03:19PM, Thursday 19 December 2019
Maidenhead RFC captain Myke Parrott admits he would have bitten your hand off to be in second place heading into the Christmas period, but that doesn’t mean he and his teammates aren’t hungry for more as they look to chase down leaders Barnstaple this weekend.
Victory over Exeter University on Saturday could conceivably send David Mobbs-Smith’s side top of the tree for Christmas and, with a favourable fixture list to look forward to in the new year, Parrott’s not ruling out a title challenge.
Last weekend Maids got back to their brilliant best on home turf, running in seven tries to one in a 46-7 victory over Camborne. Scott Prince and Ben Mitchell both helped themselves to a couple of tries and victory this Saturday, combined with defeat for Barnstaple at Bracknell could see Maids finish the year as top dogs in the South West Premier.
“If we win on Saturday we could be top for Christmas,” he said. “But if someone said that we’d be second we’d also have bitten their hands off. That would be an improvement on last season, and, to improve on your position with a new head coach, new systems and new players would be a real achievement.
"Do we want more? Yes, of course. There’s nothing quite like winning a league and getting promoted. The parties we had when we did it last time live long in the memory and there are not many opportunities to win a league so, yeah, we’d love to do it. But we’re not thinking about that at the moment. We’re just trying to stay in the hunt and the return of a couple of players after Christmas should boost us.”
Saturday’s game at Exeter Uni revives memories of a thrilling 45-43 victory for Maids at the start of the season. Conditions will probably dictate that this weekend’s game isn’t quite so open, but Parrott still believes the two sides could produce another cracker.
He said: “I would imagine we’ll be playing on their 3G pitch because it’s due to rain this week. Both sides will fancy it, they’ll want to throw the ball around, but, if we can get scrum dominance it should be a cracking game.
“Playing them at home this season was the worst time to play them because their Bucks League campaign hadn’t started yet. Their strongest side is one of the best in the country. But, fortunately for us I’m led to believe that a lot of their students will have returned home for Christmas. That said I’m sure it will be a strong side whatever and we’ll be missing a few as well because people have commitments at this time of the year.
“Our last game against them was a hell of a game. They scored 43 points but we won and got five points so I wasn’t worried too about that. I reckon any team in the league that day would have leaked that amount of points on that surface to that side.”
Last weekend’s postponement of Weston-super-Mare’s game against Barnstaple enabled Maids to rise back up to second and Parrott says it could yet be a small, but significant, boost to his side’s promotion hopes.
“Barnstaple have now got to go to Bracknell and I wouldn’t want to be going there just before Christmas,” he said.
“It’s a long trip for them and are they going to have everyone available? Who knows what might happen. If we beat Exeter we could go top for Christmas with Barnstaple still to come to us next year.
“So it’s tight. You take nothing for granted. The Weston/Barnstaple game will be replayed on January 25, which is a free week. That’s an advantage to us because it means Barnstaple won’t have a break. They then have to go to Exeter University so that’s two very tough games in a row. It’s such a close league. We’ve just got to stay in the hunt.”
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