03:53PM, Monday 08 January 2018
Maidenhead RFC 15, Dings Crusaders 12
Maidenhead RFC pulled off the result of their season so far, as they withstood a barrage of late pressure from leaders Dings Crusaders to win 15-12 on Saturday.
In their first game since the tragic passing of club stalwart David Perry, Maids gave a performance he’d surely have been proud of to maintain their astonishing home record at Braywick Park.
Russell Bolton’s men now haven’t tasted defeat since a narrow 8-3 loss to Oxford Harlequins in November 2015 and, although that record came under threat at times from the South West Premier leaders, Maids put all hands to the pump to stretch their winning run at Braywick to 29 matches.
After a respectful minute's silence for David Perry, Maids kicked off and quickly got into their stride.
Jarryd Robinson was the man who went over in the corner for the home side after some patient build up play. Maids protected the ball well, shielding it from Dings’ defence and Robinson skipped away from his marker to place the ball down to make it 5-0.
Ed Keohane missed the chance to take the extras, striking the ball wide of the posts, but Bolton’s side had what would prove a crucial lead.
Dings, however, are not runaway leaders of the South West Premier league for no reason. And they hit back in the first half to level the scores. Maids missed one or two tackles in the back line and the hosts were punished. They would have fallen behind too, had it not been for the Crusaders’ kicker missing an easy conversion.
Before kick-off head coach Bolton has said that his best players must stand up and be counted against the Crusaders, and one of them, Dave Cole, played his part when he carried the touched down following a pushover from the Maids’ pack. This time Keohane had his eye in, slotting the extras from out on the touchline to make it 12-5.
It looked like the home side had made a bad decision when they opted for the corner, rather than take an easy penalty kick at the posts, and, having been gifted possession, Dings levelled things up at 12-12 before the break.
Bolton expected an entertaining, high scoring and free-flowing game before kick-off, but this encounter was tight and tense. Only three points were scored in the second half, and fortunately, they went Maidenhead’s way, with Keohane slotting a penalty from in front of the posts.
The lead was a narrow one, however, and when Macawley was shown a yellow card it seemed certain Maids’ defence would crack under Dings’ pressure. At one point the visitors intercepted a pass and ran the ball 50m toward the hosts’ try-line, but on this occasion the Crusaders were held up. Time and time again the visitors launched attacks on the Maids’ defence in the final minutes, but their resilient rearguard simply would not be breached.
On the final whistle Maidenhead’s twitter account tweeted: “Wow! Unbelievable defence to hold out for the win. That’s for you David.”
Later Bolton tweeted: “Thanks to Dings Crusaders for an epic game of rugby. Tough, tough side. What a way to start 2018.”
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