08:37PM, Saturday 08 April 2017
An emotional Russell Bolton praised the club's players and backroom staff for their season's commitment after Maidenhead's 38-19 victory at Reading Abbey secured them the South West 1 East title.
The match, in which Maids' performance was below par for the second successive week, saw the visitors score three tries in each half after starting each period on the back foot.
Maids' tries came from Ross Muil, Mark Childerhouse, Ed Keohane and Tom Finnie, who grabbed a hat-trick as well as four successful conversions.
Reading Abbey, who scored three tries and dominated possession and territory for large periods, are relegated to Southern Counties North one year after gaining promotion.
Bolton, the former head coach at Reading Abbey, was delighted with his team's success although was clearly disappointed for his former side.
"I don't really know how to respond. It's a a bit surreal doing it here, really," he said, standing in the middle of the pitch at Rose Hill after the match.
"It's a mega achievement for the club and the boys.
"When I arrived at the club, we had a three-year plan to get back to Nat 3 (National 3 South West) and we've done it in two which is incredible, and the boys have to take a great deal of credit for that.
"And people around the club as well. We all know (Will) Greenwood has been amazing for us, but there are other people behind the scenes like Gareth Andrews-Jones, Mark Bates, Steve Bough, Tony Brooks and others."
However, just minutes after the final whistle, Bolton was prepared to look ahead to life in the division above next season.
Wary of Maids' poor record when having reached level six in recent years, he was cautious but ambitious.
"I want us to finish mid-table next season," he said.
"There's a lot of things we want to do but are well aware of the a big jump up.
"But we have players who have played at that level before, we have more strength in depth in the club, and have more players training than ever before.
"We have good people putting plans in place now."
He added: "But we don't want to lose the soul of the club we have created.
"It's still got to be fun and enjoyable."
Former World Cup winner Will Greenwood, who has been assisting Bolton at Maids for the passed two seasons, was equally full of praise for the players and hope for the future.
He said: "We set ourselves a target to win the league, a few people raised their eyebrows, but we put a plan in place.
"The coaching has been fantastic, yes we have had a few guests come in, but Eddie Jones didn't make a tackle today, Paul Gustard didn't get over a ball at a breakdown, Alex Goode didn't counter-attack."
He added, pointing at the Maids players now enjoying a drink in the late afternoon sun: "These lads have done it. Themselves.
"It's a genuine privilege, honour and a joy to be on a training ground with them."
"I know sometimes I irritate them, I know sometimes I'm in their faces demanding professional standards, but when they get in a huddle and it says champions on a banner under them and #bleedmagenta, it starts to dawn on them what they can achieve, if a small group of people commit to do something special."
Maids complete their league campaign at home to Royal Wootton Bassett on Saturday, April 22.
South West 1 East results:
Old Patesians 60, Witney 10
Oxford Harlequins 48, Old Centralians 34
Reading 5, Newbury Blues 78
Reading Abbey 19, Maidenhead 38
Royal Wootton Bassett 24, Grove 5
Swindon 35, Chippenham 29
Windsor 36, Banbury 7
South West 1 East table:
01, Maidenhead.......P25, Pts 108
02, Newbury.............P25, Pts 100
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
03, Old Patesians....P25, Pts 96
04, Witney................P25, Pts 67
05, Old Centralians..P25, Pts 67
06, Banbury..............P25, Pts, 58
07, RW Bassett.........P25, Pts 55
08, Swindon..............P25, Pts 55
09, Grove..................P25, Pts 54
10, Oxford Harl..........P25, Pts 53
11, Chippenham........P25, Pts 52
12, Windsor...............P25, Pts 51
13, Reading Abbey....P25, Pts 45
14, Reading...............P25, Pts 20
South West 1 East fixtures (Apr 22):
Banbury v Witney
Chippenham v Windsor
Grove v Swindon
Maidenhead v RW Bassett
Newbury v Reading Abbey
Old Centralians v Reading
Old Patesians v Oxford Harlequins
Windsor have given themselves a lifeline, and set up a winner-takes-all clash in two weeks' time, after they impressively beat Banbury 36-7 at Home Park.
Second-bottom Windsor had to win to keep their hopes of survival in South West 1 East alive, which is what they did.
The side, who are now third from bottom, are away to Chippenham on Saturday, April 22 - the team one place and one point above them in the table.
The likelihood is that Windsor will need to win that match to beat the drop.
They would also stay up if they were to lose but earn two bonus points and Oxford Harlequins were to be beaten by promotion-chasing Old Patesians.
Marlow are champions of Southern Counties North after a thumping 74-7 victory over relegated Bletchley.
After their crucial win over second-placed Bicester last week, Marlow needed only two points from their final two matches to secure top spot, but did it in style by thrashing Bletchley.
Marlow will play next season in South West 1 East, three years after being relegated.
They complete their season on Saturday, April 22 away to Buckingham.
A 71-14 mauling of Tadley, underscored Drifters' memorable campaign in the BB&O Premier Division which saw them clinch promotion two weeks ago.
Drifters ran in 11 tries today including a hat-trick from Rob Wills.
They play their final match at home to Hungerford on Saturday, April 22.
Slough slipped back to fourth in the BB&O Premier Division after losing by just 11 points at home to champions Swindon College Old Boys.
The Greenies went down 33-22 at Tamblyn Fields against a side they lost to 82-7 in December.
Slough's season finale is in two weeks at Chesham
Phoenix lost 24-18 at home to Crowthorne in the BB&O Premier Division.
However, they are now off bottom place, and probably safe from relegation, after rivals Risborough were docked five points for not fielding a team last week and then went on to lose 48-17 at home to today.
Phoenix, who are one point ahead of Risborough, are away to Didcot in the final match on Saturday, April 22, while Risborough are at Crowthorne.
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