Witney 12 - 40 Marlborough
Marlborough recorded their 7th win in 7 games with an away victory over Witney. This keeps them just behind league leaders Newbury Blues. There were a number of positional changes due to unavailability for various reasons and also the returns of Garth Bari, Will Grant and Sam Gouldbourn.
The game started well with good early pressure as the visitors moved to within five metres of the Witney try line. Avenai Cakaunitavuki passed the ball out to Lemeki Moala who took the high pass, dummied and drove for the line. The defence couldn’t stop him and with Will Grant kicking the conversion, Marlborough were 7-0 up.
The second try was set up from a ruck in a similar position that had led to the first, this time scrum half Jake Williams passing to Joe Visei who ran it in under the posts, Grant again converting. It only took another two minutes for the third try to come along as Visei won a loose ball and got the ball out to Moala, who then passed it to Grant, who had cut a good line. He handed off the defender and was through, then rounded the cover defence and sprinted up field, eventually he was tackled just five metres short of the line. The support was there immediately and Epeli Kotobalavu quickly moved the ball out to Garth Bari who dived over under the posts. Grant again converted; that was 21-0 after 23 minutes.
It was to be 28 points in 31 minutes, when another quick attack saw outside half Tom West get the ball out to Grant who then moved it onto Pita Robanakadavu. He then beat a number of men before getting over the line; Grant added the extras.
The away team had been dominant to this point and the set piece ball constantly giving them good attack positions. This changed when Marlborough’s Captain Jamie Pittams was given a yellow card and with the man advantage Witney applied a lot of pressure. Despite some great defence by Marlborough, the pressure told and Witney eventually scored and converted a try of their own with the last score of the first half – half time Marlborough 28 – Witney 7.
Witney started the second half as they had finished the first, immediately they were on the attack and they scored early into the half. The score was 28-12 and the home team come back looked to be mounting. However, this changed when a good pass from Jake Williams was gathered by Visei to take the tackle and off load to Cakaunitavuki. He then ran in 20 meters to score in the right hand corner – Grant missed the conversion.
The final score of the game came on the hour mark when a good line out move saw Inosi Laqekoro take the ball and off load to Kotobalavu to run over unopposed. The conversion by Grant gave the final score of Marlborough 40-Witney 12.
Next week sees Marlborough visit league leaders Newbury Blues for a much anticipated and exciting encounter for this first time clash. Both teams will be more than up for the match, any weaknesses will be exposed and maximized. Marlborough hopes to take a good contingent of supporters, the more the merrier to see this battle - one team will no longer have a 100% win strike rate.