09:25PM, Wednesday 15 December 2021
The scoreline didn’t quite tell the whole story as Maidenhead RFC were beaten 43-0 by fourth-placed Sevenoaks on Saturday. But head coach David Mobbs-Smith insists lessons will be learned from it as they look to do better against another of the front-runners, Wimbledon, this weekend.
The coach always knew these two matches prior to the Christmas break would be huge tests for his young but improving squad, but there was also an element of frustration that they weren't able to take their first half chances.
Maids fought well in the first half, had a try disallowed and were thwarted by some excellent defending from the home side, yet at 14-0 down at the break they were very much still in the contest.
That remained the case until around the hour mark when Sevenoaks’ greater physicality took its toll and their challenge faded badly in the final 20 minutes.
“We started really well,” said Mobbs-Smith. “They'd beaten the top of the table side (Dorking) a couple of weeks before so were in form.
“But we were so dominant in the first 20/25 minutes, and we just got nothing out of that period, so it was 0-0, and they then got on top. Up until an hour we were still in the competition, but then we just ran out of a bit of gas. They were just a bigger, more physical team than us.
“It was quite hard for us to take a scoreline like that, but the performance was better than the scorelline.”
Maids have been scoring tries of late, and managed three in their 24-20 win over Sutton & Epsom the previous week, but they were repeatedly repelled by Sevenoaks’ determined defence in the first half, and results this season show they’re a side that gives little away.
“Their wins this season have been pretty big, and their defeats have been narrow to one or two of the other top sides,” he said.
“It was wet and muddy, but they played some amazing rugby to score 43 points in those conditions.
“We were disappointed with the scoreline but the effort from the lads was outstanding. We were so much attacking, but they just held us out, we had a disallowed try, and slowly they got into the game more. On the day they were that bit better, but certainly in the first half we played well and the scoreline could have looked a bit more respectable for us.”
Mobbs-Smith believes Maids will be much better equipped for their next clash against Sevenoaks and believes they’ll pick up useful little pointers from each of their matches this season, playing against sides they’ve never met before in the club’s history. It should stand them in much better stead for the remainder of the campaign and following seasons, but there will be an element of learning lessons the hard way. On Saturday. the head coach expects Wimbledon to bring their A-game to Braywick Park, and although Maids will be looking to improve on their 29-7 defeat back in September, it remains to be seen if they’ve improved enough in the last three months to challenge for the victory.
“For us this season we’re playing sides and going to grounds we've never been to before, so it's a novel experience,” he said. “We learn every time we go, how the ground works, the winds, the clubhouse. But we are thoroughly enjoying this season and the adventure of going to new places.
“Wimbledon are a very attacking side; they play some brilliant rugby. At full steam they're a good side and we'll be under the cosh for large parts of the game, but can we keep them out and then try and score against them.”
Visitors to Burnham Park Hall on Monday May 16 can undergo a ‘living with dementia experience’ as part of National Dementia Action Week.