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19 March: Maidstone U15’s vs Tonbridge Judds

 
This week’s away game saw the U15’s heading for Tonbridge and a game against the Judds, a little overcast above, quite hard underfoot and with a swirling wind to add to the mix, the Stones were ready for a good game and that is what we got.

With depleted numbers, especially in the forwards, we nevertheless had an eager team up for the challenge, however we had to wait for 10 mins into the first half to really see that take shape, and unfortunately that also meant that we had also bled three tries to the home side. So, catch up rugby was on the menu, a reasonably familiar dish, but one that is becoming less palatable for the lads with each game.

Ten minutes down, the self-belief began to kick in, heads came up and Maidstone decided to forget about the opposition and started to play their game – strong forward play started to make inroads into the TJ’s half, better supported forays got the Stones within striking distance of the line on a number of occasions but without success, however when the whistle blew for half time, the feeling was that the final fifteen minutes of the first half had been almost all Maidstone pressure, the question was, could we translate that into points.
 
The second half opened with another quick try from the TJ’s however, that was immediately answered by the Stones, from a scrum on the half way line, good back line work pushed the Red and Whites into the TJ’s 22, and Teo managed to scoop up his own well judged chip over the line and finished it cleanly for the first Stones points. This was quickly followed by a second as Tris broke through the defensive line just outside the 22 and with good support, broke through a number of tackles to bring the tally to two. Maidstone continued to dominate the play, with TJ’s barely reaching the Maidstone half for the next 10 minutes – much improved counter rucking, turnovers and solid pod work from the forwards gave the lads plenty of possession and go forward and a number of chances were held up over the line. The three penalties within ten metres of the home sides try line were enough to give some momentum back to the Judds and a short period in the Maidstone 22 was rewarded by a soft try given up by a lapse in concentration in defence. However, the players knuckled down and still felt they could win this one, contested everything and their improved line speed added pressure to a tiring TJ’s team. George picked up the ball 10 metres out and managed to weave his way over the line for Maidstone’s third, unfortunately time was running out, one last maul ended with the loss of possession and a couple of penalties on the 5 metre line couldn’t be converted into points.

A very good 45 minute performance from the Stones but a well-deserved win from a TJ’s team that defended strongly throughout a game where they were under a lot of pressure – final score 25-17.

Man of the match Teo – significant number of turnovers, lower tackling and all round front foot performance, player of the week, Lucas for a well-balanced, savvy back row shift.
Thanks to the Judd’s players for a clean and hard fought match, the ref and TJ’s coaches for their hospitality and we look forward to meeting again next season.


U16s Kent Cup Final @ Ashford, 12 March 2017
Maidstone v O Elthamians

After the rain, hail and mud of their semi final Maidstone U16s were greeted by spring sunshine for their Kent Cup Final against holders Old Elthamians in Ashford.
 
Both teams started well and set out their tactical stalls.  OEs were dominating territory with clever kicking, forcing the Stones to kick back in to the hands of a talented back three. The Stones meanwhile were looking for opportunities to draw their opposition in to a close quarters battle. One searching OEs kick went slightly too long, in to the arms of Stones full back Gabe Roberts who out sprinted the defence over three quarters of the pitch for an unconverted try after 6 minutes.
 
OEs continued to dominate territory but could not breakdown the steadfast Stones defence.  The OEs’ pressure presented them with the platform for a drop goal on 20 minutes to pull the score back to 5-3.  With scant reward at the line out, OEs kicked for goal from a series of penalties and the Stones were fortunate to see several sail wide before one was converted to end the half with OEs leading 6-5.
 
The Stones had been tighter spots this season and the spirit from a group of lads, many of whom had been playing together for nine years, was tremendous.  Stones looked sharper at the start of the second half, electing to keep the ball in hand to draw in the OEs defence and create space for the backs.  Quick hands from the Stones saw wing James Hoyte storm through from deep and take a perfectly timed pass to wrong foot his opposite number, touching down in the corner for an unconverted try, 10-6 to the Stones.
 
The OEs backline continued to be inventive as they constantly moved their strike runner but were met time and again by crunching tackle from the centres and a backrow eager for turnovers.  Buoyed by their defensive efforts the Stones ventured deep in to OE territory with a series of hard hitting rucks and driving mauls.    With the OE’s backs spread wide keeping a wary eye on the Stones’ nippy Wingers, Centre Louis Skinner cutback towards his forwards, powering through flailing tackles to score the Stones third try which Oli Leyland converted to leave the Stones 17-6 up with 10 minutes to go. 
 
