Mon 26 Mar 2018 19:30

Sat 24 Mar 2018, 15:00

Bournemouth RFC

24 - 21

(HT 21-14)

Maidenhead RUFC

Bournemouth RFC

Season 2017/2018 • 31st League Season

South West Premier • Level 5

Bournemouth (2nd) v Maidenhead (3rd)

Saturday, 24 March 2018, KO 3pm at Chapel Gate

Match Sponsored by Barkers

Result: Bournemouth 24/3t3cp v 21/3t3c Maidenhead
HT: 21/3t3c v 14/2t2c

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Bournemouth: Alex Sutherland, Dan Stewart/t, Alex Everett-Bolter, Scott Chislett, Danny Kirkpatrick, Grant Hancox/3cp, Sam Hardcastle/t, Tom Napier, Alan Manning, Luca Firetto, Adam MacDonald, Jack Hennings, Richard Sharp, Alexander Bennett, Joe Rees/C. Substitutes: Conrad Carkeet, Wyn Roberts, Joe Spiller. Touch Judge: Gavin Fisher. DoR: Will Croker. Coach: Jon Sanchez. Medical Team: Andy Curtis. Records: Sam Hardcastle extended his own career league records to: 317 starts (304 as scrum-half), 185 tries and 958 points. Grant Hancox extends his own career league record to 90 penalty goals. Milestones: Grant Hancox passes 250 (257) points in a season for the second time, the third time it has been achieved all told. Conker Gin Man of the Match: Jack Hennings.

Referee: James Milliner. Referee Adviser: Simon Thomas.

A couple of changes in the backs. Dan Stewart moved across to the left wing to takeover from Wyn Roberts who was on the bench. Danny Kirpatrick came off the bench to replace Dan on the right wing. In the forwards the returning Jack Hennings took over form Jo Burns to partner Adam MacDonald at lock

The ‘Beast from the East’ had relented at last and we were left with a mild if grey overcast day with just a breath of wind from the North if it could be bothered to disturb the flags. After recent heavy rain, underfoot was very soft with the pitch looking like it’s looking forward to its fortnight or so of respite.

Maidenhead (fly-half Sam Angell) kicked off from left to right as viewed from the stand and to their right.

Maidenhead chased the kick with some intent and bundled receiver Sharp unceremoniously into touch for a line-out. As Maidenhead went left Bournemouth turned the ball over and Hardcastle made a break left supported by Kirkpatrick. Play was taken into the Maidenhead 22m where Hardcastle was on hand once again to make a typical impish break and score under the posts in a manner you can imagine Cliff Morgan getting all excited about. Hancox kicked the first of his four goals and Bournemouth lead 7-nil after just a couple of minutes play. Maidenhead chased down the restart with equal dtermination and when Bournemouth knocked on had a scrum. Going left flanker Will Macauly made a dangerous break into the Bournemouth 22m. The attack swithed back right before going back left as Maidenhead sought a way through the Bournemouth defence. The siege was lifted when Maidenhead were penalized for ‘holding on’ and Hancox found touch to his left on the halfway line. Bournemouth punched up the middle through Rees. Maidenhead managed to steal it but Hardcastle stole it back and chipped the ball. Maidenhead’s kick was returned by Sutherland and Maidenhead went left before kicking. Fielded by Rees, he made ground and Bournemouth took play back into the Maidenhead 22m where a promising move was brought to end when Bournemouth were penalized for crossing. Angell found touch to his left but Maidenhead were penalized for ‘not releasing’ as Bournemouth countered the initial drive. From the Maidenhead 10m, Hancox ‘pulled’ his pop at goal to the right of the near post for a Maidenhead 22m drop out. Stewart ran the ball back left and with Bournemouth maintaining good ball retention worked it back right through Hennings but a knock on in the contact yielded a scrum to Maidenhead tight on their left hand touchline. Not certain what happened next but there was Manning bursting free down that touchline to score wide out. Crucially in the context of, what was to prove to be, a very tight game Hancox kicked a very fine goal and Bournemouth lead 14-nil after a quarter-of-an-hour. Hennings fielded the restart and fed Hancox going right. The fly-half chipped the ball but Maidenhead recovered and attacked left. Bournemouth turned the ball over and Hancox again kicked but this time long, chased down by Kirkpatrick. Maidenhead managed to clear to their right but Bournemouth conspired to lose the throw-in and get penalized for their troubles. Angell found touch to his right but when they attacked left off the line-out there was a knock on in the contact and Bournemouth had a scrum on their own 10m. Rees broke off the back of the scrum going right and Everett-Bolter made a break going further right supported by Hardcastle taking play to just outside the Maidenhead 22m. Stewart came off his wing and was through the gap engineered for him and scored with justifiable delight left of the posts. Hancox kicked the goal and Bournemouth had a 21-nil lead a quarter of the way through the match which, if slightly unbelievable, was no more that their enterprising play and determined defence deserved. The crowd of course loved it. However Maidenhead are not third in the table by accident. Despite Bournemouth continuing with their enterprising play, we had a delicate grubber kick from captain Rees for full-back Sutherland to chase for instance, a couple of penalties against them found they were defending the throw-in on their own 5m line. Their big pack was always going to have their say in proceedings and sure enough, despite some brave resistance from their opposite numbers, their pressure eventually lead to scrum-half Will Runciman scooting through to score. Outside centre Ed Keohane kicked the goal from just right of the posts and Bournemouth were pegged back at 21-7 after half-an-hour. Kirkpatrick caught the restart tight on his own touchline but the touch judge’s flag almost immediately went up for a foot in touch. Going left Maidenhead kicked but Sutherland fielding the ball was forced into touch for a maidenhead line-out. A ‘not straight’ yielded a scrum to Bournemouth but this proved to a bit of a poisoned chalice as the Maidenhead shove made things very untidy for Bournemouth at the back of their scrum and were penalized in their efforts to recover the situation. Angell found touch to his left outside the Bournemouth 22m but the Bournemouth threw Bennett to be amongst the angels and the little angel ‘nicked’ the ball. Bournemouth went left through Hennings and the ball was worked to Kirkpatrick. He had a run but was ‘scragged’ and the ball was lost. Maidenhead went left and, to ooohs from the crowd, the pass wide was almost intercepted but Maidenhead had a scrum for a knock on instead outside their 22m. Coming first right then back left from the scrum, Maidenhead kicked and Sutherland found touch to his right. Maidenhead, maintaining the pressure, took a quick throw-in and Bournemouth were penalized on the halfway line. The Maidenhead forwards drove off the line-out outside the Bournemouth 22m. Bournemouth put up a stern defence as Maidenhead strove for the line crabbing right. The ball was released left, then came back right. When it came back left once again, full-back Scott Prince came into the line and dived over in the corner. With the last kick of the game Keohane kicked a goal from the touchline and this game had taken on a whole new complexion as the two sides trooped for their half-time oranges with just 7 points in it at 21-14 to Bournemouth.

