Marlborough Rugby: Young first XV learn the hard way as injury depleted side suffers on the road
Old Patesians 24 - 17 Marlborough
On Saturday the first XV travelled over the border into Gloucestershire to play against Old Patesians. This game was meant to have been played back in December, but it was cancelled due to a waterlogged pitch. Again, it was a different side who turned up due to injuries; Marlborough now has a complete team of injured players on the side-lines. Young The slight bit of light at the end of the dark tunnel was that Colt player Ben Willmott made his debut for the firsts.
Marlborough started the game extremely well with yet another try from Kane Marafono within minutes of the whistle blowing, but the conversion missed, (5-0). Then the cruel hand of fate struck again, and Marlborough suffered more injuries when tight head prop Lemeki Mola had to leave the field of play with a serious eye injury. Back row, Rhodri Campbell had to move up into the front row position for the second week in succession. This left Marlborough with three hookers in the front row and unsurprisingly from here on in the scrum was under extreme pressure from a very good Old Pats pack. Old Pats scored three unanswered try’s in a 20 minute period but only one was converted, the score 17-5.
Viliame Waqanidrola did score a very good individual try after about 25 minutes and Daniel Jones converted, 17 – 12. Old Pats struck straight back with a converted try of their own, 24-12. Club Captain, Jamie Pittams, coming back from a yearlong injury, come off the bench to replace Lemeki Moala, but only managed two minutes on the pitch before receiving a yellow card for handling on the ground, obviously he had forgotten the rules during his time off! He did redeem himself in the second half with a much more solid performance and card free. The half time score was 24 – 12 to Old Pats.
The second half was an improvement from Marlborough after they had received a very good half time talk from coaches Elisi and Fa’ao. With a very much don’t panic approach. “We are now going to struggle in the set piece, but this is the plan”. A tactical change at fly-half, moving Macdonald Lewis from 12 to 10 to help lessen the impact of Marlborough’s under pressure scrum. Ben Willmott was introduced into the back row and gave a very good account of himself in his first ever game for the firsts. Marlborough did manage to put together some good phases of play, but there were inevitable mistakes from combinations that hadn’t played together before both in attack and defence. Inosi Laqekoro finished off a well worked try on 62 minutes but the conversion was missed.
In the final 20 minutes Marlborough upped their game, but despite losing almost every scrum, both for and against, put Old Patesians under pressure, but their defence was first class. The one thing Marlborough could take as a positive was that they prevented Old Pats from scoring in the second half and so the final score was Old Pats 24- Marlborough 17.
Though Marlborough may be enduring a lean period, it is not all gloom and doom. Every week they are having to bring in and blood new young players. Each of them has stepped up, gaining experience and confidence. The step up from Colts to level 6 rugby is massive and Ben Willmott did not look out of place in the slightest and slotted well into the team. Last week Stevie Uqueqeuanua did something similar, but unfortunately, he went onto a suffer a broken leg later in the week. Every week Marlborough are having to bring new players through into the first team.
The knock-on effect of all of the first team injuries has been the inevitable weakening of the second team, who to put it mildly, have struggled badly this season. But they are now starting to grow as a squad, finding some form and in the last two weeks have put together two very good bonus points wins. Next week the firsts are home to Buckingham and the seconds are away to Sutton Benger. Hopefully Marlborough will have an injury free Saturday, fingers crossed!