Stung in to action and needing tries OEs launching another aerial assault with some towering kicks and used the driving maul to good effect before they finally breeched the Stones’ defence and the conversion put OEs back in touch at 17-13 with 6 minutes to go. 
 
The Stones were by no means done in attack either. The forwards were in the ascendance, with Jack Royden and Tom Haywood’s rampaging runs fully occupying OEs’ defence and creating space for the backs.    The Stones’ ball carriers made significant gains at every contact, resulting in OEs running out of defenders and wing Charlie Booker crossing the line for the Stones 4th try of the day.  The conversion was missed but the Stones were still two scores ahead at 22-13 a minute to go.
 
Booker’s try was to prove vital as OEs turned the ball over at the restart and an outstretched OEs hand touched down a ball that the Stones wing seemed to have covered in the dying seconds of the game, leaving the Stones running out 22-18 winners.


U15s Game Report, 5th March: v Cranbrook and O Elthamians


On a grey, rainy morning, we set off to Cranbrook for the second time in two weeks for a round robin 12’s competition and a final short 15’s game to round it off.

The lads were certainly up for the challenge of playing the 12’s game and while it was pretty heavy going under foot, there was going to be a lot of running rugby.

The first game was Maidstone vs Cranbrook and with last week’s loss still ringing in their ears, the stones players took the game straight to Cranbrook from the kick off, going uphill didn’t seem to worry the lads and that early pressure was rewarded with the first try, however the usual story crept in where we were just slightly off the mark, with a few dropped balls, nearly but not quite drives in the first half. The second half saw Maidstone strong again and while an opening try for Cranbrook levelled the score, the Stones got back into their groove and could have scored again just before the game was called short due to a serious injury in the Cranbrook ranks.

That draw was frustrating but the lads kept their heads and the next game was against a good Old Elthamians team that had squarely defeated the Cranbrook team. The first half saw Stones working hard and again coming up just short three times and ending the first half without score for either team. The second half was again fairly equal, however OE’s had a break away try down the right wing and then the one period sustained pressure in the Stones 22 led to a well-deserved but hard fought for try.

For the final game of the day, we changed the format and went for a short game of 15’s, Cranbrook with 1- 3 Maidstone players to make up the numbers, all of whom played well for their adoptive team. This game was Maidstone’s game, the Stones stamped their mark on proceedings from the first minute and really showed that when everything comes together, the team supports one another and we find the try line early, then this team can really fly, 7 tries without response and an entire game played in the opposition half was a great sight to see.

Congratulations to the team and the trick will be, can we translate this into a full 15’s game next week against Dover at home – really looking forward to that.

Big thank you to Steen, all of the Cranbrook and OE’s players and coaches.

Cranbrook v U15s  26 Feb 2017

Well, what a couple of weeks can do for the team in terms of performance and commitment. This was our return outing to Cranbrook and a game against a mixed As & Bs team and Maidstone was out to show what they were made of after a couple of disappointing outings vs Aylesford and Folkestone.

Maidstone went straight away onto the front foot and took the game to Cranbrook from the kick off and besides a single soft try given away in the first couple of minutes, the first 20 minutes was almost all Stones, pressure rewarded by a great team effort, finished off by the forwards, with Aiden claiming his second try is as many weeks.

Players stepped up and due to depleted numbers, a number of them played out of position. There were four other near misses in this first third, two from the forwards and two from the backs, however Cranbrook stood strong in defence and their line speed and drift defence put us under pressure and a few handling errors crept in.

The second 20 after a short break saw a change in Cranbrook tactics and a much stronger contest from them at the breakdown, securing ball and gaining the momentum and as we have seen from the lads before, despite individual commitment and some great tackling, we started to bleed points, especially out wide. Spirits remained high and while we were down in points, there was still a lot to play for, the backs were having a much better game and that confidence was clear from continued counter attacking and forays into Cranbrook’s half.

The lack of subs and fatigue started to set in and while commitment was there for the final third, our structure and support flagged somewhat and holes appeared, Cranbrook were able to exploit that and while the Stones kept their heads up, they were able to double their try count with only the occasional period in their opponents half.
 
George took the man of the match accolade for an excellent performance, especially for the first 30 minutes, helping to put the team on the front foot and Doug took player of the week for continuos effort to improve his game, some committed tackling and ball carries too.
 
Big thanks to Steen and his lads for a spirited and well fought game, we look forward to next week’s round robin 12’s.


