Maidenhead fail to survive late onslaught in narrow defeat to Sidcup

Having repelled a sustained onslaught in the final minutes of Saturday’s home game with Sidcup, Maidenhead head coach David Mobbs-Smith must have thought his brave Maids’ side had done just enough to earn another precious victory.

However, as the clock ticked on to the 85th minute mark, Sidcup impressively recycled possession after every penalty, block, trip, and tackle and finally found a gap just big enough to squeeze through for a 24-20 win.

Any handling error or mistake would have handed Maids their victory but, instead, they snatched the points from them with the very last play of the game.

Maid’s ‘heroic’ defensive display must have softened the blow of defeat, but the head coach said the players felt pretty deflated in the changing room afterwards, having given so much to the game.

In another topsy-turvy London & South East Premier Division encounter, Maids held the lead on three occasions thanks to tries from Joe Brawn – his second in as many matches – Will Macaulay and captain Ben Mitchell, but they weren’t quite able to hold on for a third win of the season. It leaves them third from bottom ahead of their trip to 11th placed Brighton on Saturday, November 27.

“Yeah, the final minutes were an onslaught on our line,” said Mobbs-Smith. “They kept getting repeated penalties, scrums and they just continued to pick and go, pick and go.

“It was heroic how we held out, but eventually they got over and that was the final whistle.

“We were hanging on at the end. They just had one final attack which gave them the field position from which to launch a final attack. We just couldn’t get out of that area. We had a couple of chances, but we just couldn’t get out and they were able to score.

“Very well done to them. They had sustained pressure where they managed to keep the ball without making an error and that is impressive. They didn’t knock on, didn’t go off their feet and just gave themselves a chance to steal the result. They’ll be very happy with that.”

The Maids’ dressing room must have been a disconsolate place following such a tight, tense defeat, with the players processing the emotion of losing a game they could so easily have won. It was a similar story, but not quite so dramatic, in last week’s 26-12 defeat at Havant, however, Mobbs-Smith says the players should take heart from how they’re adapting to, and becoming more competitive in, such a high-quality league.

“I think the team in general was (deflated), as they’d put in such a good performance,” added Mobbs-Smith. “We had managed to get the lead back and had played well. We fought well and it was a good performance as a team, so it was a big blow for them to come off without the win after the effort they put in. You might feel you deserve something, but you don’t always get it. That’s sport.”

Sidcup have made a happy habit of stealing late victories recently. In their previous home game against Tring, they slotted a penalty with the last kick of the game to secure a 30-28 win.

“It’s funny, the tide is certainly going with them at the moment, but they deserve it,” he continued. “They play a really nice, attacking, style of rugby and are a good side to play against. We managed to score three tries, and our defence has improved in recent weeks. We were able to apply a bit more pressure on our opponents and managed to score a few tries. We’re well in the games now.”

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