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Marlborough face Wootton Bassett in pre season friendly
Marlborough began their 2010/2011 season with a friendly against Wootton Bassett at the common on Saturday. The newly promoted home side were missing a couple of key players from last season, and approached the friendly as more of a trial match, using 25 players during the afternoon, in different positions and in different combinations.

Marlborough, who will be playing the same level of rugby as their visitors for the first time in over a decade, knew the game would be a tough match, as Wootton Bassett were playing South West league one rugby last year. This was seeming to be the case, as Bassett ran in 3 tries in the first 15 minutes, to take a 15-0 lead, and leave the home side scratching their heads. The penalty count against Marlborough started mounting very quickly, and with expert distribution from their young scrum half, Bassett attacked the Marlborough line with vigour. The change of rules that has come in this season regarding the interpretation of the breakdown took Marlborough a while to come to terms with, and Bassett having played 3 pre-season games before Saturday, coped with them better.

As soon as Marlborough started to string some phases of play together, the side that went unbeaten last year began to apply some pressure. Chris Patterson, playing at number 8, was in superb form, running from deep and beating Bassett players with ease, and gaining yards every time. Supported ably by flankers Hugh Sutcliffe and Jack Cooper, the home side started to find great field position, which was used well by flay half Tim Pierce, who directed play with great assurance. Captain Jon Crowe was also running some direct lines, and making yards, and as the ball went wide, Marlborough found themselves making yards at will. The first try for the home side came when Patterson received the ball from a quick tap penalty in the Bassett 22, and crashed over the line, taking 3 defenders with him. This was the jolt Marlborough needed to wake themselves up, as they proceeded to match Bassett in the scrum. Patch Campbell moved from 2nd row to loose prop after just 2 minutes of the match, and held his own superbly. The bad news for the home side was that this change came due to a shoulder dislocation to Adam Whatley – all at the club wish him a speedy recovery. Further tries followed for fullback Laurence Baker, who crossed in the corner following rapid ball from the break down, and Jon Crowe, who scored following another great line off fly half Pierce. With 10 minutes to go, Marlborough levelled the game, when their left winger Guy crossed in the corner, following another forwards surge, and quick ball wide. Wing Nathan Morgan nailed the touchline conversion to level the tie at 22 each. Unfortunately Marlborough could not push on, and as Bassett attacked, Marlborough over-committed players to a ruck, leaving an overlap out wide, which was exploited as Bassett took the lead to win the game.

Marlborough can take many positives from the match, their fitness was sublime, thanks to the efforts of Kevin Clancy over the summer in getting the lads fit, and that, once into their stride, they matched their high class opponents, and in phases, outplayed them.

The league season gets underway on Saturday, with Marlborough taking on Corsham at the common, in what promises to be a tough baptism in the South Counties league. Kick off is at 3pm, all support is welcome.
Quotes below...
“It was a good warm up with some valuable learning for the whole team. Overall we improved as the game went on and ended closer to our game plan. There were a number of players who impressed and demonstrated that we have some decisions to make this week and that we have some strength in depth. The team looks very well prepared for life in a higher league.”
Gary Sharp, Club Coach

“Although this was our only friendly before the season kicks off next week, match fitness was very good and I was happy with the general performance. It was good to see some of the younger players step up into the 1st team and show what they could do. We have identified areas of our game that we need to work on before our first league game against Corsham and have some selection headaches as well with the guys fighting for inclusion.
The key factor that will decide our success or failure in this league is our ability to convert attacks into points. We must be more clinical but I expect us to compete in this league and show that we can play a good brand of rugby and hopefully we can surprise a few teams along the way.”
Jonathan Crowe, Club Captain

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