U15  Aylesford  12 Feb 2017
 

The U15’s have been waiting for this local derby game all season and it is a rare home fixture for us this season. So it was apt that we would be allocated the First team pitch as the stage to meet this very good Aylesford team in front of a healthy sized crowd.

All this anticipation and the fact the Stones players knew some of the Aylesford lads added considerably to the pressure the team felt and that really took it’s toll in the first 40 minutes. Handling errors, un-characteristic holes in defence and a general lack of desire to really get stuck in kept the Stones on the back foot throughout. This was not the team that had walked onto the field last Sunday brimming with confidence and had put its best 40 minutes of rugby all season and the score line reflected that, with Aylesford running in multiple converted tries.
 
However, with few substitutes available and an Aylesford team making readjustments in their squad to help even up the sides somewhat, the last twenty minutes were a different story and the one that we will walk away with and build upon. The Stones decided to finally turn up, decided to win ball and harry the Aylesford team at every breakdown. Line speed improved and the visitors were denied clean ball and the space to use it in. We had a couple of spells in their half and while we were unable to convert our attacking pressure into points, our stalwart defence denied  them the chance to score, except for a single try.
 
This was the Maidstone team that we have come to expect – a young, inexperienced team that has mastered the techniques of the game, with strong defence and the ability to keep their heads up against all opposition. When we start to play as a team, support the ball carrier and fired up to win ball, then we start to create opportunities – we still need to learn how to capitalise and take those when they show themselves.
 
Man of the match and player of the week went to the two new players that took the field this week. Harrison played well in defence on the wing, cleaning up loose ball and pressuring his opposing number, even after taking a knock that would have side lined most players. Ashley, also showed a lot of commitment, even when unsure exactly of his positioning and made a couple of very important tackles. Excellent to see both rising to the challenge in the final 20 minute section of the game.
 
Thanks to the Aylesford players and coaches for making the short hop over and for the Aylesford coaches comments on how impressed they were with the Maidstone team spirit and fight back in the final third.  We look forward to fixtures against them next season. A big thank you also goes to Bob the referee for a very well managed game and to the kitchen & bar staff and volunteers. 


15 Jan: U17 v Medway


On a bitterly cold and wet Sunday morning the Maidstone U17’s travelled to face a strong Medway side who play in the league above the for a what was to be a very tough friendly.

Playing up on the top of the hill the wind was biting as Medway made their game plan very clear in the first 5 minutes, keep the ball in the forwards with strong runners and a tight well  drilled pack. Maidstone were knocking the attackers down like skittles in a bowling alley but the pressure was relentless. Maidstone did manage to turn the ball over a number of times but were slower to breakdowns and were unable to make the best of possession. When the backs did get the ball they ignored the conditions and played it through the hands with good ground made and only scrambled defence and last ditched tackles saving Medway.
Medway however eventually crossed the line for a converted try after numerous battering runs, with hands in the ruck and going over the top assisting their progress!

Maidstone travelled with a squad of 24 and with everyone getting pitch time, substitutes were being made every quarter. Yes it’s a nightmare to manage but a policy we have stuck with through thick and thin has produced a squad of talent rather than over reliance on the odd ‘star’.

So the second half started with Maidstone very much in the game and wanting to put pressure on through decent ball from the forwards and releasing the backs. The intensity of Maidstone’s defence and desire when they had the ball inn hand was putting Medway under pressure, this was turning out to be quite an encounter. Maidstone’s  final got a break and a first tie came from a good move that Lewis finished in the corner. The ever reliable Lex slotted the kick from the touch line to take it to 7 – 7. More subs and the last quarter where Maidstone had their backs to the wall, defending in their 22 for much of it. Huge tackles, notably from man of the match Ralph and Maidstone managed to turn over the ball or force mistakes to launch our own attacks.

With 2 minutes to go another big tackle left the ball loose and Lex kicked it up field, Ollie was first on to it and tapped it forward, unable to pick it up cleanly he went to ground and popped off to Alex coming past at pace, who then beat the defender to score in the corner.

At 7 – 12 Maidstone defended with everything they had and even with an extra 2 or 3 minutes played held strong for an excellent victory.

Both sides gave everything and played an excellent game of rugby. As one of the opposition generously said in the bar, you edged it today and deserved the win.

Also congratulations and thanks to Sam Grice who cheered Mikey and the team on in horrible conditions despite it being her 50th birthday. 

