Okes hold their nerve against Maidenhead

Ben Fox
Ben Fox

After last week’s disappointing showing, the Okes needed a strong performance back on home turf against first time visitors Maidenhead.

The visitors received the kick off playing down the slope, an incline against which both sides would play better than when it was in their favour.

Initial stages saw Maids threaten but Okes resisted and made their way upfield through various penalty awards. Okes were back on the attack themselves though and, as the match approached the quarter hour mark, elastic winger Brandon Horn made the first of many forays, bouncing off attempted Maids tackles taking play into the Magenta’s twenty two.

Okes piled on the pressure through a series of pick and goes but failed to cross the whitewash, Maids eventually relieving the pressure and countering downfield.

Okes are already learning that you have to take your chances when they came your way at this level, and that point was proven once more as the visitors struck in the 16th minute to take the lead.

From an initial set scrum, where the sides had parity for the most of the game, they spread the ball left where Okes were guilty of flying in too keenly. An overlap was created and the move was finished by prolific left winger Prince. The conversion was pushed across the face of the posts and the Okes trailed by 5 only.

With five minutes of the half remaining, Okes finally made a breakthrough. The penalty count was now ramping up and from one such award Okes scrum half Richard Bolt took a quick tap and go. He found half back partner Dan Fogarty, who slid through an astute grubber towards clubhouse corner. Okes right winger Ryan Lee set off like a rocket in swift pursuit, and won the race to the touchdown in front of the jubilant home support.

Now backed by the slope, Okes would have perhaps expected to be in the ascendancy during the second forty. However, for long periods Maidenhead held sway. Their larger pack initially played keep ball without ever really threatening to make serious inroads.

Okes were again disrupted by injuries and forced to shuffle their already rejigged backline. Penalty awards were now weighted in the visitors’ favour, and soon punted deep forcing Okes back into their twenty two and onto the defensive once more.

Into the last ten minutes and Okes were still hanging onto their narrow lead. A kick deep into the Okes twenty two was chased more in hope than promise, however the Okes contrived to make a mess of their defensive clearance.

It was charged down by the visitors, and when the ball bounced kindly into Okes in goal area it was that man Prince who was again on hand to pounce and give the visitors the lead with just over five minutes remaining. Keohane added the simple extras.

Finally, and for the first time in a while, Okes re-entered Maids territory as they strove for the score that would restore their lead. The home side showed renewed vigour and intent as they probed away. Brandon Horn was then set free down the Okes left with three minutes remaining.

He chipped the last defender but couldn’t quite win the foot race. The Okes were now camped on Maids five-metre line though as they threw everything at the visitors in search of a match winning score. The hosts forced scrums and penalties as they continued to press. They used backs and forwards alike in their efforts to cross the line.

Then just as it seemed nothing would prove fruitful, replacement flanker Ollie Francis took a pass on a sweet, short line and dived over to send the home fans delirious. Okes had sealed another valuable home victory at the death.

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