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!

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