MATCH PREVIEW – MAIDENHEAD V WITNEY (AWAY)

MATCH PREVIEW – MAIDENHEAD V WITNEY (AWAY)

Maidenhead travel to Oxfordshire neighbours Witney this week, hoping for a repeat of their 14-8 success, secured earlier in the season. Witney sit one position, and 6 points above Maids in 4th, so the match promises to be a close affair, as so often this fixture is.

Maids will be keen to arrest a frustrating pattern of wins at home, followed by an away loss, while the Oxon side want to bounce back from a close defeat away at Towcester a week ago. Witney have been on an impressive run of form since their defeat at Braywick in October, which has seen them beat high flying Salisbury, Oxford Quins, Windsor amongst others.

The Witney pack, featuring props Alan Richens and Robbie Richardson provide a solid foundation, for a quick, strong back line, marshalled by Henry Lamb, with centre Matt Clarke one to watch. Recent reports suggest the Maidenhead front row will be in for a tough afternoon, against an extremely impressive scrummaging unit. No doubt, the influence of former Maids 1st XV captain, Richie Craig (pictured above) has been a positive one in that department. We catch up with the Scotsman this week, to gather his thoughts ahead of the clash:

-you guys are flying this year- have you exceeded pre-season expectations?

“In a lot of respects we have exceeded expectations but in some we have not. The last two years we have finished 4th and 5th respectively. We felt we had a good team spirit within the club and with a few additions we could better these finishes. With that in mind though, we have also had a major upheaval within our squad. Our skipper, Jez Hicks was forced to retire due to shoulder issues as has our number 8, Joe Rowles(ankle). We have also had several other senior players having to lessen their commitment due to personnel reasons; Carl Strutt, James Monks and Henry Lamb to name a few.”

-in your opinion, what do you boys need to do, to achieve promotion in the next few seasons?

“To achieve promotion in the next few years we need to add more depth to our squad and continue to develop. We now have a system which we all understand and buy into. This can now be built on to create different problems for our opposition. The 2nd XV are playing some outstanding rugby with players able to step up and fit in seamlessly. The development of a strong 1st XV can only be sustained with the backing of a strong 2nd XV and Colts team. We have used several new colts this year who are 17 or 18 years old. These players have stepped up and shown they deserve to be there.”

-what do you expect from the match on Saturday?

“Saturday’s match will be a difficult encounter as all the games in this league are. The top 6 seem to be very well matched and anyone can win on their day. We will be hoping to pose enough problems for the Maidenhead team in both attack and defence that will allow us to come away with a win. We know Maidenhead always come with an added incentive when visiting Witney and the games for the last 2 years have been fiercely competitive. Having said that both teams and clubs seem to have a mutual respect and shared values which have allowed me to feel very much part of both these clubs.”

 

Maidenhead flyer Jaryd Robinson is away this week, watering Perry Jansen’s plants, whilst Tom Simpson is escorting his cat to the hairdressers. Tom Finnie returns to the starting lineup this Saturday, and it is hoped that Frankie O’Keeffe makes a full recovery from food poisoning, acquired from a fried dog pancake.

Maidenhead team:

1/ Parrott (c), 2/ Jones, 3/ Britton, 4/ Churchyard, 5/ Emannuel, 6/ White, 7/ Muil, 8/ Long, 9/ Childerhouse, 10/ Jansen, 11/ Abiven, 12/ Heron, 13/ Bart, 14/ O’Keeffe, 15/ Finnie, 16/ Rawlings, 17/ Cadden, 18/ Skelton

The Witney team was unavailable at time of write up.

Come on you Maids!

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MATCH PREVIEW – MAIDENHEAD V LEIGHTON BUZZARD (HOME)

MATCH PREVIEW – MAIDENHEAD V LEIGHTON BUZZARD (HOME)

Maids welcome Leighton Buzzard to the bowl this week, anticipating a tough challenge from a big, physical Buzzard side. Maidenhead were victors in their clash earlier in the season, triumphing 24-15 in one of their most impressive results so far. However, Buzzard are fielding a much-changed team from their defeat that day, and include skipper Euan Irwin in their line up, who takes the 13 shirt.

Despite losing their last 2 matches, Buzzard have been within 8 and 6 points respectively of Towcestrians and Oxford Quins, both of whom have put Maids to the sword this season, so we anticipate a very difficult game.

