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30

MAR

Marlborough win the league and look to go unbeaten through the season
Marlborough 21 – 7 Calne
Marlborough wrapped up the Wilts and Dorset League title on Saturday with a win over 3rd placed Calne, which extended the unbeaten league season to 19 games. The match, watched by many at the common after a Vice Presidents and Sponsors lunch, wasn’t the clinical performance Marlborough were looking for whilst confirming their place in the South Counties league next year. Calne pressurised the Marlborough set piece from the off, winning scrums against the head and stealing some line out ball, but once Marlborough’s nerves had settled, and they had come to terms with the tricky conditions, they began to assert their authority on the match, and show why they are deserved champions of the league with 3 games remaining. Marlborough found the visitors in determined mood, and with nothing to play for themselves, were there to cause an upset and send shockwaves through the league as they scrambled to be the first side to inflict defeat on the Marlborough side. Eventually this over enthusiasm led to infringements and penalties, 3 of which were kickable in the first period, and wing Nathan Morgan duly slotted these to open up a 9-0 half time lead, much to the annoyance and dismay of the travelling Calne faithful, who were vocal as ever. The Calne fans, along with a talk from coach Gary Sharp, had Marlborough fired up and ready for the 2nd half.
The 2nd half started with Calne playing some attacking rugby, and much to the surprise of the home side, moving the ball away from their enormous set of forwards, which played right into the hands of Marlborough, who had by far the fitter and more dynamic pack. This, coupled with the sterling work in defence by Fly Half and Man of the Match Chris Patterson, and the Marlborough centres, led to Marlborough managing to turn over lots of ball, giving the loose forwards and Marlborough backs plenty of room to attack. Surges upfield from hooker Tom Phillips, in an outstanding display, and the beast-like breaks from the marauding Dave Lemon, led to field position, and the chance to attack for the overdue tries. The calls from the Calne sideline of ‘you only have a boot’, meant to intimidate the home side, were soon put to rest as Lemon crashed over the whitewash 15 minutes into the second half, following another forward rumble. This opened up the lead to 14 points. With Calne looking to attack at every opportunity, Marlborough knew they would have to score again to make the game safe. With 10 minutes to go, the home supporters were in ecstasy again, as following some crash ball from Kevin Pike, Taff Jones and Joe Mitchell, Marlborough had an overlap, and an exquisite pass from Patterson left Morgan one-on-one with his opposite man, whom he stepped to cross in the corner and run the ball in under the posts. The following conversion left the score at 21-0, and Marlborough tasting success. The only blip of the half came when, following a misjudged lineout, a Calne prop broke clear with no cover tackle in sight to cross near the sticks. The big prop then dusted himself off to convert his own try, with the assistance of the post, to complete the scoring for the day, leaving the home side yet again victorious.
There were certainly aspects of the game that could have been improved; however this will be rectified for the final 3 games of the season. Huge credit most go to the Marlborough coaching staff and the whole squad of players for clinching the league title, but focus will now move to winning the final 3 games of the season, to make it an unbeaten league season.

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