Newbury 32 - 22 Marlborough
A bitter October afternoon at Monks Lane provided the setting for a superb game of rugby in the Wadworth 6X South West 1 East. The cold wind and autumn drizzle only seemed to add to the excitement inside the ground, with the atmosphere energetic throughout. Both sides had won all seven league games, with the Blues only ahead by a single bonus point, so something had to give and the crowd expected a very tight encounter.
Vunipola’s side made a fast start with instant pressure from the first whistle. They sustained an attack down the right and Ashley Horner scored the first try of the game in the 5th minute. The try was not converted, however, and the Blues responded swiftly. In the 14th minute Blues winger Tom Martin stretched his legs and scored in the left corner to complete a slick move, with the hint of a forward pass. The try was coming, despite resilient defending from Marlborough in their own twenty-two. The try was not converted, as both kickers tried to get used to the strong wind in the early stages of the match.
The game continued at a fast pace, Marlborough won a penalty thirty metres out which was kicked by Will Grant. This was then followed by a Newbury attempt a few minutes later that was missed. In the 29th minute, Josh Winfield went over for the Blues to the delight of the home fans after a couple of missed tackles on the blindside of the scrum by the visitors, which put them 12-8 ahead after the conversion.
Marlborough missed a penalty attempt before a glorious try saw Marlborough back in front when Josaia Visei received the ball near the halfway line and powerfully surged his way to the line. Will Grant converted a beauty from wide out to make the score 15-12. The Blues replied quickly with Josh Winfield scoring his second try of the game, with the conversion missed it was now 17-15 to Newbury. Just before half-time, the Blues won a penalty five metres from the line after a 10-phase attack and scored from the resulting scrum. The try was converted and the whistle blew – a tough end to the half for Marlborough.
Blues 24-15 Marlborough.
The second-half was much less eventful, with the game becoming much more edgy. The Blues won the first points of the half after scoring a penalty. Marlborough were struggling to compete at the line-outs, and they found it hard to gain territory as the game progressed and they began to look tired. However, with ten minutes left, Marlborough pushed down the right and after some brave defending on the line from the Blues, Marlborough’s number eight Tauyavu Bativagone scored to bring the Blues back within sight. Will Grant again converted to make it 27-22.
However, it was just too tall an order, and shortly before the final whistle Harvey North scored down the left wing for the Blues. The try was converted which left the Blues 32-22 ahead with only minutes left. Marlborough rallied defiantly at the end, but could not bring it back.
The final score line was rather harsh on Marlborough who went toe to toe with the Blues for the whole 80 minutes, but just could not quite take all their chances. Marlborough remain second in the table, a point above Royal Wootton Bassett and face Old Centralians at home next weekend kick off at 2.30 pm on the Common.