01:30PM, Monday 06 September 2021
Dave Cole chose to praise the performance of North Walsham on Saturday, rather than forensically unpick his own side’s deficiencies after Maids succumbed to a 24-21 defeat in their first competitive match in almost 18 months.
Playing in a new league, the London & South East Premier Division, Maids were taking on a Walsham side who’d sat on a coach for the best part of four hours to make it to Braywick Park.
However, in the early stages particularly, they more than matched the home side’s energy and endeavour and were unfortunate to come off at half-time trailing after Cole himself had smashed his way over the whitewash late in the half.
Maids more than played their part in the fixture, and on another day may well have won comfortably, but having been under the cosh, Walsam were able to punish Maids’ sloppy mistakes.
“We’re devastated,” said Cole. “More so because of how well we played against Henley Hawks last week. We came into the game with some high energy and positivity. But to be fair to North Walsham, after a four-hour coach ride, they came here and matched our energy, if not surpassed it.
“I thought they played really well at times and the opportunities that we had; we didn’t seize.
“When you spend 10/15 minutes in the opponent’s half and don’t capitalise on it, you can’t win a game like that.”
Maids stepped up their game after the interval and were by far the better side for a 10/15-minute period, dominating possession and territory. Cole must have thought he’d scored a second try when he again made a characteristic burst for the line, but the ball was dropped, or knocked from his hands and the opportunity was lost.
“There were a few mistakes and a few injuries,” added Cole. “Will Macaulay, our number 8, had to go into the centre and things started to sway a little bit towards them.
“Somethings didn’t go our way, like a dropped ball over the line which is what I had. One, two, three too many things like that and the momentum started to go in their way.”
Leading 18-10, the home side then handed Walsham a lifeline when Dan Smith intercepted a loose pass to run the length of the field and score under the posts. It was a game changing moment which restored Walsham’s energy levels as Maidenhead ‘sank into a lull’.
“The number 8 added: Our heads dropped noticeably and when things like that happen you need to come back with higher energy and I don’t think we did that.
“We sank into a lull, and they upped their energy again, and they played really well.
“We’re in a new league, we don’t know what we’re going to come up against.
“South Devon was our home territory away from Braywick in the old league, so it’s going to be interesting. “There’s going to be a few Ding Dong matches like this and it’s going to be interesting.”
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