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Maidenhead RFC shut out leaders Weston-super-Mare to put themselves back in promotion picture

Dave Cole

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Maidenhead RFC 22, Weston-super-Mare RFC 0

Dave Cole barged his way over for a hat-trick of tries as Maidenhead RFC produced arguably their finest display of David Mobbs-Smith’s tenure so far to beat Weston-super-Mare 22-0 at Braywick.

Weston arrived at Braywick Park this afternoon as South West Premier Division leaders, but they left it bruised and thoroughly bedraggled after an afternoon of persistent big hits and heavy rainfall.

Like South Africa against England in the World Cup final last weekend, you sensed Maids were on it from the word go, squeezing the life from their opponents with suffocating early tackles.

For all of their early dominance and territory, Maids had only a slender lead after 20 minutes, given to them by Will Runciman’s penalty in the ninth minute.

Weston had their moments in the first period but came up short in their opponents’ 22, knocking the ball on following a tackle close to the Maids’ tryline on the half-hour.

It looked as though Maids fine start was starting to fizzle out when a couple of passes slipped through soaking wet fingers, but a rhino-like rampaging run down the right touchline from Cole put them back on the front foot.

Ben Tuthill’s half was brought to a premature conclusion in the 37th minute when he was yellow carded for a high tackle in his own half and it didn’t take long for Maids to take advantage.

From the penalty they kicked for the corner, won the line out and began to pummel the Weston defences. The ball was worked out to Cole on the left and he barged over from close to the line. Mike Davies slotted the conversion to make it 10-0 to the hosts at half-time.

Resilient defence was at the heart of Maids’ performance and there was no let up from the home side after the interval. Niall Crossley very nearly gave them a perfect start to the period when he intercepted a pass and ran almost the length of the pitch, handing off tackles as he went. It looked like he might get in at the corner but was held up and the ball was knocked on giving Weston a reprieve.

Weston attempted to run the ball and punch holes in the Maids defence but they made little ground. In fact, at times they were pushed backwards, such was the effectiveness of the home side’s defending.

And their earlier reprieve proved temporary. In the 63rd minute Cole got his second try of the match, bulldozing his way through with bodies hanging off him. It was scrum half Joe Parkin that set up the try with a darting, sniping, run through the Weston backline. Davies slotted the extras to give Maids a commanding 17-0 lead.

With Maids in such a miserly mood there was no way back from here for the leaders who by this stage surely knew they would be dethroned at the top of the South West Premier by Barnstaple, Maids’ hosts next weekend.

With time running out Maids had Weston exactly where they wanted them - on the back foot and inside their own 22. With five minutes on the clock a push and drive from the Maids pack created the chance for Cole to push over for his third try of the day. Davies missed the extras from close to the touchline but it mattered little.

They had one last chance to run the ball and perhaps nick a bonus-point try in the final seconds but Weston held firm.

Victory pulls Mobbs-Smith’s side back to with six points of leaders Barnstaple who hammered Launceston 36-5 away this afternoon. It also took them to within two points of second placed Weston, who they outplayed and outfought on this particularly soggy afternoon.

Afterwards forward Andy Berry said: “To be honest with you I think we were due that (kind of performance). We defended very well at Drybrook in the first game of the season but we hadn’t really given a 100 per cent performance yet.

“That’s probably up there. There are still things to work on. We could have had a bonus point try. But I’m proud of the lads actually. We had big players away today but the boys stepped up well and it was Andy Darlo’s first game back and he was incredible.

“We have been working pretty hard on our top tackling in recent weeks in training. It paid dividends. When you come up against these big South West backs the only way to play them is to put them on their backs quickly. That keeps them out of the game and then hopefully they kick the ball back to you which today they did.

“I said to Coley you’re going to have to score three to get man of the match. I’ll take credit for the third one. But he was superb and when he’s got the fire in his belly he can do anything in this league.

“It’s a massive three weeks for us. We’ve got Barnstaple away and then Bracknell at home after that. We set our standards high this year and we haven’t really had a very quick start so it was important for us to put in a performance today.”

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