The opening game of the season finally arrived after a long and tough pre-season the 1st XV travelled to Drapers Farm with confidence to start the season well.
In hot conditions and a very dry and hard pitch, the boys were in a for tough game with Maldon coming down from London 3 Essex last season looking to rebuild.
As expected in the opening stages, both teams were very cagey and errors a regular occurrence but Maldon were first on the scoresheet with the full back sniping through to score a converted try.
BIllericay responded soon after when a line break and offload from centre Tom Boughtwood sent Dan Kell over to score with Gethan Burgess converting to level the scores.
Burgess later slotted a penalty to take Billericay into the lead. But Maldon soon responded with pressure from their big carrying forwards with a score.
Burgess was once again in the action with a try of his own underneath the posts. after some good work from back row Elliott Curtis. Burgess again converted, but just before half time, Maldon again using their forwards drawing in defenders to create space for their winger to dive over in the corner to level the scores. 17-17 HT.
With the heat in full force, both teams were feeling the effects but both battled on with the scoreline still level but a turning point in the game saw a Maldon player red carded for a tip tackle. Burgess converted the resulting penalty to take the lead.
Maldon with a man down knew they were in for a tough finish but credit to them they faced up to the challenge and drove forward relentlessly and defended well.
However the winning Maldon score eventually came but with some controversy with score occurring whilst Dave Talbot lay on the floor with a serious head injury, which the Referee failed to spot. Try awarded and Maldon led by two.
Billericay fought to the end but Maldon held on for the remaining minutes to take the victory in a close fought battle 22-20.
Head Coach Tony Knowles commented after the game
“I was proud of everyone involved and the effort levels they all put in. Disappointed with the referees call at the winning score with Dave Talbot laying knocked out with physios on both teams attending while play was still allowed to be played nearby.”
“But on the other hand we did have chances for further scores where our decision making and execution wasn’t quite up to speed and didn’t use the man advantage effectively. We will head back to Willowbrook and work fixing up a few areas during the week and prepare for the next game”.
On Saturday we welcome Harwich & Dovercourt to Willowbrook for the first home game of the season. Kick off is at 3:00pm.