11 Dec 16: U15s v Sidcup/Dartford Barbarians
 
Sidcup/Dartford (Dart-cups?) Babas Away Match Report – Sunday, 11 December 2016
 
On a crisp but gloriously sunny winter’s Sunday morning the U15’s journeyed to Sidcup for a game against a Sidcup & Dartford Baba’s team on their first outing as a team. With rather depleted numbers and a couple of Dart-cups players making up the squad, the lads took to the field with last week’s poor performance still a painful memory. The warm up had lifted spirits and while the Dart-cup team fielded some very big lads, the Stones were raring to go.
 
The first half kicked off with good pressure and a much improved kick and chase and we hemmed the home team in their half for the first 10 mins, however relentless pressure down the left hand side and some good offloading play put Dart-cup into a good attacking position and finally that pressure produced the first converted try. The Stones were not dejected at all and threw themselves back into the mix and some solid but patchy forward play set up some good attacks for the backs, but Maidstone was still not firing on all cylinders and while winning ruck ball, we weren’t securing it enough and at vital moments a number of turnovers relieved the pressure that we were bringing to bear. There were a number of close calls for both sides but the first half ended with a single try on the board.
 
The second half saw Maidstone go up a gear after giving away a soft unconverted try in the opening run of play and we started to control much of the play in the centre of the field. Final execution let us down on a number of occasions, but ball was generally secured. Fenn was just on the wrong side of the try line and a promising run down the right wing with Matt just not able to hold onto the ball 10m out with the defence beaten and a man outside. Evan and Tristan were starting to run the show, with much better service from the forwards, solid set pieces, a revived lineout (with successful lifting for the first time) and some real go forward, supplied especially from player of the week Lewis and the other forwards. This gave the strong centre combination of Jo and Teo a real chance to make headway too. Steve’s defensive and harrying work, with two try saving tackles and finishing off a strong drive on the blindside for our only score earned him man of the match. There were other outstanding performances across the pitch, most notably the penalty won in the dying seconds by Elliott was a master class in keeping the ball in the ruck with a strong jackle, and led to the final scoring play.
 
With a final score of 12:5, the Stones didn’t secure a win, but walked away with their best performance by far of the season, much improved in the second half and their fitness and commitment showed with a really strong finish, even without a bench to rely on. A great final game of 2016, and looking forward to seeing what the lads can do in 2017.
 
Thanks to Bryan and Monty from the Dart-cups, a good performance from the home players and we look forward to a rematch in a couple of months’ time.  

04 Dec 16: U16s v Ldn Irish U16



The U16s set off bright and early for an eagerly anticipated fixture against Middlesex Champions  London Irish.  Before the game the coaches told the lads they were unconcerned about the score but wanted to see character if they went behind and also a vast improvement in the penalty count.
 
A lacklustre warm up translated in to a lacklustre start, with the Irish backs' quick hands leading to an unconverted try after 2 mins.  The Stones replied with a penalty to stay in touch; but for the first quarter Irish were very much in control, with their forwards flooding the backline to create overlaps that inevitably resulted in a second try by their pacey backs.  Nervous glances on the sidelines. This was the test.
 
Heroic defence by the backs exemplified by the halfbacks combining to fell the tree like Irish 2nd row inches from the try line, kept the Stones in the game.  At this point the Stones' forwards decided to join in, fully occupying their opposite numbers at the break down giving the backs room for forays in to the Irish half.  An opportunistic tap and go by the Stones' No.9 led to an unconverted try and the Stones' belief and cohesion returning.  More Stones pressure led to a penalty at the edge of the kicker's range that sailed over for the Stones to lead 10-11 at half time and some mildly concerned looks on the Irish faces.
 
Irish changed tactics for the start of the second half, relying on their forwards to make progress and to harry the half backs.  However the Stones forwards were in the ascendance and no one was surprised to see a series of hard hitting pick and goes resulting in the Loose Head prop crashing over to extend the lead.  The Stones' centres were only just being contained by their Irish counterparts and the pressure led to the Stones to spend much of the third quarter in the Irish 22.  The Irish forwards redoubled their efforts in the set piece to thwart several attacking scrums and line outs, at which the Stones know they should have done better.  As a result, the Stones' reward for a sustained period of territorial and processional
advantage was only 3 extra points.  Irish were by no means done in attack either.  Buoyed by their defensive efforts they ventured in to the Red and White half of the pitch, won a penalty and scored their own tap and go try to close the gap to 4 points with 6 mins to go.
 
