06:26PM, Saturday 02 December 2017
Bracknell 25 (13), Maidenhead 28 (10)
A Mark Darlington try in the last play of the game earned Maidenhead a memorable victory over hosts Bracknell, a bonus point and a narrow, but crucial, first victory away on grass this season.
This tense all-Berkshire clash was won and lost by both teams four times in the final 10 minutes and was on a knife edge for all of the second half.
Bracknell, clearly highly motivated for this derby, belied their position in the South West Premier with a physically powerful performance.
At times their rushing defence was brutal.
The effort did take a lot out of them enabling Maids’ powerful forwards to dominate the final 20 minutes of the match, but the visitors were always a threat on the counter-attack,
The hosts led 13-10 at half-time despite going behind initially when Maids’ Perry Jansen scored a well-worked try converted by Ed Keohane.
Keohane, who was slightly below par with his place kicking, bagged a penalty midway through the half, but Bracknell had an interception try from Simon Bayliss, plus a conversion and two penalties from their excellent 17-year-old fly-half Vic Hardwicke to their names when the half-time whistle blew.
Maids slowly, sometimes ponderously, went through the gears in the second half, winning set pieces at will and putting Bracknell’s defence on the back foot.
However, yet another interception brought a try for Bracknell, this time from Ian Burch, which Hardwicke converted for 20-10.
From this point Maids worked their way into the match as their power and fitness told.
Keohane added a penalty and, on 70 minutes, impact sub Alex French bulldozed his way to the corner.
Five minutes later George Blewitt was set free on the other wing and he dived in at the corner to put Maids ahead 23-20.
Bracknell hit back and with two minutes remaining created an overlap which Burch utilised to put the hosts back in the lead 25-23.
However, with the final play, Maids picked and drove one last time, finally driving over the tryline with hooker Mark Darlington emerging with the ball and a huge grin on his big bearded face.
The subsequent missed conversion was the final act of a thoroughly enjoyable derby between two committed teams.
It was Maids who left Lily Hill Park with five points from a bonus-point victory, while the hosts were pointless, an inequitable division of points from the closest of matches.
The win maintains Maids’ fifth place in the table, although they have caught up some ground on second-placed Newton Abbott who lost to Newbury.
Maids host Weston-super-Mare next Saturday seeking a 28th consecutive home win in the league.
Maidenhead RFC: Jansen, Blewitt, Keohane, Angell, Prince, Runciman, Childerhouse; Parrott, Darlington M, Darlington A, Hallett, Churchyard, Cadden, Long, Cole. Subs: Hyland, Leonard, French.
Tries: Jansen, French, Blewitt, Darlington M.
Conversions: Keohane 2 (from 4)
Penalties: Keohane 1 (from 3).
Tries: Bayliss, Burch (2).
Conversions: Hardwicke 2 (from 3)
Penalties: Hardwicke 2 (from 2).
Comprehensive match report in Thursday’s Maidenhead Advertiser.
South West Premier results:
Bournemouth 57, Brixham 30
Bracknell 25, Maidenhead 28
Camborne 17, Ivybridge 28
Cleve 27, Lydney 20
Dings Crusaders 64, Exmouth 14
Newbury Blues 27, Newton Abbot 12
Weston-s-Mare 37, Hornets 18
Marlow 19, Oxford Harlequins 22
Another close game but another defeat for Marlow in South West 1 East.
Half of Marlow’s matches this season have been lost by seven points for fewer, but this will be of little consolation to them as they sit bottom of the table with 11 defeats and one draw from 12 matches.
Slough 40, Bletchley 12
Slough win Bucks Bowl final at Tamblyn Fields to maintain their impressive league and cup campaign.
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