09:00AM, Friday 09 March 2018
Maidenhead’s ambitious plans to win back-to-back promotions could be binned if they lose to Newton Abbot on Saturday, although Russell Bolton believes it’s not that clear cut.
Maids are currently fourth in the South West Premier, three points behind both second-placed Bournemouth and Newton Abbot in third.
Defeat – a second in succession at Braywick following their 55-22 loss to Newbury which brought the curtain down on their 31-match unbeaten run at home – would leave them at least six points adrift of the All Whites from Devon with five matches remaining.
Maids’ head coach accepts that losing would make finishing second in the league difficult, but not impossible.
“If we lose it doesn’t mean we won’t finish second,” Bolton said.
“I don’t think it’s that black and white.
“But there is no doubt that if we want to come second we can’t lose back-to-back games at home. Newton Abbot still have to go to Bournemouth, as do we, so there will be plenty to play for whatever the result on Saturday.”
Asked whether the players had moved on from the inglorious rout by Newbury three weeks ago, Bolton added: “I’m not sure I want the Newbury defeat to be completely forgotten.
“It’s not a bad thing if it is in the back of players’ minds as a learning experience, as something we don’t want seen repeated.”
Maids’ match at Brixham on Saturday was postponed because of the Arctic-like conditions, but Bolton says his side are ‘in good shape’ for the tussle with Newton Abbot.
“I’m looking forward to the game. For me it feels like we haven’t played in ages because there was no game last weekend and I wasn’t at the Ivybridge match,” he said.
“We are looking good, shaping up well.
“Will Cadden and Tom King are long-term injured and we are without Will Runciman, but we have options. We have choices to make at fly-half and No.12, depending on how we want to play.”
He added: “The forwards take care of themselves and will be similar to those who were due to go to Brix- ham, but with the addition of the Darlington brothers who are back from international duty (with the Netherlands).”
Maids lost 63-28 at Newton Abbot in November, a match which produced a glut of tries, but one which Bolton believes will have little bearing on Saturday's clash.
He said: “We went down there with poor availability, certainly poorer than it had been up to that point. It was
a mixed team, but the guys stood up well especially in the first half.
“But Newton Abbot are a patient side and took their chances well in the second period.
“Former Exeter player Matt Jess (Abbot's player/coach) was crucial to them, but I know he has been injured, so am not sure if he will play against us.”
The match kicks off at 3pm on Saturday.
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