The Stone's went back to what they do best: pressure from the wings from the kick off, thudding tackles from the backs, back row turning the ball over and the ball carriers making significant gains at every contact, resulting in Irish running out of defenders and the No.8 scoring in the corner.
 
Irish breeched the Stones' defence in the dying seconds of the game, but could have little complaint with the Stones running out 20-24 winners. 
 
Plenty to be pleased with and plenty still to work on but it was the character and discipline that really stood out for the coaches this week.  Man of the Match with the tap and go try and three penalties Oli Leyland.

U16 (B) v Dover, Sun 6th Nov
Having narrowly beaten Dover at home a few weeks ago the Stone’s Bs  rolled in to Dover knowing that a win was a distinct possibility if they contained Dover’s driving game and used their own rapid backline to good effect.

Dover returned the kick-off in to the heart of the Stone’s midfield who seemed reluctant to muddy their new shirts from long term sponsor Steadfast Cleaning, as Dover strolled in under the posts.  2 mins gone 7-0 Dover.

The Stones’ re-start went so high the rotation of the earth took it 10m and allowed all the pack to be underneath it, win possession and power over the line for an unconverted try.  When the Stones went wide they gained significant ground but in the middle of the park they got tied up in rucks and mauls where there was more skulduggery than in the US election as both sides’ back rows “calibrated themselves to the referee”.
 
The stones began to dominate territory and possession and scored a series of well worked tries but were slightly flattered to go in 27-7 up at half time.
 
In the second half Dover’s kicking game put the Stones under pressure in their own 22, as too often running the ball out of defence led to turnovers.  Dover deserved a score and their forwards powered over for an unconverted try.  Dover’s fondness for the crash ball from the alarming amount of penalties the Stones gave away was matched only by the Stone’s fondness for hammering the ball carriers and the game could have become “one for the purist” but a kick in to the vast tracts of space behind the Dover back line and a great chase down by the winger with the prop following up (yep, modern rugby) led to a period of sustained pressure in Dover’s 22 resulting in a well worked forwards try.
 
Late tries by both sides saw the game end at 44-19 to the Stones but the scoreline did not reflect Dover’s industry or determination and on several occasions they chose not to use blind side over laps that would have made the score much closer.  Plenty to be pleased about for the Stones but plenty to work on too.
 

U15s v Beckenham, Sun 30th Oct
This Sunday we welcomed Beckenham to the Mote for a rematch of last season’s ‘Cranstones’ game and we knew this would be a competitive match. The lads had a good warm up on the first team pitch and came into the game surprisingly focused for a group of players having had a week off over half term.

That focus was clear for all to see for the first 30 minutes of the game. From the kick off, the Stones intensity and physicality put Beckenham on the back foot and most of the half was spent in Beckenham territory, however during a short period in the Maidstone 22 the visitors were able to put together a good series of passes and pushed the ball wide for the first try.

The Stones rose to the challenge and were soon camped out in the other half and the pressure from the forwards started to tell. After a solid scrum and good offloading giving us some go forward, the ball was shifted down the line at quite a pace and Teo was able to break the line, off-loading to Lucas at outside centre who powered across the line and grounded the ball. An excellent try with great support – a team try that really showed what these players can achieve when they play together, as a ‘team’. There were a number of other opportunities in the first half, but we weren’t able to capitalise on those and that would prove to be costly.

At the end of the half, we were 2 tries to one down, but domination in the scrum, great improvements in contesting the rucks, securing ball and ‘go forward’ had really built some belief that this was a game we could win… however the second half was going to be tougher than expected. Our lack of subs certainly took its toll on tired legs and heads, but the team spirit didn’t fade and while a couple of quick tries in the second half knocked the lads back, they came back fighting and while we were able to match the forwards up front, we got sucked in and it became easier for Beckenham to run more tries in, the final ten minutes saw the game get away for us and our visitors were able to take a good win away with them.
Everybody got a mention this week, but the accolades were reserved for the forward work. Liam led from the front and took man of the match, which he could and should share with both Aiden and Jack in the front row. While many big shifts were put in, Doug took player of the week, with his go forward attitude and continually offering himself to carry.

Another important step forward for the team and we will again take a lot from this game going into next week’s cup match against Sevenoaks B.

Big thanks to the Beckenham squad, the ref and the coaches. A clean game played in a good spirit, we look forward to arranging a return game.

