MRFC were welcomed to Melksham today for their first match and the first D&W cup fixture of the season. The 50 minute format now features contested six man scrums on a midi pitch. Marlborough fielded a full squad with 6 subs and rotated quarterly, giving everyone equal playtime.
Marlborough received from the kick off, in blustery conditions, and showed good intent with ball in hand. The handling was good and found width on both wings. Melksham seemed more competitive at the break down and muscled Marlborough off the ball giving Archie T difficulty in recycling. Archie B relived the pressure with a good clearance kick, helped by the tailwind. Melksham’s counter was good and although Marlborough’s tackles stuck, they conceded territory and struggled to get out of their own half. Eventually, Melksham broke through and scored the first try.
Marlborough regrouped and used some crash ball carrying with effect. Charlie C, Max, Freddie and debutant Fergus looked good carrying the ball into contact. But recycling was a problem with aggressive counter rucking by the hosts. Harry struggled to find the gaps that he craved and Guy got tangled up before he could hit the gas pedal. Ben A carried the ball well and added good physicality to the attack. Melksham scored their second deep into the first half. Marlborough struck back from the kick off and found Freddie who finally crossed the Melksham try line, but sadly knocked on. A bitter blow to the visitors.
The second half was quite disjointed with a string of injuries and infringements. Tom and JJ competed well at the fringes and Ben M found some space on the wing. Jack and Ed struggled to get going but they contained the opposition well. Frustration crept in where decisions just didn’t seem to go Marlborough’s way. Marlborough conceded two soft tries towards the end which capped a frustrating morning.
In all, Marlborough played well individually, but the backs and forwards just didn’t connect. When they wanted to, the forwards showed the aggression and got low to drive the opposition off the ball. But they just needed to sustain that determination for the total 50 minutes. Defensively, Marlborough were a little flat. Tackling was good (James L and Matthew in particular covered a lot of ground to make crucial tackles, two try savers in total) but we gave Melksham too much space. Plenty to work on in the coming weeks
Finally, thank you to the players who opted to sit out this week. Having such a healthy squad size at this stage is so important for future seasons. Melksham is a big club but they were unable to field any subs!