Marlborough 13 – 34 London Welsh
Saturday afternoon was a great example for rugby in Marlborough. The pitch was in perfect condition, the clubhouse and bar were extremely busy before the game (and at half-time and post match), the sun shone and possibly the largest crowd to watch Marlborough Rugby at home witnessed an excellent, skilful and hard fought contest between two strong sides. Unfortunately one side proved to be just that bit stronger, and it wasn’t Marlborough. But it was an excellent display of what this level of rugby can offer the spectator and The Common on Saturday was a place to witness that.
Leila Nairne reports on the match: Marlborough hosted London Welsh on the Common on Saturday. There was a lot of excitement surrounding this game, as the club hosted a sponsor’s lunch, with some 1871 members attending, as well as the annual ‘Old Boys’ reunion. The air was filled with anticipation. London Welsh may not be the team they once were, yet they remain a heavyweight in this division.
Because London Welsh had had a difficult journey due to an accident on the M4, the kickoff was delayed by fifteen minutes so that they could at least have a warmup. It was a beautiful autumn day, and both sets of supporters had great hopes for their teams. It is unusual that a Marlborough match draws more than 250 people to the Common but it was great to see.
A minute’s silence was observed prior to kick off as a mark of respect for Marlborough’s loss of a former player Conrad Frysol, who was a key member of the club in the 1970s and 1980s, had recently died.
At 2.15 pm the referee blew his whistle, and Marlborough raced out of the blocks with energy and determination. The visitor’s answer was to be continually penalised. Will Grant’s boot put Marlborough ahead by six points. The Dragon’s eventually found their feet and their defence was impressive; they couldn’t be broken through, and on 22 minutes, the visitors scored their first try of the day, aided by some poor Marlborough midfield defence, which went unconverted.
The Dragons scored another unconverted try ten minutes later. Soon after, Marlborough had the ball and appeared to be on their way to their first try of the day, only to have it knocked on just short of the line.
Half – Time: Marlborough 6 – London Welsh 10
Marlborough were well into this game at halftime. And, as usual, the halftime speech was to the mark; Marlborough entered the second half with every reason to believe that they could step up and take control of the game, especially with the slight advantage of coming downhill. Unfortunately, that did not come to pass. On the 47th minute, the Dragons showcased their fitness and speed by scoring another unconverted try. The ball was simply passed along the back line, with the Marlborough defence appearing to back off.
Marlborough were then unable to get a foothold in the game for the following 20 minutes. The Dragons were awarded a penalty try, and yellow cards were then released in quick succession. At one point Marlborough had only 12 players on the pitch with Adam Neale, Will Grant, and Maikolo Manu forced to take a ten-minute break. With so few men on the pitch, Marlborough’s defensive line simply ran out of bodies to man the barricades, and the visitors eventually scored again, but this time it was converted.
The Dragon’s number 2 player sadly got injured and the match was moved up to second team pitch. We hope he has a speedy recovery.
Ten minutes before the final whistle, the visitors scored their final try of the day, which was left unconverted. Even with only 14 players on the pitch, Marlborough appeared to wake up. Save Tuimatanisaqa (who was named Man of the Match in Marlborough’s previous match) stormed over the line for a consolation try, which was converted by newcomer Inosi Muna.
Final Score: Marlborough 13 – London Welsh 34
Though the Marlborough faithful were disappointed, and the players were too, but the game very clearly highlighted where Marlborough need to be if they want to progress further. The boys need to knuckle down and work hard on their weak areas. They can no longer just rely on the strength of the front row as their get out of jail card. The beginning of the game was exciting and thrilling, and the Dragons were getting a little fiery but sadly it could not be maintained.
The Dragon’s may have won their league match, but their National side was unable to win their Rugby World Cup game against Argentina so the Dragon’s didn’t quite get everything they wanted.
Next Saturday the boys are off on their travels again, this time they will be visiting C S Stags 1863 who are based at Kings House Sports Ground in Chiswick and note the kick-off time will be 5.00 pm. This again will be a match where the two teams meet for the very first time. Currently Stags lie in sixth position within the league table and Marlborough are two places below.