform knowing they weren’t going to be able to score that many tries. I’m very pleased with that today, a really good performance.”
Maidenhead RFC: 1, Parrott, 2 M Darlington, 3 A Darlington, 4 Churchyard, 5 Berry, 6 Long, 7 Macaulay, 8 Cole, 9 Morgan, 10 Runciman, 11 Baptista, 12 Broughton, 13 Crosley, 14 Roddick, 15 Foxley. Subs: Rawsthorne, Leonard, Jansen
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