Marlborough 27 - 8 Chippenham
Last Saturday (15 February), the playing conditions for Marlborough who were hosting Chippenham on the Common were just awful – heavy rain, gale force wind and a very sodden pitch, not the ideal conditions or so you would have thought.
The home side adapted really well to the playing conditions; as well as giving a first senior team start to 19-year-old scrum half Edi Moku. The team also welcomed back from injury, 18-year-old Kuki Daunakamakma. along with Colt player Ben Wilmot, again making the first team squad and impressing when he came on.
Marlborough’s scrum proved to be the dominant force due to the work done by forwards Coach Fa’ao Filise during training which is now really starting to pay off. Due to the conditions the line outs were a bit of a lottery for both teams.
In the first half, Marlborough played up the slope, with the wind behind them, there was some excellent tactical kicking by Daniel Jones, Mac Lewis and Jake Kane which kept Chippenham under pressure. Marlborough’s first try came from a patient build up by the forwards which ended up with the Captain, Insosi Leqekoro, scoring in the corner but the conversion missed, 5-0.
Chippenham tried to put pressure on Marlborough, but the home sides defence held. The next try was scored by Tui Tuilovoni after a hard and direct run from Mac Lewis sucking in Chippenham’s defence, offloading to Ovini, who beat his marker to score, again the conversion was missed, 10-0.
Chippenham then kicked a penalty taking the scores to 10-3. Ovini Tuitoga then went and got his second try following a nice move by the backs which showed excellent handling in the conditions, the conversion missed, 15-3.
Chippenham fought back with an unconverted try of their own as the Marlborough defence seemed to have switched off bringing the halftime scores to Marlborough 15 – Chippenham 8.
The conditions were going from bad to worse in the second half and the pitch was now cutting up very badly which was starting to negate Marlborough’s scrum. Again, the kicking by the backs, even into the gale was pretty good. Inevitably handling errors from both sides increased as the ball felt as though it had been covered in soap in the second half.
Marlborough squandered a couple of chances just dropping the ball when the try line beckoned. There was only one score in the second half with Ovini Tuitoga scoring his second hattrick in consecutive weeks, an excellent try under the posts but Daniel Jones converted this one – final score Marlborough 22 – Chippenham 8.
This was an excellent team performance by Marlborough who were superbly led by Insosi Laqekoro (Knoxy). It is difficult to pick out any individual performance as the whole team stepped up but young Edi Moku, making his first team debut in those conditions and playing as well as he did, does deserve a mention. Next week the 1st XV have a weekend off, hopefully this won’t cause the boys to go off the boil as the following week they are away to Windsor. This will be first time Marlborough has been back to Windsor in nearly two years after the boys won the play offs stopping the Berkshire side from gaining promotion. There will be a point to prove by the home side but that just adds to the anticipation, roll on the 28 February.