U16s match reports 16th Oct

U16 Reds vs Thanet

Two seasons ago a trip to Thanet resulted in the almost immediate purchase of sub coats, this year we were greeted with a slightly blustery autumnal day.  Thanet as ever were well drilled and looked sharp in the warm up whilst the Stone’s struggled to put two passes together or get all players facing the same way at a line out.   Thanet kicked off. No one except the Stone’s No8 expected the ball to carry 10m and 29 players and several coaches were stunned to see him heading for the tryline.  Quick ruck ball 5m out saw the Stones one try to the good.

The Stones quickly added another following and excellent lineout catch and drive.  Territory and possession in the first half belonged to Thanet as their forwards were quick and low at the breakdown and holding their own against the Stone’s rather too upright scrum.   Valiant on the line defending and cruel knock ons deprived Thanet of the score they deserved.

With the wind in their favour in the second half and Thanet needing tries, the Stones used the boot to gain territory and then soaked up Thanet’s considerable offensive pressure in the Yellow and Blue half of the pitch. When they did get their hands on the ball, the Stone’s backs were significantly sharper than in warm up and scored some great team tries.
 
U16 Whites vs Southwark Tigers

The Tigers are great hosts and a trip to play their developing team is always eagerly anticipated by parents and players. Both teams had similar numbers available, although Maidstone were not at full complement until a brief run by parent and player to the local Sports Direct to replace a pair of boots which had been left at home. Southwark’s coach explained before-hand that their squad included several new players and therefore might not be as structured as he would want them to be by the end of the season. Maidstone player’s  decided to meet this with their own brand of chaotic rugby which although reasonably fun to watch, left the coaches ranting and slapping their foreheads in despair.

Towards the end of the first half Maidstone started to get their act together and forwards started to play as a unit , getting to the breakdown early and more than holding their own in the scrum. Half-backs bonded well and backs taking advantage of loose kicking from the opposition to put pressure on the Tigers.

The start of the second half saw the Tigers growing in confidence with Maidstone reverting to individual play rather than the team game they had been using before the break. Some heroic defending managed to keep the Tigers at bay for a good while but their new found confidence led to them driving in a couple of unconverted tries out wide. This seemed to flick a switch in the minds of the Maidstone players and when given the option by the ref to extend by another 10 minutes both teams jumped at the chance. The last part of the game became reasonably comfortable for Maidstone, ending with a couple of well worked tries before the final whistle.

Tries from Maidstone front row players and an unconventional try on the wing presented some variety to our normal scoring methods and rounded off a good days rugby for all concerned. Final score 36-10 to the Stones, a result both teams should be proud of.

U15s Match Report 2nd Oct
We welcomed a mixed A’s & B’s Cranbrook team to the Mote this week for a much anticipated return match. We had fielded a joint team for the cup last season and had won the final game of the season, but this was to be a different game.

Cranbrook and Maidstone went head to head and both sides gave very little in the first 10 minutes, however most of the play was in the Maidstone half, and that started to take it’s toll, as Maidstone started to bleed points with both tries going in through forward play and out wide. As in the Park House game before, the Stones were frustrated by a lot of good individual play but little in the way of coordination and as the first half closed, the team found themselves with 5 tries scored against them without a response.
After having been far too polite in the ruck and offering little to support  our runners in the first half, the sting of going into the second half so far behind galvanised the lads, fast ball started to be won and the chase was on in midfield with support and driving runs from the loose forwards, centres and feeding and supporting the wings.

This change of attitude put us onto the front foot and for the final 20 minutes, Maidstone were in the ascendency, 3 tries run in from Tristan capped a huge shift from the forwards in securing ball and fed off the space and forward momentum supplied by man of the match Teo from inside centre. George in his first game with Maidstone really stepped up in wing position securing player of the week and a call out to Matt for his solid work as fullback, which kept us in the game, especially in the first half.

The score of 34-19 was a good reflection of the game as a whole, the Maidstone team should take away a lot of positives from that second half with 3 tries vs 1 – something to build on with our fixture against Sevenoaks B’s next week.

Big thank you to Carlos the ref for a well-balanced game, the Cranbrook players for a clean and spirited run out and to all of the Cranbrook coaching staff. We look forward to meeting again at the tail end of the season for the return game.       

U16 Reports 25th Sept

The season started with a bang for the U16s with both teams straight in to Kent Cup competition with their first games.  The As at home to Sevenoaks and the Bs away to Folkestone.
Injuries ranging from the mundane to the truly bizzare depleted the squads down to the bare bones, which was a particular shame for the Bs who looked to be shaping up to challenge strongly in the development cup.
 
