Thu, 26 Oct 2017
Josh Bartlett - back in the reckoning
NEWBURY BLUES expect a big crowd for Saturday's Berkshire derby with Maidenhead at Monks Lane in a clash of the two teams that made their way up from South West One East last season.
They are also hoping that home crowd and the turf will be the keys to winning against third-placed side, all of whose wins this season have come on artificial surfaces.
But Maidenhead's players have plenty of experience of the real green stuff, and coach Russell Bolton added carefully to the side that got away for Blues and the rest to win the title last term, leaving Blues to mop up the play-off place.
He brought in Chinnor centre Sam Angell and front row brothers Andy and Mark Darlington, both Dutch internationals.
"We know they are strong up front and recruited well in that area over the summer," said Blues' head coach Lee Goodall, "and they will come down and want to apply pressure on us in the set piece, and they also have some good playmakers in the backs.
“But they will want to lift that ‘bogey’ on their backs in not winning on grass and this is potentially our toughest test of the season and we shall have to be on full concentration."
Blues have an injury doubt over second row Kyle Doel after he picked up an ankle injury at Camborne last week, and they will also still be without centre Rhys Davis. But Josh Bartlett and Jamie Futcher return to add to the backs strength.