Marlborough 34 – 24 Swindon
On a rich vein of form with five wins from six, Head Coach Elisi Vunipola’s men faced a struggling Swindon side in their last game of the 2018/2019 campaign. The supporters enjoyed a feast of rugby, with the Firsts kicking off at 2.30pm and the Seconds kicking off their crucial game at 3.00pm. It was a great weekend for Marlborough Rugby as the Colts also triumphed, this time at neutral Frome where they beat Yeovil Colts to win the Dorset and Wiltshire Colts Plate final by 23-7.
Marlborough kicked off proceedings and made a strong start. Pio Tuwai, who has scored some great tries this season, crossed the whitewash in style to give Marlborough an early lead. Jake Williams converted to put Marlborough 7-0 up after just four minutes.
Jake Williams was on hand three minutes later when he kicked a successful penalty through the posts. Marlborough certainly started the game with the same attacking prowess they have been displaying so regularly in recent weeks.
However, Swindon were not going to go down without a fight in their final game. They had a good spell of possession in the Marlborough half and put the Marlborough defence under some rigorous testing; but failed to convert anything into points. The game was even, with both sides putting in some strong tackles to the delight of the supporters.
On twenty five minutes, Harry Jackson followed his own grubber kick to start a rapid Marlborough attack. Swindon’s players scrambled back, but from a resulting scrum, Garth Bari meandered his way through and extended the lead further. Jake duly converted: 17-0.
Five minutes later, Marlborough really began to assert their dominance. Ben Caravou, the winger with speed to burn, latched onto a loose ball down the left and coasted past the Swindon defence like they were not there to score a wonderful try. Jake stepped up and converted once again: 24-0.
Swindon responded with a try of their own, however. On thirty eight minutes, they put the ball in a huge maul after a lineout in the corner and bundled the ball over the line to put their first points on the board. T he fly-half kicked successfully: 24-7.
Though, it was Marlborough who had the last laugh of the first half when Harry Jackson scored a sublime try. Todd Johnsondid brilliantly to keep the ball in play, which was then spread left quickly, and then back to the right, stretching the Swindon defence. Harry Jackson had run a long way from full-back to pick up the ball and go over the line. Jake kicked from the right side to give Marlborough an unassailable lead of 31-7 at half-time.
Swindon started the second-half well and got a try on forty five minutes. Albeit a rather scrappy build up, they persisted at the Marlborough defence camped on the try line and eventually broke their way through. The try was duly converted: 31-14.
However, Marlborough stemmed the Swindon pressure with yet another try of their own on 51 minutes. Lemeki Moala broke the line as he has done so effectively this season, offloaded to Inosi Laqekoro who then popped the ball off to Semisi Rasivo who scored simply. It was a lovely try which showed off the delicate handling skills the Marlborough front pack have. Jake’s kick fell just short: 36-14.
In a game which seemed to be going back and forth repeatedly, Swindon scored yet again on fifty seven minutes. They put the ball in a maul as they had done in the first-half and powered their way over the line to score. The kick hit the post and rebounded wide: 36-19.
Just a few minutes later they scored again, via the same method. They were really up for a big comeback. The ball as put into the strong Swindon maul and barged over the whitewash yet again. The kick was missed once again, however: 36-24.
With Swindon piling on the pressure, Marlborough did well to slow the game down. They stopped Swindon building up any momentum and the game looked done and dusted with five minutes to go. On seventy six minutes, Semisi Rasivo scored his second try of the game after a really strong scrum and good darting run. Jake’s kick was successful to wrap the game up: 43-24.
It was a fitting end to a great season for Marlborough. A formidable attacking display with free-flowing rugby and a try-fest gave the faithful a treat on the last day of the season. Despite not being able to win promotion, the players, coaches and fans should be really proud of the debut year in South West 1 East.