01:00PM, Monday 18 October 2021
Head coach David Mobbs-Smith will review the video of Saturday's 48-29 defeat to Hertford on Saturday to get a better idea as to why the side is currently being 'cut to ribbons' in open play by sides in the London & South East Premier Division.
Both he and director of rugby, Myke Parrott, freely admit the side is struggling to adjust to the open, expressive rugby of sides in the division, because right now they are being carved open far too easily.
Saturday's defeat to Hertford wasn't the one-sided affair the scoreline would suggest, but the visitors were able to run in eight tries to Maidenhead’s four, with full-back Charlie Parkhouse leading the way, giving players the slip as Hertford turned defence into attack in the blink of an eye, often from deep in their own half.
Maids played their part in game, scoring four well-worked tries of their own, but defensively, they never got to grips with Hertford who ran out comfortable winners in an entertaining yet extremely open game of rugby.
Mobbs-Smith knows he and his defensive coaches have work to do to address the issues they've encountered in most of their games this season, with the side having lost five of their opening six games. However, he was pleased with elements of Maids' attacking game and says it will be interesting to see if the wintry weather plays into their hands over the coming months.
“In attack that's the best we've played with the ball all season,” said Mobbs-Smith. “But what we're finding is that in broken play, the teams in this league are devastating and we're not able to deal with it.
“We're dominating territory and we're dominating the game, and we look great in attack at times, but then, from deep and in broken play, teams are cutting us to ribbons. #We’ve got to go and have a look at what’s missing in our defensive play.
“We have a defensive pattern to play against this type of stuff, but there's something missing, so I'm going to have to look at the videos and see what that is. They scored too many soft tries, without even killing themselves.
“That seems to be the DNA of this league. All the teams in this league seem to play very well in open field and play a lot quicker than what we've been used to in the South West league.
“We’re finding it hard to adjust to the pace of the game. It will be interesting to see what happens when the weather turns, and it’s maybe a bit wetter. Are we going to be more competitive? What will these teams do when it's harder to do what these teams are doing? Will they be able to play high risk rugby from deep in their own half? Will we be able to put a little more pressure on these teams that are attacking us from deep in their own half?
In terms of possession and territory, Maids dominated the first half at Braywick Park, but Hertford, and Parkhouse in particular, were clinical when they did get hold of the ball. Maids did their best to starve the visitors of possession, but they looked vulnerable whenever possession was overturned, and at times in the second half Hertford looked capable of scoring every time they entered the Maids 22. As Mobbs-Smith said afterwards, he's seen improvement in his side's offensive play, now he needs to see the same from the defence. Captain Ben Mitchell ran in two tries for the hosts while Ed Keohane and Christoph Bart also crossed the whitewash for Maids, however, every time they touched down, and wrestled back a little momentum, Hertford would break and re-establish their healthy points cushion within minutes.
“They totally believed in what they were doing,” Mobbs-Smith said of Hertford's attacking play. “They were able to afford to take risks because they had the scoreboard advantage.
“Every time they got close to the line they scored and that then gave them the confidence to try it again. If we'd have been able to keep the pressure on them, they wouldn't have been able to do that and they'd have had to be a little more cautious because they would know if they made a mistake we could get back into the game. We were never close enough on the scoreboard to put that pressure on them.
“They just picked us off in open play and we have to find a solution to that because all of the teams in this league have that capability.
“He (Parkhouse) was the guy doing the damage from deep. It was the same in the Dorking game, they had Cam Cowell, a sevens player, who did the same for them that game as well.
“We just don’t seem to be able to shut down these very expressive players that teams in this league have. But we're going to have to find a way to do it because you can’t keep the ball all the time and starve teams of possession. At times you have to give it up.”
I feel today is the best we've attacked and now we must see the best from our defence. There were some great tries from us today, and let's not forget we were up against a very experienced team who know how to win games in this league. They’re a top five side.
“We’re going to have to find a solution and we’re going to have to alter how we do things tactically, just because of the way some of these teams are attacking us.”
There will be displays at Windsor Racecourse and Legoland, local fireworks in Burnham and Twyford and smaller displays at schools in the Royal Borough.