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Blues head into decision time - part 2

Newbury look to break their Witney duck

Malcolm Howe



Blues head into decision time - part 2

Blues celebrate downing leaders Maidenhead last week

NEWBURY BLUES will be throwing aside any thoughts of it being ‘job done’ after their downing of league
leaders Maidenhead last week as they find the obstacles mounting up thick and fast.
Saturday’s opponents Witney dealt Blues their biggest beating of the season at their Hailey Road ground, and a side that makes a habit of embarking on winning runs at this stage of the campaign may be primed to do just that.
They were on a four-match streak before going to Royal Wootton Basset on Saturday, who were ready to take over top spot if Blues did them a favour, but instead were themselves toppled as Witney scored an ultimately comfortable 33-17 win.
“We’re thinking have they found a vein of form,” said Blues head coach Lee Goodall, “It just shows that any team in this league can beat any team on its day.
“We’ve just beaten the table-toppers,” he added, “but let’s have a look at our next three games and it’s Witney away, Old Centralians away and Patesians at home, so it’s really part two of our destiny.
“We certainly have equally hard tasks to come in the next month and we only have two home games before Christmas.”
Blues have yet to win at Witney and last season’s 31-8 reverse prompted successive away losses at Oxford Harlequins and Maidenhead before Blues hit their lengthy unbeaten streak that took them to the edge of a promotion shot.
“A team that sticks a run of six wins together will potentially be themselves top of this league,” said Goodall. But we are pretty much susceptible to losing to any team on their day and it would be silly if we didn’t think that way.
“But we’re reasonably confident in our away form at the moment, something which was a bit of an Achilles heel last season but this season we seem to be performing away as well as at home.”
That could be aided on Saturday by Blues’ level of support for the 2.30pm kick-off. Witney were lamenting the fact that they took only six supporters with them to Wootton Bassett, while Blues can often motivate three-figure support to follow them on the road.
“We’re expecting a big Newbury contingent going there,” said Goodall. “I don’t think we’ve ever won there and there’s that cloud over Witney from last year’s result.
“But we’re not looking back and we’re gunning for a win and looking to go out and continue the good work we’ve done.”
Blues have sent support to Maidenhead’s Alex Cannon, who sustained a fractured and
dislocated ankle last week, only two days after Blues Jake Richardson suffered a similar and freak injury in training when he was due to line-up in that match.
“It’s a season-ender,” sad Goodall, who will also be without knee injury victim Chris Guyatt, possibly until Christmas, and back row Alex Millar for this week. Centre Iain Herriott also bid farewell last week with a man of the match display before moving to America, but Ollie Spanswick and Ryan Mason return, the latter subject to county RFU clearance after serving a club suspension following his red card at Grove.

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