This week, we catch up with young winger Frankie O’Keeffe, who made his first team debut against Buzzard, back in October.

This is your first season playing senior rugby for Maids, how are you finding it?

‘I’m really enjoying my time playing senior rugby for Maids, it’s competitive, and we have a great bunch of lads, but most importantly, it’s enjoyable, and that’s what it’s all about; playing and having fun with your mates. Socials are pretty damn good too!

What do we need to do, to be challenging for the title in the next 2 or 3 years?

‘I think we need to be more clinical when we create chances. In the game against Salisbury last weekend, we created chances, but couldn’t convert them to points. Also, in the last 20 or so mins of the match, we let energy levels drop. If we can polish those things off, I believe we can win the league in the next 2-3 seasons.’

What do you want to see from the team tomorrow?

I would like to see energy levels high for the whole 80 mins. We need to be loud and aggressive in defence, and be clinical when we create chances. If we can do these things, I’m certain we will come away with the win.

Maidenhead welcome back Jaryd Robinson to the team this week, who replaces Tom Finnie, who is filming an episode of Bargain Hunters, while Ryan Long starts at 8, with James Emmanuel dropping to the bench, for refusing to do a birdbath on the coach last week.

Maidenhead team:

1/ Parrott (c), 2/ Jones, 3/ Britton, 4/ Churchyard, 5/ White, 6/ Cadden, 7/ Muil, 8/ Long, 9/ Childerhouse, 10/ Jansen, 11/ O’Keeffe, 12/ Heron, 13/ Bart, 14/ Abiven, 15/ Robinson, 16/ Rawlings, 17/ Emmanuel, 18/ Munn

Buzzard team:

1/ Lynch, 2/ Greenway, 3/Davey, 4/ Taylor, 5/ Tift, 6/ Graydon, 7/ TBC, 8/ Richbell, 9/ Ward, 10/ David, 11/ Beaumont, 12/ Robert, 13/ Irwin (c), 14/ Taylor, 15/ Walker, 16/ Walsh, 17/ Fraser, 18/ Whitehouse

Come on you Maids!

Match Preview – Maidenhead v Salisbury (Away)

Match Preview – Maidenhead v Salisbury (Away)

Maidenhead follow up the sumptuous 50 point victory over Grove last week, with a trip to high-flying Salisbury. The Wiltshire-based side held Maids to a 11-11 draw in the return fixture, late September at Braywick, and the newly-promoted side have quickly settled in to life in SW1, embarking on an impressive run, which sees them in second place, with only 2 losses since the draw at Maids.

Led by Liam Gilbert at 8, Salisbury are a well-drilled unit, with a very strong defence. They have good lineout operators, and in likely poor conditions this Saturday, no doubt the set piece will be a key area for Maidenhead to target. Salisbury enter the match, off the back of a disappointing 29-14  loss, 7 days earlier against Towcestrians, who now occupy an 8 point lead at the top.

Maidenhead will be buoyed by the return of the outstanding Ryan Long, who has opted to rejoin the club, after spells with Henley and Chinnor in Nat 1 and Nat 2 respectively. This week, we caught up with the new signing, who expressed his excitement at ‘coming home’.

-it’s great to have you back at Maids- what has made you return to Braywick?

I had got to a stage in my career where I had stopped enjoying rugby. At this point I decided to take a month out of rugby to decide what I wanted to do, during which time I attended a couple of sessions at Maidenhead. Having thoroughly enjoyed the sessions I attended, it became very clear to me that a move back to Braywick would reignite the love I had recently lost for the game. I think it’s important to add that what makes Maidenhead such a great place to play is not just the rugby sessions, it’s the atmosphere in the bar afterwards, the lively crowd at matches and also the amount of effort senior players put in to make new players feel welcome. I came to watch the final game of 2015 which saw Maidenhead end the year with a good victory against Trowbridge but what was even more impressive was the post-match events whereby all the current players were gathered in the Bonberry bar mingling with ex-players and old boys. That kind of atmosphere is something I believe is rarely seen at rugby clubs these days. It really is great to be back.

 

-where do you see the club going in the next few years?

In terms of the first team I think a permanent move into the national leagues is not far away. Although promotion may be out of reach for this season I think a top 4 finish is definitely an achievable target for us. From there we will be looking to continue to build the squad in preparation for a real promotion push next year. I believe if the squad keeps progressing as it is now and if we can stay together for the next few years then should we achieve our target of promotion, we will also have a squad good enough to compete in National 3.

