05:00PM, Thursday 07 April 2022
David Mobbs-Smith believes his side are playing with the confidence of a top four team as they prepare to round off an encouraging London & South East Premier Division campaign with tough tests against leaders Sevenoaks and North Walsham.
Having won their last three league games, and picked up a 36-14 away win at Sutton & Epsom on Saturday, Maids head into this Saturday's clash with the league's top side in fine form, however, Mobbs-Smith knows they'll find it hard to break down a team that's lost just three times all season.
He would dearly love to take Sevenoaks' scalp at Braywick Park, and hopes home advantage will count in their favour, however, Maids were beaten 43-0 when the sides last met in December and few sides have been able to lay a glove on the division's best side this season.
That said, Maidenhead are currently playing with the form of a top four side and the head coach is hopeful they can cause an upset if they get their performance just right.
Maids will then round off a campaign that has seen the team make vast improvements at North Walsham on Saturday, April 23. They narrowly lost a topsy-turvy game to Walsham on the opening day of the season back in early September, but most observers agreed it was a clash Maids really should have won.
“We’ve strengthened the squad over the season and a lot of the people aren’t the same players they were at the start,” said Mobbs-Smith.
“The younger players have grown hugely, the experience they’ve gained is immense, people like Phil Wells, Joe Keohane, Elio Mandozzi, Oli Garratty.
“They’ve all grown and are having a far bigger influence than they were in the early games.
“This side has top four capability now, but we play the best in the league this weekend and they'll be desperate to win because that will guarantee them promotion.
“We’ve picked up a few injuries so it will be tough for us, but it’ll be a real marker of where we are.
“They are a very good side and it's going to be a tough game, but sometimes styles can have an impact and we gave them a lot of problems last time, even if the scoreboard didn't show it.
“We just didn’t have the capability to score, and their defence was very strong. I would expect something very similar this time around so it might not be as easy for us to score tries.
“Hopefully that’s the case but we’re fully aware of how good they are and one of the best ways to beat teams like this is for them not to have the ball.”
He added: “It is always an advantage to play at home but funnily enough, this season we’ve been playing very well away from home. Our home form has been ok, but it’s been our away form that’s changed our position in the league. We've won our last three away games and that tells a story in itself.”
Maids are in a vastly different place to where they were when the campaign kicked off in September. Young players have grown in stature and maturity and are now giving confident assured displays that belie their tender years. Hard work has also taken place on the training ground to improve every aspect of their play, while new players have been recruited, adding much-needed strength and depth in a season that's been plagued by injury.
Despite this Sevenoaks head into Saturday's game as big favourites.
“They’ve lost three matches all season so that tells you where they are,” said Mobbs-Smith.
“Earlier in the season, when they were about fourth, I said that these guys would finish top and they're going to be the best side in the league.
“They’ve just got to win one of their last two and that's guaranteed.
“We have to play Sevenoaks and North Walsham, so we'll get a good measure of where we are.
“A good performance might give us the win and the performance will also tell us where we are against teams that put us under immense pressure.
“But, as you know, immense pressure has been our friend for most of the season.”
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