08:00AM, Friday 26 November 2021
Huge strides have been made by Maidenhead RFC in recent weeks, but results are not keeping up with the positive performances, according to the club's director of rugby Myke Parrott.
In spells Maidenhead have played very well in their most recent defeats to Sidcup (24-20) and Havant (26-12) and, had they perhaps made a stronger start in both of those matches, the club could have been celebrating two hard-fought victories.
However, while they're beginning to get to grips with the pace and tempo of rugby in the London & South East Premier Division, they've still only managed to grind out two victories from their opening 10 matches and Parrott and head coach David Mobbs-Smith will be desperately hoping that doesn't continue to be the trend heading into the second half of the season.
They travel to Brighton on Saturday to take on a team who've been improving themselves in recent weeks - another unfortunate trend in Maids' season - and a couple of knocks in training this week means the club are travelling to the South Coast in not quite as good shape as they'd hoped to be.
“Yeah, the positive side is we feel we're better than our league position suggests.
“There are at least two or three games that we came out on the wrong side of when we feel we should have won. That's a positive because the performances have been good enough to get a few more points.
“But then we must look at ourselves and say, have we been a bit tactically naive, and yes, we probably have been, especially in the game against Sidcup.
“It was a good second half performance, but we should have been 20 points clear in my opinion. In the first half we didn't execute the game plan that we set out and, unfortunately that's been a repeating pattern. It happened at Havant the week before, where it took us until half-time to wake up and take on board the instruction that was given to the side.
“But that's going to come with a young side. If you look at the cap numbers we put out each week, there are a lot of single numbers there, a lot of lads who are just breaking through to the first team. They're brilliant lads and they're doing their best, but they are going to make mistakes and that's what we've got to be prepared to swallow, which we are, and they will benefit greatly from this experience, and it will put us in good stead.”
Maids have been guilty of giving away too many cheap scores in their games this season, something which has continued despite their recent defensive improvements, and Parrott feels that is letting teams off the hook when a more ruthless side would have kept the pressure on.
“It's learning to not allow sides back into games,” he said. “We let them score early, or score early after half-time, or we give away cheap pens or a cheap opportunity, or they get an intercept, and it allows sides to get straight back into it without working too hard, and that's been a consistent theme which we're trying our best to stamp out.
“But we're also not a million miles away and we also feel our fitness has caught up which is great. We are struggling with injuries and unavailability though, and it's killing us. Hopefully the lads are just getting socials out of the system. It's a learning curve for me as well. Ahead of the first league game I was confident in the quality and depth of the squad and, in a heartbeat, that squad gets decimated through injury, and we lost a few players as well. I'll make sure we don't make that mistake again.”
Parrott believes Brighton's form has picked up a little in recent weeks, despite the losing run they've been on.
Saturday's hosts have lost their last five matches but were edged out just 36-34 in a thrilling game at Tring two weeks ago.
“As is typically the way with our luck this season, they've picked up a little bit in their last couple of games,” he said. “They've had a couple of key players return and I think they may have had a change of coach as well, which is just our luck. I wish we could have played them three or four games ago.
“It was the same with Westcombe and Sidcup, but it is what it is. We picked up more injuries at training, which is tough to swallow, but we've just got to focus on our performances.”
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