08:51PM, Saturday 30 October 2021
Maidenhead RFC 54, CS Stags RFC 12
Having taken some punishment from London & South East Premier Division teams this season, Maidenhead decided to dish out some of their own as CS Stags were hammered 54-12 in a one-sided clash at Braywick Park this afternoon.
Maids came into the game off the back of a disappointing 45-13 defeat at Westcombe Park, but supporters were buoyed by the news that there will be no relegation this season as another league restructure is in the offing.
What that means for Maidenhead remains to be seen, but there was plenty to be encouraged by in this display, even against the side that’s been propping up the rest of the teams for most of the campaign.
David Mobbs-Smith and his coaching team are also bringing through young talent from the colts and academy and, on this evidence, the future for the first team is very bright indeed.
The future for this season also looks a lot more promising after Maids ran in eight tries in their most accomplished display of the campaign, offensively – and crucially – defensively.
The side has been working hard to improve its defensive structure and shape in recent weeks, and CS Stags were hardly given a sniff of the Maids’ try line, their two scores coming in the final seconds of each half. That aside, they were steamrollered by a Maids side playing with the kind of energy and intensity that’s been missing from many of their performances.
From the off they were at their opponents, biting into tackles and throwing them off guard. CS Stags, like most teams in this division, attempted to throw the ball around in the early stages but Maids got to grips with them, and had players tracking back to cover when tackles were missed.
Only three minutes were on the clock when Maids grabbed the first of their tries, Christoph Bart bursting through the Stags line and setting up Ben Mitchell who fed the ball on for Niall Crossley to dive over. Ed Keohane slotted the extras to make it 7-0. The try settled the hosts, and they didn’t have to wait long for their second, this time Keohane side-stepping a tackle to run in under the posts. In Keohane, Bart and Mitchell Maids had the legs on the Stags’ backline and, but for a dropped catch and misplaced pass, would have scored again before Joe Brawn went over for Maids third try just before the break.
They were denied a first half shut out, however, when the Stags got the luck of the bounce with a kick that bounced into touch just by the hosts’ tryline. From it they scored from a rolling maul. Mitchell raced out to put off the kicker and he sliced the conversion attempt wide, and Maids went off with a 21-5 lead.
If Maids had impressed in the first half, they stepped their level up again after the interval. Captain Mitchell tapped a quick penalty and forced back a full defensive line to make it 26-5 with Keohane’s conversion.
Ten minutes later and Maids capitalised from another rolling maul, this time Dom Bart emerging from the pile to take the congratulations of his teammates.
The game was held up by a nasty looking knee injury for CS Stags’ try scorer, but when it resumed Maids were back on the front foot with Jacob Kingscott collecting a sharp pass from Keohane to bounce off a couple of tackles and score under the posts on his debut. Keohane’s conversion made it 40-5 in the 65th minute.
A few minutes later and Maids dominant maul created another opportunity for Teo Gaster took advantage to touch down a seventh try. By this stage, Maids play all over the park was really slick and Elio Mandozzi held onto a great slip pass from the instrumental Keohane to burst through and dive under the posts. The conversion made it 54-5, but, with seconds remaining CS Stags showed what they’re capable of as they spread the ball wide for their number 15 to crash over. He then dusted himself down to slot the conversion and make the final score 54-12.
Victory lifts Maids above Tunbridge Wells to 12th ahead of next weekend’s trip to Havant.