COVID cases make it a real challenge for Maids against Dorking

Taking on the league leaders Dorking immediately after the Christmas and New Year break was always likely to be challenging for Maidenhead RFC, throw in seven key players missing due to COVID and you have a recipe for disaster.

Maids travelled to Dorking knowing they’d have their work cut out and, while they weren’t humiliated in their first game in four weeks, the home side ran out comfortable 42-0 winners.

Maids are extremely hopeful they can have a better second half of the season, but results have yet to match improved performances on the field and they’ve failed to score in either of their last two matches, the 43-0 defeat to Sevenoaks on December 11 and Saturday’s 42-0 loss at Dorking.

Despite this Maids’ director of rugby, Myke Parrott, was able to take positives from the effort shown by an inexperienced side.

“We were away from home, it was our first game after a month, first game after the Christmas break at the league leaders, and we had seven out with COVID,” said Parrott.

“But it is what it is, and I think our youngsters fronted up brilliantly well. What Dorking did exceptionally was play off their set piece. That’s where they really dominated on Saturday.

“It yielded six converted tries which is no doubt where the game was won for them and lost for us.

“But there were some really big positives to come out of the game. There was no lack of effort out there and, apart from the set piece, we played some good stuff.

“Our shapes were good; our attacking intent was good. “Sometimes you just come up against a really good pack and when conditions are tough underfoot, you get drilled. We felt we deserved a try at least for our efforts.”

Maids remain entrenched in the lower reaches of the London & South East Premier Division. They go into Saturday’s home game with Tring in 12th place, just a point above Tunbridge & Wells but eight clear of bottom placed CS Stags 1863. However, with the threat of relegation having been lifted this season due to continued uncertainty over lockdown restrictions and COVID-19, Parrott says the squad can focus on learning lessons from these defeats, rather than simply worrying about getting points on the board. It also means they’ll continue to blood young players and give them the experience they need to come back battle-hardened for future campaigns.

“The message before the game, and it’s a similar message for most of these games, is that I don’t really care about the result,” he said. “Honestly, I don’t. I’m looking for the lads to give me 100 per cent effort, individual performances, and for them to have improved on the previous week.

“I said it at half-time and after the game, there was nobody out there against Dorking that wasn’t trying. That’s brilliant considering I’ve got a squad of young lads, with some older heads in there of course.

“I really care about the team, and the club. They put their bodies on the line every week and I will continue to be proud of them. They might have come second on Saturday, but they will learn plenty and take plenty from that.” Parrott added: “It will be good to be back at home this weekend. We will have a couple of new lads in, we’ve got a couple of new signings who will be playing. Similarly, we will have a couple of players out and I’m sure more will test positive between now and then.

“But we will give it a good crack. Our games against Tring are always close and always competitive. They are a similar club to us; they rely on their youth system.

“They’ve got ex-Maids coach Russ Bolton there as well. I just hope it’s a good game and I hope we perform. To get the win would be a bonus.”

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