Olney RFC visited Riverwoods for Marlow’s first home game of 2011-12. Last season Marlow finished 4th in the league, with Olney only 6 points behind, and an amazing 14 tries and 86 points were scored in the corresponding fixture - so if last year’s form was anything to go by, then the omens were good for an open and exciting match. The Marlow players were determined to improve upon last week’s disappointing performance at Coney Hill, and with Olney too suffering a heavy defeat away to Witney, the league table before the match had a very unusual look about it, with Olney at the bottom and Marlow just above with a slightly better points’ difference. Marlow’s 18 showed 5 changes from last week, with back row forward Ted Hewett, hooker Conor Mitchell and backs Hugo Jafari
, Mike Rauchwerger
and Rhys Weston coming into the squad.
Marlow kicked off just as the rain stopped against an Olney side still hit by the injuries they suffered in the first game of the season. A good drive by the Marlow forwards resulted in an early offence by Olney, the penalty saw Marlow opt for a kick to touch and from the lineout Marlow drove over and Chris Ellis
scored with less than 2 minutes of the game played. Olney came back strongly, and but for an excellent cover the scores would have been level.
With the pack able to put severe pressure on the Olney scrum and with some sensible kicking by Will Fulton
, Marlow ensured that the game was played in the Olney half. The pressure told when an opportunist break by Jack Rider
resulted in him scoring in front of the post after 20 minutes, but the conversion was missed on a day not best suited for place kickers in England and New Zealand. Both sides tried to play running Rugby with a rather wet ball which resulted in several handling errors. With the ascendency in the scrums Marlow came very close to scoring when Jonathan Wolfe
picked up at the base of the scrum and nearly drove over, followed shortly after by a great steal by Ted Hewett which resulted in Olney collapsing the ruck 20 yards from their line. Marlow, having again elected to kick for touch, won the lineout and drove forward only for the Olney no. 8 to be yellow carded for coming in at the side after 30 minutes of play. Marlow went for the scrum but with the ball being kicked through by the Marlow Front Row the opportunity was wasted.
Olney, despite being down to 14 men started to put more pressure on Marlow and took play into the Marlow half for the first time for nearly 20 minutes however they were unable to get any points for all their efforts and it was Marlow who added a further score when Miles Noble went over following good work by Jonathon Wolfe and Will Fulton
. An excellent conversion by the Fly Half from wide out gave Marlow a half time lead 17 - 0
Marlow continued to put pressure on the opposition and but for some good tackling and kicking by the Olney Fly Half and Full Back would have scored again. A wonderful 50 yard break by Will Fulton
ended with him being well tackled just short of the try line. Jack Rider
and Will Fulton
were setting up opportunities for themselves and the other backs and again Olney did very well to keep them and the Jafari Brothers out. During the next ten minutes Olney received two more yellow cards for transgressions by their forwards during which time Jack Rider
was able to see a gap and burst through for a try and a further good move by the backs resulted in Miles Noble scoring and a well controlled rolling maul ended with Richard Pyke going over.
A committed and composed performance by Marlow, with a ruthless edge to it. 6 tries and 2 conversions was a fair reflection on the game but full credit should be given to Olney who battled gamely, having gone into the game with several key players out injured. However, they did not help their cause by having 3 yellow cards, which were the result of frustration more than anything else. The Marlow pack dominated the scrums and lineouts and with such a platform the back row was able to set up great ball for the half backs who despite only coming together this season have developed a very good understanding. Elsewhere, there were again some striking results in the other games in the league, including Reading Abbey losing 66 – 0 at Coney Hill and High Wycombe again losing heavily, this time away to Salisbury. Next week Marlow is away at Reading Abbey and then at home to Buckingham on 24th September.
E. Smyth, C. Mitchell, C. Baker (F. Vunipola), R. Pyke, R. Townsend, C. Ellis, E. Hewett, J. Wolfe (M. Helling); J. Rider, W. Fulton, M. Noble, G. Jafari (Capt.), B. Milligan, M. Rauchwerger (R. Weston), H. Jafari.
Scorers: - Tries: Ellis, Rider (2), Noble (2), Pyke. Conversions: Fulton (2)
Referee: - Mr Richard Bennett, Buckinghamshire Society
Match Report by Ian Petty, photographs by Paul Kuiken