04:01PM, Thursday 28 November 2019
Maidenhead 24, Bracknell 14
Having lost their three previous encounters with Bracknell RFC, David Mobbs-Smith was taking nothing for granted when the sides met at Braywick Park on Saturday.
Bracknell arrived for this derby clash sitting fourth from bottom of the South West Premier but, once again, they defied their lowly league status to give their hosts a real fright.
However, on this occasion it was Maids who emerged victorious, claiming a 24-14 win which lifts them back to within four points of leaders Barnstaple.
Afterwards Mobbs-Smith declared his side’s ambition to finish in the top two, but, he admitted that won’t be easy given the quality of opposition in the division.
There was nothing easy about Saturday’s bonus point win either. Maids dominated the first 40 minutes and touched down three times through Scott Prince (two) and Dave Cole, the pair continuing their own personal duel to score the most tries this season.
But, like an opportunist pick-pocket, Bracknell managed to stay on the coat-tails of Maids after scoring two tries from their infrequent forays into the host’s half. Buoyed by this they then came at Maids in the second half, forcing the home side to defend for long periods before eventually succumbing to a second try, late in the game, from Cole.
They might have looked nervy at times in the second period, but they got the job done and picked up a valuable bonus point to boot.
“League position is irrelevant with games like this,” said Mobbs-Smith. “The last three league games against them we’ve lost, so the target for us was just to win the game. The fact that we’ve played so well in the first half as well was fantastic.
“But we gave them two chances in the first half and they grabbed both of them, so it was game on with 40 minutes to play. Then the momentum swung their way for the first 20 minutes of the second half. I think we were just under pressure and they had the belief because they came out only three points down having been absolutely bossed in the first half.
“They thought that chances would come their way but we didn’t let them score. They had all that pressure, and an amazing catch and drive. They’re a good side, their set piece play is really good and, if you give them territory they’ll hurt you. That’s what our kicking game was all about to try and keep them deep in their own territory.”
A fine rolling maul turned the game back in Maidenhead’s favour, claims the head coach, while no one was going to stop Cole when he received the ball five yards from the line in the final minutes.
“That catch and drive was the turning point,” he said. “We went 15/20 metres inside our own half and we got territory back and we got the momentum back. Then we managed to keep them down their in their own half.
“He scores a lot of tries that boy (Cole). I think it’s something like 51 caps and 49 tries. The first tackler doesn’t really count in those situations.”
Maidenhead have a week’s break now before travelling to Brixham on Saturday week (December 7). Brixham drew 32-32 away at Launceston on Saturday and visit Exmouth this weekend. They currently sit 10th in the table.
“That’ll be another tough place to go,” he said. “It will be interesting to see how they get on before they play us.”
Top Ten Articles