03:45PM, Thursday 03 January 2019
Russell Bolton admits Maidenhead RFC are going into this Saturday’s game at Cleve ‘a little bit blind’ with regards to the condition of the players after Christmas and New Year.
Usually Maids would have two training sessions ahead of matches, but they’ll have to make this weekend’s selection based solely on tonight’s (Thursday) efforts.
Bolton took the difficult decision to rest some of his key players for Maids' final game of 2018, a gritty 25-24 win over Camborne played in dreadful conditions at Braywick Park.
Some of those were handed a much-needed rest, such as captain Myke Parrott, who had played more than 100 consecutive games for the club and was struggling to produce his best due to injury and fatigue. However, others were forced to sit on the sidelines – or turn out for the seconds – because of their failure to make themselves available week in and week out for the club.
Bolton believes Maids are as good, if not better, than most sides in the division, but acknowledges they’ll need better commitment from key players to chase down Ivybridge and Barnstaple for second place. Bournemouth RFC – beaten by Maids before Christmas – look set to run away with the title.
“In the last game we made the tough decision to rest some key players,” said Bolton. “But it will mean they’ve had three or four weeks without contact so hopefully they’ll come back at full tilt.
“With Myke it was difficult because he’s played over 100 consecutive games for the club, but I think he knows he wasn’t at his best and we need our key players to be at their best.
“Availability for Saturday is looking healthy. There will be a mix of rewarding the players who did well for us against Camborne and bringing in some of the players who we rested.
“Unfortunately yesterday (Tuesday) was New Year’s Day so we’ll only have one training session this week ahead of Cleve. We’ll be going into it a little bit blind in terms of the condition of the guys, but we’ll get some running in their legs and I’m sure they’ll be up for it.”
Maids’ away form this season has improved, with the team having already matched the number of away wins they collected last season.
“We got a gritty home win against Camborne before Christmas,” said Bolton. “And we’re looking to build some momentum from that.
“We definitely feel that our away form has improved and we’ve been competitive in most of our away games. Going away from home doesn’t hold the same fear for us as perhaps it used to. We’ve got a strong squad and players can’t assume they’ll just walk back in if they miss a game. It should be tough to get your spot back.”
Cleve were narrowly beaten 18-14 at Ivybridge in their last fixture before Christmas. They’re 11th in table.
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