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Marlborough 14 - Corsham 35
Marlborough began their Southern Counties season at home against Corsham on Saturday, knowing that their games this season will be a lot tougher than they have been used to over the past couple of seasons. With the step up in the league structure comes the step up in quality, and Marlborough were only too aware of this after the opening exchanges. The visitors, who finished mid-table last season, were the perfect start to the new campaign for the side from the common, as it would prove a test against a side who have been in the South Counties structure for a few seasons.
The game didnít start brightly for Marlborough, who, as per last week in their friendly against Wootton Bassett, were slow out of the starting blocks, and conceded 2 tries in the opening 10 minutes. This coupled with a successful conversion and a penalty gave Corsham a 15-0 lead. Marlborough were struggling with the set piece, and were losing some of their own ball in this area. Coach Gary Sharp had warned of the necessity to keep possession as mistakes would be punished as the early exchanges showed. Marlborough settled into the game after this, and spent prolonged periods in the Corsham half, but losing possession at crucial moments as they looked to build. Nearing the end of the half, Marlborough did manage to cross the opponents line, only for number 8 Chris Patterson to be held up after one of his many bulldozing breaks from the base of the scrum.
Shortly after however, Marlborough registered their first score of the season. The Corsham fly half missed touch with a kick, and wing Nathan Morgan gathered the ball and spread it across the field to fullback Laurence Baker, who in turn hit centre Adam Dobie. Following an interchange between Dobie and 1st team debutant Max Ansell, Dobie crossed in the far corner for the try. This was followed by the touchline conversion, as Morgan split the uprights from a tight angle. Corsham found themselves in the Marlborough 22 at the end of the half, and managed a drop goal to end the half 18-7 ahead.
Coach Sharp had a frank and honest talk with the team at half time, and summed up what the players knew Ė that they were still in the game, it was a case of converting the possession and territory they had, whilst cutting out errors that had crept in. However, the first score of the 2nd half went to the visitors, as they crossed the line after some missed tackles by Marlborough, much to the frustration of the home support and players. This was followed up with another try, before Marlborough replied. Following some surges forward by the pack, supported by Captain Jon Crowe, scrum half James Smith, also on 1st team debut, gave quick ball out to the backs, for Dobie to cross again. Morgan successfully converted to get Marlborough back in the game, however some further successful kicks from Corsham extended their lead, from which Marlborough never recovered.
There are many positives that Marlborough can take from the match, and once the errors from their own game are cut out, the signs look positive for the team in their first foray into South Counties rugby in years. Next up for Marlborough is the trip to local rivals Devizes, which promises to be a cracking game, with Devizes looking to avenge the defeat Marlborough put on them 2 years ago when they last played.
Author: Nathan Morgan

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