01:54PM, Wednesday 13 April 2022
Maidenhead 12, Sevenoaks 22
Maidenhead lost to league leaders Sevenoaks on the very last play of the day, after a thrilling, absorbing clash at Braywick Park which shows just how close Maids are getting to the league's best sides.
For much of this season Maidenhead were very much second best to the likes of Sevenoaks, Dorking and Hertford at the top of the London & South East Premier Division, but the strides they've made on and off the field in the last few months now mean they can go toe-to-toe with them over 80 minutes.
They might have lost Saturday's clash 15-22, but they had several opportunities to win the game before the visitors stole over in the final seconds.
They left Braywick Park feeling mightily relieved yet were denied the bonus point win which would have wrapped up the title. They now must pick up points from their final match at home to Hertford to prevent Dorking from snatching away the championship. Dorking visit Tunbridge Wells in their final match on Saturday, April 23.
Maids head coach David Mobbs-Smith was naturally disappointed to have lost such a close encounter, however, proud of the way the hosts had competed and pushed their opponents to the very last.
“Yes, we lost on one of the very last plays of the game,” he said. “And we'd had our own chances to win, playing from very deep in our own half to almost score a try. If we had we'd have won the game, it was that close.
“We also missed a penalty when it was 17-15 to them. We had two chances to win it, but it just wasn’t our day.
“We were leading 8-7 at half-time and held onto that lead until the 72nd minute, but they then took the lead and managed to get that late try.
“Despite this we played brilliantly. We had two opportunities which didn't quite go for us. They were fighting for their lives at the end. We now look like a top four side and that was a top four side performance.”
The game also marked Ed Keohane's last at Braywick Park before his move out of the area with his family in the summer. The club marked the occasion with a presentation to the centre after the final whistle and a big Grand National themed party, which included players dressed as jockeys and horses, was held in the clubhouse afterwards. However, the highlight of the day was seeing Maids give as good as they got against a side as good as Sevenoaks.
“There was natural disappointment when you don’t win a game like that,” said Mobbs-Smith. “We had a Grand National themed party and a DJ playing in the evening.
“Players dressed as horses and jockeys. It was a big day culminating in a great game at the ground.
“The 2s also just lost, 32-29 and they also had a chance to win it at the very end. The club was buzzing, and the supporters want to see these exciting rugby matches.
“I’m very proud of the players and what they’ve achieved.”
On Keohane’s departure, Mobbs-Smith added: “He played so well, He had a great game. He played well against the player perceived as the best 10 in the league, and there was an award made to him afterwards in the clubhouse. He’s been an amazing player and personality within the club. It’s going to be sad to see him go, but this happens in sport.
“It happens either prematurely or when people retire. He’s young enough to carry on playing socially for life, but it’s just about whether you want to get up on a Sunday feeling like that.”
Visitors to Burnham Park Hall on Monday May 16 can undergo a ‘living with dementia experience’ as part of National Dementia Action Week.