Marlborough 12 – 20 Oxford Harlequins
On Saturday, Marlborough hosted Oxford Harlequins on the Common and Autumn had arrived with wind, rain and what turned out to be a thoroughly miserable day if you were a Marlborough supporter. This was the fifth league game of the season (Tribute South West 1 East). Oxford came into the game with a 100%-win strike rate whereas Marlborough had won three and lost one, but Marlborough were still confident that they could get another home win.
The boys were very grateful to the team mascot for the day, Frazer Blasco, one of the Club’s U7s players who kindly gave up his Saturday, to come and lead the team onto the pitch before kick-off. He was a true professional, he helped to settle a few of the acting captain’s (Ollie Spanswick) pre-match nerves and took the whole event in his stride, not even the dreadful weather could faze him.
The game kicked off at three, and immediately Oxford were pushing Marlborough hard, causing the home side to make mistakes under the pressure. The ball looked as though it was smothered in grease, Marlborough struggled to keep hold of it, or Oxford were ripping the ball away from them. Very quickly, the visitors managed to put thirteen points on the home side, but fortunately Marlborough managed to get themselves back into the game thanks to another strong display from the forwards, resulting in a try from Inosi Laqekoro (Knoxy) but sadly the conversion was missed by Jake William’s.
Half time result: Marlborough 5 – Oxford Harlequins 13.
The Marlborough spectators were praying for a change in fortune in the second half, the boys would be coming downhill, surely the advantage was now in Marlborough’s favour?
The second half was a more even affair, Oxford had lost some of their dominance and the forwards were upping their game. Again, the front row consisting of Ash Horner, Aniseko Solomone and Lemeki Moala powered forward, each time any of them had hold of the ball, they just kept pushing towards the try line with the Oxford players hanging off their various limbs, but sadly point scoring opportunities were being missed. There was a little less organisation and communication between the backs, some of their game plan may have worked better if the weather conditions had been more favourable.
Eventually Marlborough’s luck changed for the better thanks to Daveta Ratu, who sped away to take the try for Marlborough, which was then converted by Jake Williams. The score was now Marlborough 12 – Oxford Harlequins 13. Only a point between the two teams, could Marlborough pull something out of the bag and take the lead – sadly not! Oxford struck back immediately with a converted try of their own, time was against Marlborough and Oxford had a spring in their step. The visitors knew all they had to do was to keep doing what they were doing, they could taste another win, it was within their grasp and then the whistle blew – the game was over. Final score: Marlborough 12 – Oxford Harlequin’s 20. A fifth successive win for the Oxfordshire side and fourth position in the league.
Head Coach, Elisi Vunipola was very pleased with “the youngster, Tom Elbrow who had some great periods of play as did the front row, the scrums are hard for any opposition to counter act.” Marlborough will go away and dissect the game, try to learn from it and move on. Next week, the first team are again home to Sherborne who have only lost one game so far this season and are currently third in the league. This will be another difficult game; the team are under no illusions, Marlborough needs to find their form again, and hopefully they will do so by Saturday.