Essex League division one

A SEVERELY depleted Braintree side stepped up to the plate in style on Saturday to maintain the club’s 100 per cent start to the new season in a pulsating Essex derby.

Braintree’s victory over local rivals Maldon made it four wins out of four for Brian Joslin’s men and keeps them at the top of Essex One due to their superior points differential over rivals East London.

The Black and Ambers controlled the first quarter of an hour of the game despite having to make seven changes to their starting line-up due to injuries and unavailability.

Early pressure led to the ball being fed to prop Chris Halford who burst through the Maldon defence to score a second minute try, which was converted by Kingsley Joslin for a 7-0 lead.

Nine minutes later wing James Abbott intercepted a stray pass as Maldon were putting the visitors under pressure and he outstripped the opposition defence to score under the posts.

Joslin’s conversion put Braintree 14-0 in front and it looked like the men from Robbs Wood were about to run away with the game when they scored a third try on 15 minutes.

Full-back Glen Whyatt was involved in the beginning of the move on one side of the pitch and then popped up on the opposite flank to finish off a through the hands backs move to score out wide.

But this time Joslin was unable to convert the score and despite establishing a 19-0 lead with less than a quarter of the game gone the wheels then fell off Braintree’s wagon.

Maldon hit back on 18 minutes when a kick to touch from a penalty set up a successful catch and drive move by their forwards from a line-out which led to an unconverted try in the corner.

On 24 minutes the home side’s forwards bullocked their way through Braintree’s defence with a series of pick and drive moves which took them all the way to the line for a converted try.

And on 28 minutes another successful catch and drive move from a line-out led to a third try which was successfully converted to level the scores at 19-19.

The second half was a much tighter and altogether more nervy affair and it was Maldon who got in the driving seat, slotting home a 50th minute penalty to take a slender 22-19 lead.

The home side then launched a sustained attack on Braintree’s lines but the visitors dug deep and managed to repel their attacks.

When they eventually emerged on to the front foot they were awarded a penalty which Joslin kicked to level the scores at 22-22.

And three minutes later, Joslin’s superb long range strike sailed over to clinch victory after he opted to kick for the posts rather than territorial advantage when Braintree were awarded a 78th minute penalty.

BRUFC: Whyatt, J Young, Adams, Joslin, Abbott, Willis, Page (Dawson), Aldridge, Kerr (Shipton), Halford, Johnson, Fitzearle, Turner (Benfield), Carslake, Spearman.