12th March 2011

High Wycombe 34 - 31 Maidenhead
(league fixture)

The short trip down the A404 to High Wycombe was not a satisfying one for Maids 4th XV this weekend, losing 31-34. It was a high scoring, open game of rugby which I’m sure would have been enjoyable for any neutral spectator watching, not that there tend to be many of those at BB&O 2 North level.

Maids started brightly, controlling possession and interlinking well. Several good phases of play pushed Maids into the High Wycombe 22 and a typical strong run from prop Tony Rawlings splintered the defence, allowing him to drive over for the first try of the game; duly converted by Rob Wilkins.

High Wycombe fought back with a series of quick tap penalties and with the Maidenhead defence napping drove deep into the Maidenhead half, eventually scoring a rather easy try. Lester Martin then scored from a well worked backs move which allowed him to cut back inside the drifting High Wycombe defensive line to score under the posts, again converted by Rob Wilkins. However High Wycombe struck back almost immediately, yet again from a set of quick tap penalties which Maidenhead were slow to react to, and although it appeared that Lester Martin made an excellent last ditch tackle, managing to get his arm under the ball to stop the High Wycombe player from grounding it, the referee allowed the try taking the score to 14-12 to Maidenhead.

In defence, Maids looked poor, and during the half lost both Mike Brenner and Aaron Lambert to the Sin Bin; Brenner having made a misdemeanour at ruck time and Lambert making a disputed high tackle. Maids were far more imposing in attack and had the opportunity to score again when Lester Martin rounded the High Wycombe hooker to go over in the corner. However he was adjudged to have knocked on whilst scoring and the try was disallowed. High Wycombe eventually crossed the white wash again just before half time, taking the score to 14-17.

Maids started the second half with one of the quickest tries you are likely to see. From the kick off High Wycombe failed to catch the ball, instead deciding to encircle it and watch it bounce. The oncoming John Wanklyn capitalised on this, catching the bouncing ball and running in completely unopposed under the posts, an estimated 15 seconds after the restart. Maids scored another soon after, having apparently increased their intensity following half time, when Rick Thorley dotted down. This took the score to 28-17, with the new fly half Tom Day slotting both conversions.

Repeated infringements, coupled with reacting slowly to penalty decisions, again pushed Maids deep into their own half. High Wycombe scored out wide through their backs bringing the score to 28-22. A Tom Day penalty then gave Maids a healthy nine point gap, but High Wycombe scored again in a similar fashion to their last try; 31-27.

With four minutes to go the game took its final, controversial, twist. Maids again committed an infringement and again were slow to line up in defence; deciding instead to argue the decision with the referee. High Wycombe took their customary quick tap and ran the ball. At this stage, with the arguing continuing, the referee clearly shouted “Wait”. Those Maidenhead players who had lined up in defence reacted to this command by the referee and quite rightly stopped. However, for some reason the referee allowed play to continue and High Wycombe scored almost unopposed in the corner.

Maidenhead tried to fight back in the last three minutes, but it was in vain, High Wycombe running out 34-31 victors. Maids felt duly hard done by and, despite some poor first up tackles and discipline, had probably done enough to justify the win. However it was not to be. Two league bonus points did come their way and the team will continue to fight their way to the end of the season, aiming for that coveted 2nd place and possible promotion.

(Match statistics)