Outside of this aim, as a senior squad we are also looking to grow by eventually being able to put out a 4th XV which will be a fantastic achievement for the club and will just demonstrate the growth of the club as a whole.

 

-what do you want to see from the players v Salisbury?

Physicality. If we want to leave Salisbury this weekend with a ‘W’ we will have to be physical in all aspects of the game. Traditionally Salisbury have a good back row and so I think the breakdown will also be a key area to try and get an edge. We have been doing a lot of breakdown work in training recently and so if we apply this on Saturday it can only benefit us.

Ryan Long goes straight into the match day squad, replacing Matt Burke, while Jaryd Robinson and Tom Stileman are away with work and university respectively. Frankie O’Keeffe returns to the team, after dogsitting over Xmas, while Seth Munn takes the bench spot. Paul Britton continues at tighthead, to face his former side.

Maids team to face Salisbury:

1/ Parrott (c), 2/ Jones, 3/ Britton, 4/ Emmanuel, 5/Greenergrass, 6/White, 7/ Cadden, 8/Muil, 9/Childerhouse, 10/ Jansen, 11/ O’Keeffe, 12/ Heron, 13/ Bart, 14/ Abiven, 15/ Finnie, 16/ Rawlings, 17/ Long, 18/ Munn

 

Match Preview – Maidenhead v Grove (Home)

Match Preview – Maidenhead v Grove (Home)

Maids welcome Oxfordshire-based Grove to the Braywick Bowl this week, hoping to erase the memory of a dismal outing 7 days earlier against rock-bottom Swanage and Wareham, who recorded just their 2nd win of the campaign, 19-17.

Grove will be looking to avenge their narrow loss to Maids earlier in the season, when a last minute Mike Martin penalty was fluffed, to condemn them to a 20-18 defeat. It looked as though Grove would be competing in the top half of the table this year, when they started like a train, smashing local rivals Oxford Quins 39-12. They also recorded an impressive 48-28 victory over Windsor, before Xmas. However, an injury to the excellent Mike Martin in November, compounded by further injuries and unavailability has seen Grove slip down the table, and they arrive at Braywick on a dismal run of form, which has seen 5 consecutive losses.

This week, we speak with newly loved-up James Emmanuel, who has picked up two awards in the previous 7 days- both ‘puss of the week’, and ‘player of the month’.

-having already played Grove once this season, what are you expecting from them tomorrow?

Grove have always been big and physical upfront and our last meeting was no exception. I expect they’ll carry through their sizeable forwards and try and get us on the back foot as they did at their place. If we put in a defensive performance like we did against Newbury we should be able to snuff this out and force mistakes. Although the result was close at Grove, I feel we have come a long way since and really begun to gel as a squad. We need to put in a performance that shows this on Saturday.

-what happened last Saturday?

Last Saturday was very disappointing, we tried to force things too much in attack leading to mistakes and defensively, just weren’t our usual selves. I think we need to draw a line under it, work hard at training this week and get the W against Grove Saturday.

-how do you see the rest of the season panning out?

We need to return to the form we started the season with and get back to winning ways. It’s been a very enjoyable season so far with new faces both on and off the pitch joining and a few old faces returning. For the first time in a while we have a great deal of strength, depth and competition for positions in the squad, which I think is great. I’d love to see us put things right against Windsor, Towcestrians and Swindon when they come to Braywick. I feel we were far from our best when we faced these sides in the first half of the season.

Making his debut for Maids this week, is Jaryd Robinson, who replaces Tom Simpson on the wing, while Christoph Bart and Jon Heron both return to the centres after New Year exploits. Phil White returns to the 6 shirt, and we also welcome back to the bench, Mathieu Abiven, who was away watching ‘World’s Strongest Man’,

Maids to team to face Grove-

1/ Parrott (c), 2/ Jones, 3/ Britton, 4/ Churchyard, 5/ Emmanuel, 6/ White, 7/ Cadden, 8/ Muil,         9/ Childerhouse, 10/ Jansen, 11/ Stileman, 12/ Heron, 13/ Bart, 14/ Robinson, 15/ Finnie,                16/ Rawlings, 17/ Burke, 18/ Abiven

Come on you Maids!