U12 Marlborough 15 - 25 Hungerford RFC
By Will Maskell
Much improved performance in return local derby encounter
The cancelled U12 Chipfest resulted in a scratch fixture being arranged for two familiar rivals today on the common. The fixture consisted of four ten minute quarters. This was a chance for Marlborough to make amends for their recent loss away to Hungerford a few weeks ago.
It was not a great day for kicking and so it would prove that the team who could dominate territory would prosper. This called for accuracy in passing and determination in the tight quarters. Marlborough looked to edge it in both departments where they rucked very well to secure multiple phases for the majority of the game. Hungerford had to work hard to contain Marlborough back line as Archie T and James L combined well. Freddie stood out with his driving runs at first receiver, backed up with determined 'route one' running by Jacko, OJ, Oscar, Ben and Charlie K. Archie B also helped distribute the ball and get that width we were missing in the last encounter with our wingers (notably Guy and Ed) contributing very well. But Hungerford contained our attacks with some very good rush defense, in spite of some early high tackle infringements. They frustrated Marlborough, not allowing their dominant possession to convert into points.
Defensively, Marlborough were also better disciplined today and they contested well in contact. Henry, Guy and James L spear-headed the defense holding Hungerford at bay as they tried to break through. Marlborough too gave little space for Hungerford to gather momentum and often pushed the visitors backwards in possession. But when they did find some space and were able to release their big runners, Marlborough looked more vulnerable. This was ultimately our undoing and proved to be the deciding factor.
As the game ground on, some handling errors crept in resulting in easy turnover ball. There were a few, needless panic moments too where we attempted to clear our lines with a kicks into the gale force wind that just added to the pressure. This ultimately exposed our defense with Hungerford's key playmaker (a St. John's classmate ironically) crossing the line and extending their lead.
Despite this, Marlborough held their nerve, especially in pressure moments defending their line. They kept things simple and kept pushing for the opener. Finally, this came from a quickly recycled ruck ball, some width and Henry touching down in the corner. Freddie scored a pick and drive try, rewarding the hard work he had put in all morning. Archie B scored a good try exploiting a gap in true scrum half opportunist fashion. Sadly time was running out for a meaningful comeback. Hungerford sealed their victory with a good try in the dying minutes.
Hungerford deserved the win today. They exploited their opportunities well and in general their attack looked more potent. Hungerford also gave little space for Marlborough to play. Marlborough moved the ball very well but looked a little more static in comparison. Nevertheless, it was a vast improvement on the last fixture. It's also good to see the skill gap between our more accomplished players and those developing is narrowing rapidly. Today was a very competitive game and evenly matched and we should congratulate all the players and coaches for a fine performance. With a little fine tuning Marlborough will be hard to beat.
Thank you to Richard Nocton for refereeing this 'edgy' fixture fairly and helping make it so entertaining.