Marlborough 66 – 13 Salisbury
Saturday was the start of 2019/2020 season for Marlborough I; the seconds don’t begin their campaign until next Saturday. The Clubhouse was buzzing with anticipation from both sides, each believing they were the ones who were going to take the spoils.
At 3:00 pm the referee blew his whistle, signalling the beginning of the season and the game. Salisbury opened the scoring up with a driving maul after 10 minutes but they failed to convert.
After 15 minutes, Marlborough’s new Full Back, Jake Kane, ran in the first try for the home side, following a pre-planned move from an attacking scrum; Will Grant converted, it was now 7-5.
A few minutes later, Marlborough had an attacking line out on Salisbury’s 22, which set up a driving maul for Lemeki Moala (Meki) to score. Will missed this conversion and so the score was now 12-5.
Shortly afterwards Salisbury kicked a penalty awarded for Marlborough being offside. On the thirty-minute marker Mitieli Vulikijapani (Mitchi) made a 70-metre break, beating several Salisbury players, offloading out of the tackle 5 metres from the line for James Farrell to score and for another conversion.
Just before halftime, Marlborough’s loose head prop, Ashley Horner, received a yellow card for handling in the ruck, Salisbury scored from the resulting penalty following some poor defending by Marlborough. Half time score, Marlborough 19 – Salisbury 13.
In the second half, Marlborough up the tempo following the half time talk from the coaches, the boys would now be going downhill and they know how to use this advantage. Within eight minutes Mitieli Vulikijapani scored a fantastic individual try, collecting the ball from a poor Salisbury clearance and running in under the posts, which Will dually converted; the score was now 26-13.
Salisbury then had a sustained period in Marlborough’s 22, but a well drilled defence who battled hard, held out well. Finally, turning the ball over and James Farrell clearing it down the pitch, players gave chase, but it was Amori Nailgo who won the ball to score, again Will converted (33-13).
Marlborough was dominating the game, and after 64 minutes Mitieli Vulikijapani got his hat-trick with another very impressive individual run, but sadly there was no conversion (38–13).
Two minutes later, James Farrell collected the ball from just outside Salisbury’s 22, beating another three players to score, this time Will made the conversion (45-13).
In the last ten minutes of the game, Jimmy Adams (Marlborough’s new inside centre) dummied and stepped around players to score with Will, adding the icing to the cake (52-13).
In the final five minutes, the first teams new, young, front row (formerly a colt and second team player), Rhodri Campbell, ran 20 metres to score with Will making the conversion.
In the dying seconds of the game, Amori Nailago (Moree) made a break passing to Jake Kane, who scored his second try of the game and Will converted making the final score – Marlborough 66 – Salisbury 13.
This was an encouraging start for Marlborough who had four new players included in the squad, plus three players who have come through a seamless transition from juniors, to the colts and finally into the seniors. The Marlborough crowd was ecstatic and cannot wait for the next game. Though the coaches were happy to take the win, they are also aware that there is more work to be done. It is a long season, and this was just the first game – but there was much to be happy with!