With a quarter of the season now gone, last week’s bonus point, 27-10 victory away at Weston-Super-Mare, propelled Maidenhead to 3rd position in the SW Premier table, sitting behind only Dings Crusaders and Newton Abbott. It’s been an enjoyable, challenging and educating start to life in the new division, but tomorrow we face off against old SW1 East friends, Newbury Blues, who were promoted via the playoffs to join Maids at level 5.
No doubt, the Berkshire rivals were the two standout teams last season, in a tough division, and the clashes between the sides were full of drama, excitement, ecstasy and agony, which saw them win one match apiece. New additions to the Blues squad this season include Adam Neal, from Oxford Quins and Rhys Davies from Windsor, whilst fly-half Richard West and back-row Finn Russell have both returned to the club after spells away.
Newbury will be satisfied with their start this season, sitting in 8th position after a brilliant opening day win away at Bournemouth, followed by home successes against Lydney and Hornets. They boast the meanest defence in the league, with just 105 points conceded, and enter the game after a close loss away at Camborne, which by all accounts, they could have nicked.
Maids will be enthused after their first away victory of the campaign a week ago, in which the first half saw them play arguably their best rugby of the season, starving Hornets of the ball for long periods, often reaching 10+ phases in attack. One of the players singled out for praise in the match, was hooker Mark Darlington, who we spoke to this week, to ask some deep and meaningful questions of…
*Name/nicknames- “Mark James Darlington”, “Darlo”, “Dark Marlington”, “Darlo no1”, “Skinny Sam Angell”, “Dutch Dave”.
*Position(s)- Hooker, prop, fly half. I play for Holland.
*Occupation- Market Research Recruiter/Andrew Darlington’s Guardian Angel/Dutch rugby legend.
*Which Maids teammate would you least like to be stuck on a desert island with, and why? Sam Hallett- I have seen the way he smashes up the bus on away games; what chance would we have with our shelter or makeshift raft.
* Which Maids teammate would you most like to be stuck on a desert island with, and why? Ryan Long; I feel his can-do attitude, positive energy and general all round happy approach to life would get me through some tough times on the island.
*What’s your favourite TV Programme? I mainly like watching videos of my games playing for Holland.
*What hobbies do you have outside of rugby? Mainly caring for my brother Andrew- helping him get dressed, brushing his teeth etc, and also monitoring Sam Angell’s sausage roll intake.
*If you could be any animal, what would you be and why? A bear. I’d roam around slowly, eating and hibernating- it’s pretty much what I do now.
*What would you like to achieve this season, both personally, and as a team? Finish top half of the table, keep improving and play for Holland. Did I mention I’m a Dutch International?
Tom King sadly misses out this week- knocking himself out whilst banging his head against the changing room wall last week, psyching himself up, whilst Jaryd Robinson still hasn’t finished drinking his initiation wine, so is sat on the coach next to Jockstrap John in his pants until it’s gone. Lewis ‘Pumba’ Jones celebrates his favourite day of the year today- the grand release of the Marks and Spencer’s Xmas sandwich, so Russell Bolton will be hoping he recovers in time for kick off. It’s also a big weekend for Max Roddick, who has a birthday party at Cheeky Charlie’s tomorrow, followed by trick or treating with Uncle Churchy on Monday night. Christoph Bart eagerly awaits the release of the Halloween Party guest list, composed by Ellie Birch, and will hope the menu provides plenty of novel options for the night, though ‘Mandingo Ali’ the physio, is likely to provide ‘stiff’ competition.
1. M Parrott (c)
2. M Darlington
3. A Darlington
4. S Hallett
5. M Grimshaw
6. L Leonard
7. W Macaulay
8. D Cole
9. M Childerhouse
10. P Jansen
11. R Lewis
12. E Keohane
13. R Long
14. S Prince
15. W Runciman
16. L Jones
17. J Lavin
18. G Blewitt
Come on you Maids!