U16 A Vs Sevenoaks
Last year’s match against Sevenoaks was one of the toughest tests of the season so the Stones were pleased to go 7-0 in the first 3 minutes with classic line out catch and drive.  Sevenoaks made it clear they were bringing the game to the Stones’ forwards, but despite rucking well, their ball carriers made little progress and it was no surprise when the first three tries came from the Stones’ forwards.  The third, with the Hooker nicking against the head followed by a No.8 blindside move was particularly pleasing. 
The Stones’ backs with two debutantes were solid in defence and started finding their attacking rhythm too, with the bonus point try coming from a strong move by the centres just before the half hour.   The attritional game saw the Stone’s 26-0 up at half time but with zero subs left and not much gas left in the tank it was debatable if they’d done enough.
Sevenoaks came in to their own in the second half..  Sevenoaks dominated possession and territory, but their need for tries rather than kickable penalties played in to the hands of the Stones’ defence and the line stayed intact until 44th minute, when Sevenoaks went over in the corner.  Sevenoaks’ change of tactics clearly showed they were canny enough to try and move the tiring Stones all over the park. Those looking to the sidelines for a 10 minute respite substitution saw nothing but team mates that appeared to consist mainly of Icepacks and Tape But for a few stray passes, Oaks could well have been back on terms but those knock ons combined with the Stones’ Churchillian defence restricted the damage to just one more try in the 66th minute.  The Stones held out for a 26-12 victory that ranks as one of, if not their very best.
No man of the match, 17 players of the week.
 
 
Maidstone B vs Folkestone
An excellent welcome awaited us in our first serious run out of the year at Folkestone. The club Chair greeted us warmly and provided us with the chance to use the first team pitch for the game, accommodating not only an elevated viewpoint for the supporters but a 30 yard journey to the bacon rolls and coffee. The B’s started brightly but struggled against the Folkestone ball carriers and some exceptional kicking. Constant re-organisation whilst knocks were dealt with disrupted the Stones’ flow but the lads really stepped up covering unfamiliar positions and they were still in the game at 19-7 down at half time.   Tactical kicking gave the Stones territory and our ‘one lift fits all’ approach led to good retention in the line-outs albeit both sides opted for the same approach. Excellent discipline and strong determination in the scrums gave our multiple SH’s plenty to work with  but half a yard too far in the carry saw too many turnovers.  Terrier like back row play and heroic tackling in the backs kept the Stones’ in touch until injuries took them down to 13 players. Folkestone sportingly reduced their numbers temporarily until we could return to a full strength 14 but they still managed to exploit the space and numerical advantage to put on 20 late points to run out 50-19 winners. 
 
A strong all round team performance made up of plenty of spirit. Flankers having to play scrum half, a stand in hooker having an exceptional game and a winger playing pretty much everywhere apart from the wing (but hey, he got the some ball).
Man of the match: Charlie Booker, solid defending and strong running being rewarded with 2 tries.
Player of the week: Chris Owen, for his brave defending being rewarded with a black eye, mangled hand, raked thighs and gashed knee…must have looked pretty at his birthday meal later on.



U14 Match Report: Maidstone  v Beckenham, Sun 20 March 2016

 
This week saw the U14’s on the road again with an away fixture at Beckenham. We decided to take full advantage of the time, so the session was split in half with a joint training session followed by a game of three halves. With a few spaces in the ranks, a couple of Beckenham players were drafted into the Maidstone ranks and the lads took to the field, fired up to improve on their performances last week.
 
The first half saw most of the action in the Maidstone half and the team started with much more intent and better organisation than the week before. From the outset, tackles were being made and there was a good focus on each player doing his job, however even though the basics were going well Beckenham still broke through the ranks and knotched up a couple of converted tries.

As we have seen in every game this season, the team took to the next half with heads and spirits up and that started to tell. The high point of the half was a great penetrating run from one of the borrowed Beckenham players that created space for the Maidstone 10 to get within a yard of the line, the ball was recycled and Teo was over for a try. The long distance conversion missed by a couple of inches.  Maidstone continued to play most of the time in the Beckenham half, though the scrum creaked a bit, it still held, however even though the Stones had most of the possession, we coughed up the ball too many times in the contact and the half end two tries to one. Also, we lost a couple of players to injury in the half, both of whom had been giving 100%, and we missed their go forward for the rest of the game.

