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Depleted Maidenhead RFC face test of strength in depth at Newton Abbot

Maidenhead face probably their biggest challenge of their South West Premier campaign when they head to second-placed Newton Abbot on Saturday with a team shorn of key first choice players.

Powerful front row brothers Mark and Andy Darlington, crucial back row players Ryan Long and Will Macaulay, plus wingers Jarryd Robinson and George Blewett are expected to miss the clash against a side which has won eight of their nine starts and are undefeated at their Rackerhayes home.

Maids, who come into the match off a more accomplished performance in beating Brixham 50-30, have one away success to their name, but are yet to win a match on grass this season.

Maids’ head coach Russell Bolton knows Saturday’s match will be difficult but says the head-to-head could be a free swing for his side.

“It’s one of those games going into it knowing we will be short of a few players,” he said.

“However, constantly guys are coming into the team, stepping up and performing to a standard.

“For me, it’s one we can go to fairly relaxed. It’s one of those that, if we go there and get a win then fantastic. If we go there, put in a good performance and get a couple of bonus points at one of furthest trips we have this year, then that will also be a positive for us.”

He added: “It might be one we look at – without the Darlingtons, Longy, Macaulay, Jarryd and George – as an opportunity for others to step up and see what they can do.

“But we also might go there and surprise them. “

Skipper Myke Parrott was also keen to underscore the strength in depth Maids currently enjoy.

Speaking on Saturday, he said “Look at our 2nds today; Jack Hill at No.9, young Ellis at No,10, Sammy A (Sam Angell) at No.12, class players in there.

“They are top of the league which shows our strength.

“But we'll need it next week and the weeks after. The boys in the 2nds can step up now.”

Maids will face a Newton Abbot side, led by head coach and second row Colin Stewart, whose only defeat was away to leaders Dings Crusaders 43-22 but who, like Maids, do concede points.

In their wins over Camborne, Cleve, Exmouth, Ivybridge and, on Saturday, Hornets, they have conceded an average of more than 32 points per game.

Maids are the fourth highest points scorers in the division, but also have the second poorest defensive record.

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