Marlborough Edge Out Salisbury in Superb Game for The Neutrals.
Salisbury 28 – 41 Marlborough
On the first day of Advent, both sets of fans opened their doors to a magnificent game of rugby at Salisbury. The sun was out, and the recent cold weather relented to provide perfect conditions for the players. Marlborough, on the back of a home defeat to Royal Wootton Bassett felt this was a good opportunity to return to winning ways, despite a number of injuries causing selection complications.
Within two minutes of the game kicking off Marlborough were behind. After turning over the ball inside their own 22, Marlborough dropped a simple pass and the oncoming Salisbury attacker reacted to the loose ball and charged to the line. The try was converted with a simple kick in front of the posts. 0-7.
Marlborough struggled to settle down for the first ten minutes but soon grew into the game. They had a good spell of territory and on 16 minutes the pressure led to Marlborough’s first try. Salisbury frantically tried to clear their lines with a kick 5 metres from their try line, but it was charged down and Avenai Cakaunitavuki touched down. The try was converted successfully by Will Grant to level the scores.
Marlborough continued to play with high intensity and soon got their reward. MacDonald Lewis chipped the Salisbury defence with a very clever kick which was spilled by the full-back and Ben Fulton was on hand to capitalise and to put Marlborough in front on 19 minutes. Will Grant converted again to put Marlborough ahead 14-7.
The game continued to be played with pace and strong tackling which the crowd enjoyed. Marlborough shaded the game but had three good chances thwarted on the line. Eventually, Marlborough scored again. It came from another charged down kick and Ben Fulton was alive to the mistake once more. The try was coming. Will Grant converted once more to give Marlborough a 21-7 lead after 35 minutes. And with one comes two; only three minutes later a superb line break from Avenai Cakaunitavuki set up Ben Caravou to score. The try was converted by Will Grant to secure Marlborough’s bonus point. 28-7.
Half-time seemed to come at the wrong time for Marlborough. They really picked up momentum in the 5 minutes leading up to the whistle and were eager to convert into points. With the last kick of the half, Will Grant struck a penalty through the posts to put Marlborough 31-7 up at the break. Despite Marlborough having a 24-point lead, the game was close.
Marlborough came out of the blocks fast in the second-half. Twice in the first five minutes they were held up on the line by some last-ditch Salisbury defending, but on 47 minutes Todd Johnson went over the line after a 5-metre scrum. Will Grant missed his first kick of the game to leave the score at 36-7.
A really good spell of rugby followed from Salisbury. On 53 minutes they broke the Marlborough line for the first time and number 13 scored. The try was converted to the delight of the Salisbury faithful who begun their unusual ‘broom-broom’ chants. 36-14.
Salisbury continued to accelerate forward with pace. Marlborough were giving away a lot of penalties and struggled to take the sting out of the game. Then with 10 minutes remaining, the Salisbury number 1 barged his way through to score their third try of the game. It was converted to bring Salisbury within 15 points. 36-21.
However, their chances were dashed when Mitieli Vulikijapani ran from inside his own half to score the try of the match. He seemed to ghost past all the Salisbury defenders. The kick from Will Grant narrowly missed. 41-21. With two minutes to go, a penalty try was awarded to Salisbury and Tom West was given a questionable yellow card. 41-28. Salisbury continued to press hard, but it was too little, too late. Full-time Salisbury 28-41 Marlborough.
It was a thoroughly entertaining game of rugby and a solid performance from Marlborough: a much-needed bounce back after last week. Hopefully they can take this confidence into next week’s home fixture against Stratford-Upon-Avon 2.15pm kick-off at The Common.