Maidenhead manage to get 'monkey off their backs' with win over Tunbridge Wells

Maidenhead fought like dogs to get their first win of the season on Saturday and managed to get that monkey off their backs in the process. It wasn't a vintage performance by any stretch of the imagination, the awful conditions didn’t allow for that.

But the 16-10 victory over an equally committed and adventurous Tunbridge Wells side has at last given David Mobbs-Smith and his players a first win in the London & South East Premier Division, which, on the balance of play, they just about deserved.

As front-row forward Mark Darlington said afterwards, they simply wanted it that little bit more than the visitors.

It was his try midway through the second half which ultimately turned the tide in Maids' favour.

Trailing 10-6 at the interval, having spurned several opportunities to get over the whitewash, they finally put together a series of phases, edging closer and closer to the Tunbridge line before Darlington barged his way over from a couple of yards out.

Having thrown away leads against North Walsham and Tring, Maids weren't about to do the same against Tunbridge, and they grimly held on for victory, Ed Keohane slotting a penalty to edge them further ahead in the closing stages.

“Yeah, that's it, it's got that monkey off our backs,” said Darlington after the final whistle.

“It was massively important today, even in the weather, we were playing a better brand of rugby than we have done in the last few games.

“That's something we've been working hard on in training, but today it just came down to pure grit and who wanted it a bit more. It's good to see that dogfight in us, probably for the first time this season.”

Darlington admits there have been a few teething problems for Maids on their return to competitive rugby. They've added several new players in the past 18 months and are still working to improve their interplay and set-piece combinations. They're also still getting used to one another’s style of play.

“We've got some new combinations this season and I think that's been apparent,” he said.

“But our lineouts have improved from last week, when it was dry weather, and we'll continue to work at it.

“We still love to throw the ball around, even in this weather, and hopefully that carries on for the rest of the season.

“We talked at half-time about doing the simple things better and it made a big difference. It's a new league and we're out of our comfort zone, but we like the challenge and don't have a six-hour bus journey every week.

“The standard is a lot better. We’re playing a different calibre of player. No disrespect to the South West league teams who had big, bruising packs, it was a different type of rugby but this is a fresh new challenge.”

On his try, Maids' only one in the match, he added: “You’re not a front-rower if you don’t score from half a metre away, are you?”

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