Bournemouth found themselves on the defensive right at the start of the second half, a phrase I had used in my last report. After an exchange of kicks, Bournemouth were penalized for a high tackle and Angell found touch to his left just 10 metres out from the Bournemouth try line. Despite Bournemouth’s defensive efforts there was a sense of inevitability about what was about to happen and hooker Mark Darlington confirmed the home crowd’s worse fears by being at the bottom of a pile of Maidenhead bodies to be awarded a try. Keohane curled his kick in immaculately from the 15m line and the game was tied up at 21-all just three minutes into the new half. As you will see from the score there was only one more score in the half and that was right at the death. Suffice to say in the meantime the two sides slogged it out in an increasingly tense encounter. Bournemouth can count themselves lucky that the final pass to, what I take to be right wing George Blewitt, was adjudged to be forward by referee James Milliner just a couple or so minutes after that equalizing score. A couple of yellow cards, a Hancox penalty attempt pushed pass the far post, Maidenhead held over the line after battering the Bournemouth line all added to the intensity of the struggle before us as each side strove for that crucial score. It was into injury time before the dramatic denouement came. From a line-out on their own 10m line, Maidenhead were awarded a scrum. Going right Bournemouth countered when Maidenhead knocked on taking play into the right hand corner. Coming back left Maidenhead were penalized in their attempts to break up the attack and the defender was ‘yellow carded’ for his part in the proceedings. Hancox from left of the posts and just ten or so metres out kicked the goal that kept Bournemouth’s play-off aspirations very much alive. As the ball sailed through the posts for referee Milliner to blow for no side the players’ reaction was evidence enough of their feelings as to having prevailed in what was a great game. The crowd also showed their appreciation of the fare to which they had been treated as they warmly applauded the two sides off the field of battle.

It was a game worthy of two sides disputing the right to reach for higher things. With three games left, Dings have secured the championship but the play-off awaits the second-placed team. With 15 points available to either team, as things stand we need 12 of them to guarantee securing that second-place slot. With two away matches that is no easy task let alone having to overcome fourth-placed Newton Abbot at home. Our next league match is away to Brixham on 7 April, KO 3pm and our last home match is on 14 April against Newton Abbot, KO also 3pm. In the meantime we have the Hampshire Cup Final clash against Havant at Hooks Lane next Saturday, KO 1pm but please check before travelling. A supporters’ coach is being organized. Book your seat via the website www.bournemouth-rugby.co.uk/events. Make sure you are there however you choose to travel, it is a nostalgic reprise of a final many years ago before those boundary changes altered the rugby landscape.

Doug Warren

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