Devizes 11 – 25 Marlborough
With the teams sitting 5th and 6th in Southern Counties South, a keenly contested local derby was always on the cards and Saturdays game did not disappoint.
The early phases saw both sides trying to get the advantage and the midfield battle was on from the first minute. Marlborough joint coach Leo Tuliva was leading his backs well and with his centre partner Avenai Cakaunitavuki they both had a great day. The first points went to the visitors with penalty kicked by Garth Bari.
The home team responded with a converted try and the score was 7-3. The game was tight with Devizes looking to build phases and us a kick chase game. Marlborough were trying to force the game and seemed to want to score off first phase rather than build.
As the half drew to a close scrum half Maika Qiolevu dived over around the side of a ruck to score. Although the conversion was missed, a penalty by James Clancy right on half time gave Marlborough an 11-7 half time lead.
The half time talk from Marlborough was all about building phases and looking after the ball.
The second half started and immediately the change in the visitors tactics started to pay dividends. They were spreading the ball wider in the backs and gaining territory, but must importantly winning rucks and keeping the ball.
Semisi Rasivo was having a great game carrying the ball and making some hard runs as were both props Wilden Robanakadavu and Lemeki Moala. With 5 minutes gone in the second half a flowing move resulted in Avenai Cakaunitavuki scoring, Clancy converting.
Just 3 minutes later a similar attack resulted in space for Tuliva who ran in beat the defence, rounded in defender in the try area and went under the posts, again Clancy converting.
The score was now 25-11. The home crowd was quiet and Marlborough looking to be on top.
Then the game changed, Robanakadavu was red carded and suddenly Devizes sensed they could get back into the game. The Devizes crowd were loud again and the home team responded by scoring a try of their own after 50 minutes. This was converted and it was now 25-14.
The visitors once again had to raise their game and spent lot of the remainder of the game defending. Wing Ratu Vuira had been off for a nasty cut above his ear was back on and was a constant threat with his pace and attacking skills. Great defence by second row pair Jack Lynd and Jamie Pittams along with the rest of the team kept the visitors at bay.
A final score of 25-14 and honours in the local derby to Marlborough.