04:13PM, Monday 23 April 2018
Maidenhead RFC 37, Camborne RFC 25
Maidenhead completed their South West Premier campaign with a spirited, bonus-point victory over in-form Camborne at Braywick.
Maids came into the 1pm kick-off having lost six of their last seven matches and with the painful memory of defeat at home to Bracknell still gnawing at their insides.
Camborne, with seven consecutive victories, were virtually the form team of the division and still had a shot at leap-frogging Maids and finishing fourth.
However, Maids were the better team for most of the match, and were only on the back foot for a period in the middle of the first half and when down to 14 men in the final 15 minutes.
This was not a classic Maids victory – there was little of the swagger which head coach Russell Bolton had asked for in the build up to the match.
Yet, despite the performance being conservative, it was effective, clinical and and produced a morale-boosting climax to the season.
Maids led 20-8 at half-time, and they had threatened to run away with the match – as they had done so numerous times this season – by being 14-0 ahead after seven minutes.
Tries from winger George Blewitt, following a neat side step, and Sam Hallett, who drove over from close range, were followed up by conversions from Ed Keohane, who didn’t miss a place kick all game.
Yet Camborne counter-attacked well and, making the most of a number of missed tackles, swiftly replied with a try from scrum-half Taron Peacock.
Rhodri MacAtee missed the conversion, but he was soon on target with a penalty to leave the score 14-8.
With both No.8s – Maids’ Dave Cole and Camborne’s James Goldworthy – catching the eye in the first 40 minutes, the match was in the balance at this point as Maids lost their way.
However, after winger Alex French crossed the line, but was held up, Maids managed one more score ahead of the interval when Keohane slotted a penalty to make it 20-8.
Camborne reduced the deficit when MacAtee knocked over his second penalty to make it 20-11 early in the second period, but from that point Maids played effective possession rugby.
It wasn’t always pretty to watch, and three months it would have been unthinkable for Maids to do anything other than try to move the ball wide and run the opposition ragged.
But a lack of confidence plus a lack players of real pace like Tom Finnie, Jaryd Robinson and Perry Jansen meant the hosts took the conservative route.
But it worked. On 51 minutes, Cole came off the back of the scrum to barge his way over the line and Keohane converted off the upright for 27-11.
Maids were in the ascendancy but couldn’t quite kill-off the visitors, although Keohane maintained his kicking form with a drilled penalty form 40 yards to make the score 30-11.
Maids seemed destined to grind down Camborne further, but a yellow card for Andy Darlington upset the balance, and tries from Ashley Riches and Kieran Westlake, converted by MacAtee, left the score 30-25 with four tense minutes remaining.
Maids kept their heads, and control of the ball, and eventually a chip through from the excellent Max Roddick was scooped up and touched down in the corner by Blewitt to the relief of players and spectators alike.
Keohane maintained his immaculate kicking record with the conversion to ensure Maids won 37-25, and ended a long hot game – and an even longer, tougher campaign – with a much-coveted win.
Maidenhead RFC: Prince, Blewitt, Keohane, Ellis, Roddick, Lubbock, Childerhouse; Parrott, Barber, A Darlington, Hallett, Churchyard, Leonard, Macaulay, Cole. Subs: French, L Jones, Grimshaw.
Windsor RFC 64, Reading Abbey RFC 8
A thumping victory for Windsor over visitors Reading Abbey has secured a second place finish in Southern Counties North and a place in the play-off.
The hosts scored nine tries in all and dominated from the start – leading 10-3 after 15 minutes, grabbing their fourth try and bonus point in the first half and leading 50-3 at half-time.
Windsor’s tries came from Pat Birch (2), Jack Gaylor (2), Ben Grant-Adamson (2), Matt Balmer, James Cullen, Chris Emmett.
Gaylor added 19 points with the boot.
Windsor will face the team which finishes second in Southern Counties South in the play-off final next Saturday.
The winners will join Beaconsfield and Trowbridge in South West 1 East next season.
Windsor will entertain Marlborough in the Southern Counties League promotion play-off final at Home Park on Saturday.
The Wiltshire side secured second place in the South division with a 47-17 win away to Walcot.
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