Marlborough 24 – 5 Chippenham
Last Saturday, saw a local derby game between Marlborough and Chippenham, up on the Common. At the time of the game, Marlborough was one position above Chippenham in the Tribute South West 1 East league, so this was going to be an interesting game.
The weather was dull and gloomy up on the Common, but Marlborough’s spectators were optimistic after last week’s result that there was going to be more Christmas cheer for Marlborough.
As is currently the norm with the 1st XV, there were a few changes from the previous weeks winning team. Loose head prop, Ash Horner was back for this tussle and there was the new pairing of the two youngsters, Sam Bolton (18 years old) and Ben Wilmot in the second row. Siaosi Feamoefiui (Totti) moving from his usual open side flanker position to replace the injured Manasa Cakau (Nado) at No.8. In the backs, we saw the welcome return of fullback, Jimmy Adams.
The story of the first half was of Marlborough playing up the slope and spending most of the time defending their try line with everything they had in the tank, which they did very effectively. Chippenham were relentless in the pursuit of getting over the try line, but Marlborough were not prepared to roll over and surrender, they dug in and battled. By doing so, sadly the penalty count went up, but Marlborough did not falter. When the home side did get some ball, which was very rare, just as they got their momentum going, the whistle blew for a penalty, so back they had to trudge and try again. Sadly, Marlborough also received two yellow cards for their endeavours.
Half Time: Marlborough 0 – Chippenham 0.
The half-time talk from Fe’ao Vunipola (coach) and the skipper, Ben Fulton, was brief and to the point, leaving the players in no doubt what was required of each of them in the second half.
Five minutes after the restart, inside centre, Mesake Kini now playing No 8, while Siaosi Feaomefiui (Totti) was seeing out his yellow card, picked the ball up from the base of the scrum and ran in for the first score of the game which was converted by Will Cowan-Dickie.
Though the weather was getting more and more gloomy, there was plenty of sparkle coming off the Common. Marlborough were now starting to get the upper hand over the visitors. On fifty minutes, Ash Horner stormed over to score, seeing a gap in Chippenham’s defensive line, and just ploughed through. He is getting rather good at this! Will Cowan Dickie kindly did the honours and converted the try.
Marlborough very much having everything their own way, they were using the slope to its full advantage and were working well together. The next try, on 58 minutes, coming from the outside centre, Joe Pittams, running an excellent line to split the Chippenham defence to score but sadly this was unconverted.
During this period of Marlborough dominance, Chippenham were in no mood to wave the white flag, they kept fighting, but Marlborough’s defence remained on point. This is something that Elisi and Fe’ao Vunipola are rightly becoming proud of. Their hard work on Thursday training sessions is paying off. It was during this period of Chippenham’s pressure that Marlborough scored their fourth try, coming from an interception in the Marlborough 22, by winger Jonasa Tabua (Tabs) who ran the length of the pitch to score but sadly this was not converted.
Shortly after Marlborough picked up their third yellow card of the afternoon, with fly-half Will Cowan-Dickie being sent off for an unscheduled rest, and not long after the card, Chippenham scored. The visitors picked up from the base of the scrum, one pass and Marlborough had run out of defensive numbers allowing for Chippenham to score but no conversion was made.
Final Score: Marlborough 24 – Chippenham 5.
After the game, Team Manager, Dave Pittams explained that “while Marlborough’s 1st and 2nd XV are still very much a work in progress, there are now some encouraging signs. The front row of Ash Horner, Solomone Aniseko (Seko) and Lemeki Moala (Meki) is just excellent, both in the set piece, loose play, and defence”. Ash was awarded ‘man of the match’ which was richly deserved.
1st XV coach, Fe’oa Vunipola was delighted with the boy’s performance, commenting “it was a performance that even a Premiership Club would have been proud of …textbook and professional standard. Now the challenge is to keep producing that standard week in week out”.
Two thirds of the team which played on Saturday were under the age of 23, which is very exciting for the Club. Also, the introduction of Will Cowan-Dickie to the side has made an impact on the team and the way that they are playing. The Marlborough supporters were delighted with the result and were very much starting to get into the festive spirit. They would like this continue next week when the 1st XV are away to the Oxfordshire side, Grove who are currently five positions below Marlborough in the league. So, if the big fella is listening, this is what Marlborough would very much like for Christmas, to finish the year with three consecutive wins – after all they have been very good!