07:00PM, Friday 08 October 2021
Head coach David Mobbs-Smith felt Maids did a lot of good things in difficult conditions as they ran out 16-10 winners over Tunbridge Wells on Saturday.
In awful conditions Maids tried their best to play open, expansive rugby, but in the end, they had to go back to basics, and it was a simple pick up and drive from a couple of yards out which led to Mark Darlington scoring the home side's only try.
It was a big moment in the game. Maids had been the dominant side throughout but were trailing 10-6 on the scoreboard as the clock ticked toward the hour mark, however, when they needed to, they did the simple things right, building the phases and recycling the ball to enable Darlington to force his way over to make it 13-10, while Ed Keohane kept his composure in tricky kicking conditions to slot over three penalties and a conversion. Not a bad conversion rate given that one of his efforts was held up by the wind almost as if it bounced back off an invisible wall.
After the final whistle there was joy, and the players punched the air and hugged each other. But there was also a fair amount of relief, with the home side having had to repel attack after attack from Tunbridge in the closing minutes. The visitors, to give them due credit, never knew when they were beaten.
“The players will feel relieved,” Mobbs-Smith said afterwards.
“We had to dig deep to win, and it nearly slipped away at the end, but I think we can say that we were probably the more dominant side.
“The conditions were really poor but probably a six-point margin is about right. Everybody knows what they’re supposed to be doing, but executing those skills is difficult.
“Your skillset is put under pressure both by your opponents and the conditions.
“The error count wasn’t too high considering, and we did a lot of good things that kept us in the more dominant areas of the field.”
Both teams struggled to master the conditions, as well as their opponents in the first period, with Jack Hill dropping the ball as the try line beckoned. Tunbridge didn't see much of the ball in the Maids’ 22 but when they did get there they capitalised, Finlay White picking up from a clever kick over the top to touch down under the posts. However, had the weather been a little kinder – for both sides – Mobbs-Smith feels his side would have run out more comfortable winners.
“You feel so, right?” he said in response. “We just had to change tactically where we were attacking, and we had more success there. With our try, you’ve just got to hammer away and hope that you make it because there’s a risk that you’ll drop the ball if you go wide in these conditions.
“It was windy, wet, more like January, eh?
“They (Tunbridge) were absolute fighters, they never know when they're beaten, and they just kept coming back. Keeping them out was another story.
Next up for Maids is another home clash against Hertford on Saturday, October 16. Hertford began the season well but dropped to eighth following their 12-5 home defeat to Tring last weekend.
He added: “For team psyche that win is absolutely huge, we’re getting used to everything in the league, and we have a week respite now, two weeks to prepare for the next one,
“Back-to-back victories would be amazing. It’s against one of the top sides in the league (Hertford), but they’re coming here.”
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