The third half was also fairly tight at the beginning, however the Stones were once again hemmed into our half of the pitch. Beckenham started to open up and while there were brave tackles and a gutsy defence, Beckenham was able to capitalise on a rather narrow defensive line and the Stones continuing to be too polite at the ruck, running in a handful of tries. 

The U14’s are continuing to grow, every player on the pitch took a lot away from the training and game again and there were signs that this is a team building for a great finish to a busy second part of the season. Man of the Match went to Micky for full commitment and putting the team on the front foot. Player of the Week went to Ben for a much improved performance, especially in the second half of the game as number 8, securing ball from the scrum, taking a couple of high balls and good presentation in the rucks.

A big thank you to Mark and Phil for arranging the game and to all of the Beckenham lads for a well natured and keenly contested game


U14s Match Report – Maidstone vs Old Colfeians Development Team, Sun 13 Mar 2016

 

A beautiful spring morning saw the U14’s continue their nomadic existence with another away fixture against an Old Colfeians development squad at the Colfes school grounds. It was great to see Maidstone able to field a full 15’s team for the first time this season, even with a sub on standby.

 

The conditions lent themselves to running rugby and the first half didn’t disappoint, however most of the possession was with the Colfes team, which with a better drilled backline and some real pace, were able to capitalize with a number of well put together converted tries. As we have seen all season, the Stones kept their heads up and having weathered the storm in the first half, knuckled down to make sure the second half would be a different story.

 

A few position changes in mid field and the loose forwards helped change the team dynamic, but also a change in attitude and commitment meant that a different, more rigorous Stones squad took the field. Line speed picked up, some crunching tackles and solid scrummaging started to put the stones on the front foot. Improved rucking meant that possession was 50/50 for the half and all that hard work was finally rewarded with a well finished try. Quickly back in the Colfes 22, with good pressure building a simple handling mistake led to a break away try for the home team and while the second half ended three tries to one, the Stone were really building and the final 10 minutes showed what the team is capable of.

 

Great shifts were put in all over the pitch, especially from the new players. Accolades were difficult to hand out again, however man of the match went to Tristan for a strong second half performance giving the team go forward. Evan took player of the week, for some excellent work at scrum half, making decisive tackles and getting quick ball to an eager backline.

 

Big thanks to the Old Colfes, all the parents that made the trip and we look forward to a rematch next season. Onto Beckenham next week!



U14's

The Reds Hosted Southwark Tigers’ development squad and the teams produced a game clearly inspired by Saturday’s Six Nations feast and played in tremendous spirit. The Stone’s looked to use their greater experience in the opening 20 mins and set the tempo of the game, recycling the ball well and drawing in the Tigers’ defence before getting the ball out to the backs.

The Tigers countered with some powerful running, bravery in the tackle and well supported breaks. The Stones scored a brace of well taken tries and were unlucky to have a third disallowed (Shakey footage on an iphone with no zoom makes an excellent TMO). A well supported break kept Southwark in the game at the first break.

The second 20 mins saw the Stone’s start to rely too heavily on their crash forwards and losea little shape. Both sets of forwards trying to demonstrate that the Courtney Lawes hit was a bit soft. Tries came, but were opportunistic rather than crafted and the loss of shaped allowed the Tigers in for their second try.

The third 20 saw some of the best rugby of the day with the Stones going back to their game plan and the Tigers using their kickers to greater effect putting the Stones back in their own half. The pick of the Stones’ tries came from a series of pick and go rucks drawing the Tigers’ defence in creating the space for a deft chip through; the winger read the bounce perfectly for his 2nd try of the day.

The Stones were denied another couple of tries as the referee brought back seemingly clean breaks for earlier infringements; the crowd (rightly) suspecting that some of the scrums may have been to give the ref a breather. Without the luxury of the Stones’ bench there were some tired Tigers out there, but encouraged by their captain and the promise of hotdogs if they got the extra try (Premier League should try it) the last score of the day went to Southwark with a powerful phase of forward play ending under the posts.

The Stones introduced the Tigers to the traditions of the man of the match bar games.

Free coke and Mars bars may sound like a good thing but here experience really did tell although we’re sure they’ll be practicing for next time.
Supporters Man of the Match

In what was an overall disappointing team performance and result, for his solid all round play this week's  Man of the Match award goes to back rower Ben Knight.

2017-18 London Division 1 South (Top 6)
 

  Team Pl Pts
1 Medway 10 48
2 CS Rugby 10 40
3 Chichester 10 36
4 Havant 10 36
5 Ldn Cornish 10 34
6 Brighton 10 26

last updated 12/11/17

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