01:12PM, Monday 21 October 2019
Maidenhead RFC 27, Newbury Blues RFC 24
Prop forward Elio Mandozzi grabbed Maidenhead RFC's winning try in the final seconds as they once again came from behind to secure victory on Saturday.
Maids weren't at their fluent best against Newbury Blues, in fact they looked 'lethargic and disjointed' according to former Advertiser sports editor Graeme Copas.
But they somehow summoned up the spirit to battle back in the closing 20 minutes to pinch victory from under the Blues' noses.
The home side looked off the pace for much of the second period, and were lucky to be only trailing 24-17 heading into the final 15 minutes, but a penalty kick from Ed Keohane and Mandozzi's last gasp try saw them scrape a win which will have perplexed their visitors - who were arguably the better side for much of the game.
It was Maids' second victory on the spin after their thrilling 43-42 win at Launceston two weekends ago.
It leaves David Mobbs-Smith's side third in the South West Premier table, five points behind leaders Barnstaple who were 25-23 winners away at Exmouth. Second placed Weston-super-Mare were 34-25 winners at Ivybridge.
Maids were led out by Sam Churchyard on his 100th appearance for the club and the omens initially looked good when Maids forced the Blues onto the back foot through Blewitt's charge down. It led to a five metre scrum but the home side couldn't force their way over.
Keohane slotted a penalty to make it 3-0 but they were soon trailing thanks to a catch and drive try from Newbury. The extras were slotted to make it 3-7.
Maids then put a few good phases together to present Keohane with the chance to dash down the blindside and he ran in under the posts to make it 10-7, having added the extras himself.
Newbury then took control for a period thanks to their excellent ball retention. Their relentless attack on the Maids line was met by the home side's remarkable defence and the visitors settled for a penalty kick to make it 10-10.
However, the visitors grasped back the lead when they won back possession in their own half, counter attacked and caught Maids' napping with a crossfield kick that was picked up and run in for their second try. Maids responded almost immediately through Dave Cole's try on the stroke of half-time, with Keohane slotting the extras to make it 17-17 at the interval.
Newbury dominated the early phases of the second half and eventually picked a few holes in the Maids' defences to run through and score (17-24).
But, home or away, this Maids side never know when they're beaten. And with time ticking away they summoned up some extra energy to snatch victory from under their rivals' noses.
This Saturday Maids go to Okehampton.
There was also a great win for Maidenhead 3rds on Saturday as they beat Wallingford 2nds 43-0 away.
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