06:36PM, Saturday 28 September 2019
Andy Berry scored one of Maids' five tries
Maidenhead RFC 33, Ivybridge RFC 36
Maidenhead were left to count the cost of a series of handling and kicking errors as they were beaten 36-33 in another breathless encounter at Braywick Park.
David Mobbs-Smith's side picked up two bonus points for their efforts, and ran in five tries of their own - four of them in the first 40 minutes.
But, having fought back from being 21-5 down midway through the first period to lead 26-21 at the break, their failure to make the most of the possession and territory they enjoyed at the start of the second half proved decisive as momentum swung back to Ivybridge who won the match with late tries from Matt Lamont and Damon Ackerman.
It seemed certain Maids would build on their narrow five point lead in the minutes after the interval but, time and again they gifted the ball back to the visitors through knock-ons, offsides and other infringements.
Had they put points on the board they'd have probably cantered away to a comfortable home win. Instead, Ivybridge seized the initiative to inflict a second straight defeat on Maids.
Maids began the game well, immediately putting Ivybridge under pressure, forcing them back toward their own try line. In the 11th minute they made that pressure count, Chris Campbell crashing over after Maids recycled the ball well from a rolling maul. Ed Keohane failed to kick the conversion from close to the touchline.
Most inside Braywick Park would have expected them to build on that lead but instead Ivybridge replied from their very first attack. Charlie Briant was the man who broke the Maids' defensive line, spinning away from a tackle to score under the posts. Matt Grieveson - who kicked excellently throughout - added the extras to make it 7-5.
Maids - and coach Mobbs-Smith - will want to forget about the next 10 minutes as the jittery hosts handed Ivybridge the lead. First Dave Cole had the ball ripped from his grasp and the ball was slung wide on the left for Ben Watts to touch down under little pressure. Grieveson's conversion bounced off the posts and through to make it 14-5. The Ivybridge captain Jay Gerahty then barged his way over from close range, enabling Grieveson to open the gap to 21-5 with the conversion.
It seemed Maids had a mountain to climb but their response in the final 15 minutes of the half was impressive. First Will Macaulay broke through and fed inside pass for Joe Parkin to score under the posts, Keohane kicking the extras to make it 21-12. Andy Berry and Sam Hallett were heavily involved in the build up to the try.
Then, five minutes before the break Scott Prince danced through some tackles. He was held up just short but Parkin recycled the ball for Elio Mandozzi to take it on at pace and he powered his way over to make it 21-19 with Keohane's conversion.
Incredibly, there was still time for Maids to complete the comeback with Cole and Berry combining for the latter to go over and, with Keohane's conversion, the home side trotted off with a 26-21 half-time lead.
Maids set up camp in the Ivybridge half for the first 10 minutes of the second period, but a combination of poor handling, errors of judgement and fine defensive play from the visitors prevented them from adding to their lead. You felt they might live to rue those missed opportunities and that proved to be the case.
Grieveson got Ivybridge back to within two points with another excellent penalty kick, and Maids failed to get the mistakes out of their system. In the 62nd minute a poor kick went out on the full, handing Ivybridge a try in a dangerous position. They took full advantage, working the ball wide on the left for Lamont to spin off a couple of poor tackles to touch down. Grieveson kept his composure to make it 31-26 to the visitors.
A few minutes later they all but wrapped up the win when Keohane's pass close to the Ivybridge line was cut out by Ackerman who turned on the afterburners to run the length of the field and score, dodging Ben Mitchell's attempted covering tackle in the process. The conversion was missed but Ivybridge led 36-26.
A couple of bizarre refereeing decisions didn't help Maids, especially when Keohane looked to be in for an easy score only for play to be brought back for a Maidenhead penalty. They did give themselves some hope when Parkin returned the favour for Macaulay, nipping through and offloading to the forward who dived over close to the posts. Keohane slotted to make it 36-33, but, despite keeping possession well in the closing stages and making some inroads into the visitor's half, Ivybridge held on for an exciting victory and one which maintains their unbeaten start to the campaign.
Maids will look to regroup after two narrow defeats and get back to winning ways at Launceston next Saturday.
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