Player availability and three weeks rest help Windsor rediscover best form

Player availability for Windsor RFC this season has been consistently inconsistent, a frustration borne out by their wildly unpredictable results.

However, when they do manage to get their best 15 and substitutes on the pitch, they can be a match for anyone, as proved by Saturday's 38-24 win over fifth-placed Trowbridge.

The Royals came into Saturday's game off the back of a four-game losing streak, having suffered a humiliating 80-7 home defeat to title contenders Oxford Harlequins in their last outing on March 5. However, having had three weeks rest, with matches postponed because of the weather and then COVID cases in the camp, the hosts looked fresher than their rivals as they spread play and ran in several early tries in the warm spring sunshine.

Trowbridge fought back in the second half and made a game of it, but captain Chris Emmett's men dug in for one of their best results of the season.

They'll now do their best to back it up at home to sixth-placed Witney on Saturday, and Emmett is confident they can produce a similar sort of display so long as availability is good once again.

“We finally managed to have a weekend where we had pretty good availability,” said Emmett.

“We had one of our best first team squads of the season and we played well in the dry conditions.

“We were 26-0 up inside the first 25 minutes which is fantastic. Trowbridge came back into it because they're a decent side who are fifth in the league, but we managed to score a couple of tries in the second half and probably left one or two more out there to be honest.

“It was a great day for the club, and we had amazing support for a great win. Hopefully we can build on that this weekend.”

The victory, only their sixth from 22 matches in a disappointing and challenging season, leaves Windsor 11th, just a point behind Sherborne who failed to raise a team for their match at Banbury on Saturday.

Windsor have also struggled with consistency of selection following the pandemic and they've also had leadership issues, with head coach Jack Pattinson stepping down from his role due to his increased work commitments as a coach with London Irish.

Despite this, Emmett would love for the Royals to finish the season strongly and carry some momentum into next season, where it's likely they'll be playing in a new division.

“We hope we'll be able to put out a very similar side against Witney on Saturday which, for this season at least, would be unheard of,” he said.

“I have a mate who plays for Sherborne, and they didn't play at the weekend because they couldn't get a squad out, and Sherborne are a very good, competitive team in this league.

“It's been difficult for all clubs and that's why it was pleasing at the weekend. Availability should be a bit better in the coming weeks, but it has been a frustrating season in that sense. If we can finish with one or two more wins it will be a nice way to finish and hopefully, we can build on that going into next season.

“Hopefully over the next few weeks we'll be able to finalise a new coach for next year when it will also be our centenary which we'll be marking with different events.

“Witney will be similar to Trowbridge. They've had some great results and some other results that just don't make sense. They've got a big old pack; it will be a big battle up front.

“But our pack was great at the weekend, we were on top in the scrum and lineout.

“And when we got the ball out wide, we managed to score some great tries so hopefully we’ll have another good weekend.”

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