04:05PM, Monday 01 November 2021
Maidenhead RFC managed to shut down CS Stags' more influential players and executed their defensive game plan to the letter in Saturday's 54-12 victory over the bottom club.
Maids have endured a difficult and disappointing start to the campaign - losing six of their seven matches coming into Saturday's clash.
But they ran riot from the first whistle on Saturday, playing with an energy and intensity that's been missing from most of their matches this season. They may have been playing the league's bottom side, but the manner of the victory was encouraging and indicates they may be starting to get to grips with the style of play in the London & South East Premier Division.
Too often this season they've been caught out by teams’ swift, counter-attacking rugby, but on Saturday there was cover when tackles were missed, and the Stags spent most of the match penned inside their own half.
Reflecting on the victory, and what it could mean for Maids' season, head coach David Mobbs-Smith said: “Those defensive things we spoke about, we've worked on them in training.
“They've (CS Stags) got a really good kick return. When you kick the ball to them, they're usually very effective, but we managed to shut down their 15 and 14, who are their most dangerous players. They didn't have the same influence on the game.
“The try they scored right at the end was very nice and shows how dangerous they can be if you let them play. Every side in this division can play great rugby and they showed that at the end with their danger man gliding through to score. But apart from that, and one break early in the first half, the rest of the time we forced him to kick.”
If Maids defence was on point, it was their attacking play that really caught the eye as they ran in eight tries. Ed Keohane, Christoph Bart and Ben Mitchell did much of the damage, but everyone in black and magenta was looking to get in on the act, with Elio Mandozzi, Teo Gaster and Jacob Kingscott, on his debut, running in rare tries as the hosts overwhelmed their visitors in the second period.
“I felt our attacking shapes had been ok, we had been getting some success with them. but the problem is we've been getting hurt by other teams attacking us and getting a score lead,” added Mobbs-Smith. “This time we managed to get a score lead and we were able to build on that.
“We worked hard on maintaining possession when we get into the attack zone and not giving up the ball easily.
“In general, over the 80 minutes we made it hard for them to get out of their half. I think this win is going to be huge for us going forward.
“You know what it’s like in sports if you’re not getting the results. Maybe more so for the players rather than coaches, but they start putting pressure on themselves to win rather than focusing on their performance.
“Today we told them to worry about the performance and not the scorecard. If we can perform like that we’re going to be in the games.”
Mobbs-Smith will very much hope that's the case when the side visits seventh placed Havant on Saturday. Their two wins this season have come against the league's bottom two sides and now the pressure is on to produce a performance, and victory, against a better calibre of team.
He said: “The main thing for us is to build on this and we’ll worry about where we are at Christmas depending on how we go between now and then. Next week is against a team in mid-table away from home and the question is, how will we perform in that game?"