Buckingham 26 – 39 Marlborough
Last Saturday, Marlborough travelled down to Buckingham, to fulfil their Tribute South West 1 East fixture. The conditions were once again bitterly cold and blustery, not as bad as the previous week’s conditions but bad enough.
The squad arrived at Buckingham a little depleted, with players who were no longer available to play for various reasons, which meant that seventeen guys turned up and a couple were pinched from the second team. Again, a good portion of the team was made up of youngsters who did not have much 1st XV experience.
From the whistle blowing, Buckingham were off to a strong start, putting nineteen points on Marlborough in quick succession. Much to the delight of the home crowd, who were in good voice and humour after having their Christmas lunch and a glass or two of something to warm them up. Marlborough’s weaknesses were evident, with silly mistakes being made, unfamiliarity of some of the players which was then compounded by the new fly half, Will Cowan-Dickie having to come off the pitch due to feeling unwell. Joe Pittams took up the fly half position and back row forward, Siaosi Feaomefiui (Totti) came on as centre – not their preferred positions.
After a shaky start, Marlborough perked up with the help of returning 1st team captain, Ben Fulton, Marlborough found their flow. Marlborough’s physicality increased and the unfamiliar combinations within defence, started to click together.
On 30 minutes, Lotima Havili who was debuting for Marlborough out on the wing, finished off a very well worked try in the corner which was unconverted. Inside centre, Mesake Kini was now imposing himself onto the opposition with some hard, direct running, scoring two tries just before the half time whistle blew, one of which was converted by the skip.
Half time score; Buckingham 19 – Marlborough 17
The second half saw the welcome return of Will Cowan-Dickie back onto the pitch and he too started to have an influence on the game. Sadly, Marlborough saw two yellow cards: Solomone Aniseko (high tackle) and Ben Fulton (tip tackle). The remaining players dug deep; ‘man of the match’ Tommy Elbrow came crashing over on the 46th minute for an unconverted try.
Marlborough managed to hold the home team at bay until the return of Solomone Aniseko (Seko) and Ben, with some serious, physical defence from Lemeki Moala, Tom Longshaw, the returning Todd Johnson, and young Bradley Whatley, all stepping up
The crowd had become quite fond of Seko and were very happy to let him know if he hadn’t thrown the ball straight at a line out. There was some good banter which made for a great atmosphere and added to the enjoyment of the game.
On the 60th minute, Manasa Cakau (Nado) scored a well taken individual try. Unfortunately, Marlborough’s defence started to slip off slightly, and three minutes later, Buckingham broke through to score a converted try.
Marlborough kept their heads up, their intensity returned, and their work rate remained good, allowing Manasa Cakau (Nado) to score again on the 72nd minute which was converted by Will Cowan-Dickie.
Within a short period of time, newcomer, Will Cowan-Dickie scored a very nice individual try which exuded pace and skill, but sadly he could complete the conversion.
Final Score: Buckingham 26 – Marlborough 39
Team Manager, Dave Pittams explained “this was a really impressive effort from Marlborough. It has not been the easiest of seasons to date with the number of injuries suffered by key players including our influential Captain, Ben Fulton, as well as the loss of long-time scrum half, Jake Williams, has been a big blow to the stability of the team. The boys showed great character and really stepped up, with players turning up who were suffering niggles and should really have been rested.”
It was great to see Todd Johnson back in a Marlborough kit, with his usual enthusiasm for ploughing through the opposition with as many as possible of them hanging off his limbs. The experienced players gave a huge amount of confidence to the youngsters and those who were debuting for the 1st XV. The start may not have been ideal, but how they all played as team, got stuck in and they were rewarded with the win. Again, the influence and leadership skills of the skip, Ben Fulton cannot be overstated.
Next week, Marlborough are home to Chippenham who are one place below Marlborough in the league. This will add some extra spice to this local derby.