Mike Walker - first try kicked in thriller
Newbury Blues 31 Maidenhead 28
IT was like two boxers slugging it out as Blues scored a points win to wreck Maidenhead’s perfect start in South West One East.
The result slipped Blues back into third place in the table, separated from Maids by Old Patesians but throwing back open the league chase.
“It was a good game for the crowd but not a good game for my nerves,” said head coach Lee Goodall after his side saw a 31-14 lead cut down in the closing stages.
“The first half got us where we are and the second we dug in and I couldn’t have asked for more.”
The only down side to the match was the injury to Maidenhead’s Alex Cannon, who was caught by a late but innocuous-looking tackle from Josh Love that caught the winger off-balance and he went down with a suspected dislocated knee cap, and the match was held up for more than 15 minutes before the player could be stretchered off.
Blues had set off at pace and Toby Thorne was almost in for a first minute try, but they did go ahead four minutes later when Love twice delivered delightful feeds before Iain Herriot sent home Mike Walker for a try converted by Dan Thorne.
But it was a tit-for tat tie with Maids having slightly the better of the set pieces, and Mike Parrott pocketed a pushover try converted by Tom Finnie before more blows were traded with Josh Winfield powering over and Cannon finishing wide out with Thorne and Finnie adding the respective extras.
Thone was yellow carded and Maids’ Ed Keohane followed him off as Joe Pigott edged Blues ahead with a simple penalty, and five minutes before the break Rory Jones finished off a decisive move with Thorne making it 24-14 at the interval.
The delay came five minutes after the re-start when Love chased Josh Bartlett’s kick, which was fielded well by Cannon before he was caught by the stretching centre and the stretcher and ambulance were quick to arrive.
The re-start soon saw Blues chalk up their bonus point try when Dan Thorne was teed up for a drop goal attempt that came back of the post, but with visiting defenders static, Pigott was quick to pounce and touch down another converted score.
Maidenhead had to wind it back and they got a breakthrough midway through the extended half when number eight Ryan Long got in for Finnie to hit the mark again, and Dan Thorne’s attempt to add something the gap was this time thwarted by the post, with nobody on hand this time to snap up the rebound off the penalty.
Maidenhead got the closing bonus for which they had been working when Keohane was played in for a try, again converted by Finnie to provide the two bonus points that kept his side on top but kept everything up for grabs.
Newbury Blues: Bartlett; Walker, Herriott, Love, T. Thorne; D. Thorne, Pigott; Hicks, Drysdale, Macauley; Bastable, Doel; Winfield, D. Stewart, Jones. Subs: G. Stewart, O.Shea, Wackwitz.
Maidenhead: Finnie; Cannon, Bart, Keophane, Burnett; Jansen, Hill; Parrott, Jones, Marriott; Churchyard, White; Cadden, McAuley, Long. Subs: O’Byrne, Barratt, Thompson.