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Devizes 3 - Marlborough 10
Post the clock change, Saturday was the first game of the season with the earlier kick-off of 14.30hrs and along with this came the icy wind and rain – many thought ‘a good autumnal day for 10 man rugby’.
Marlborough won the toss and chose to play uphill against the strong crosswind. From the kickoff both teams set out their stalls and in the initial exchanges it looked like the two sides were evenly matched. Both units looked strong up front, with hard running and strong tackling from the back row and good pressure from the backs.
Early on Marlborough conceded a penalty just outside their own 25 metre line and Devizes missed the resulting kick at goal. From the drop out Marlborough moved up field and with a sustained period of pressure forced a series of mistakes from Devizes. When the penalty came, Nathan Moon opened the Marlborough account with three points in trying conditions.
As the first half progressed, the Marlborough scrum started to dominate. Lead by man-of-the-match, Kevin Pike, the tight five really began to turn the screw. Devizes seemed to have no answer and began to lose their own scrum put in as Marlborough enjoyed their afternoons work. This freed up the Marlborough back row who were devastating, combined with some stout defending from the midfield and bravery under the high ball at the back, the tide started to turn. However Marlborough were under heavy pressure at the lineout with the Devizes jumpers dominating proceedings and securing their own ball quite easily. So throughout the game honours were shared in the tight and set phases of the game.
Halftime came with Marlborough under serious pressure and conceding a series of penalties which Devizes chose to kick for the corner which allowed them a number of line outs close to the Marlborough try line – however Devizes were unable to capitalise and the half ended 3-0 to Marlborough.
The second half started with Devizes changing their game plan as they started driving from the lineout to suck in the defenders and then passing out wide. Marlborough countered with kicks to the corners using the crosswind. At this point the penalty count got out of control with Marlborough conceding four times as many penalties as Devizes and after sustained pressure, Devizes converted a penalty chance into their first points of the game with a kick at goal converted by Matty Holloran.
With the scores tied at 3-3 Marlborough upped the tempo and put Devizes under a period of extreme pressure, with marauding runs from the base of the scrum. By this time Marlborough had turned the dominance at the scrum into a series of tighthead heels. It was from one of these scrums that Dave Lemon and Armori connected, setting Marlborough’s new scrumhalf off on a mazy South Pacific Island run, beating four defenders to touch down just to the left of the uprights to score the first try that Devizes have conceded this season. Nathan Moon converted and with 25 minutes to go Marlborough were 10-3 up.
Shortly after the restart, the Devizes hooker was yellow carded for stamping. Faced with 14 men, Marlborough were able to stay in Devizes territory for the next ten minutes and this combined with the scrum dominance, sapped the Devizes energy, lifted Marlborough’s spirits and firing up the away support.
The last five minutes of the game had Devizes on the all out attack and Marlborough conceding penalty after penalty in their attempts to get their hands on the ball. Devizes chose to keep the ball alive and with repeated tap penalties drove deep into the Marlborough 25. Only committed defence – as Marlborough had displayed all afternoon, putting bodies on the line - kept the wave after wave of attack at bay. At the final whistle Marlborough were 10 – 3 up.
This was a hard fought victory, eked out with heart and commitment in the trenches, where the Marlborough team stood to be counted – and none where found wanting, all able to look each other in the eye and know that they had left everything on the field.

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