Old Cents once again proving to be a thorn in Marlborough’s side
By Leila Nairne
Even having legends on the pitch still can’t seem improve Marlborough’s ability to beat Old Cents.
With Spring in their steps after the amazing win over Newbury two weeks ago, Marlborough travelled over the border into Gloucester to face Old Cents for the second time this season, this time they were the hosts. Hopes were high that Marlborough could turn around the loss from earlier in the season when they visited the Common.
Things didn’t quite go to plan even in the warm up when Joeli Radovu was struggling with his leg and it was decided that Head Coach Elise Vunipola would have to don his shorts and make up the subs bench again. The boys looked as though they were up for the match and the challenge.
The whistle blew and it began; the hosts were the first to score which was quickly converted, 7 – 0. Marlborough came back fighting and by the twentieth minute guess who, yep the off-load King is back (Pio Tuwai) and puts Marlborough’s first points on the board, unfortunately Jake William’s was unable to make the conversion.
Not long after, our other try scoring maestro was not going to be out done by a legend, even if it is Pio, Mitieli Vulkijapani, stretches out those long legs of his, from inside the Marlborough 22 and flies past the Old Cents defenders and puts the ball down just to the side of the posts. Again, Jake comes up to take the conversion but this time the ball goes through the posts, the score is now 7 - 12.
On thirty-five minutes, Marlborough give away a penalty which Old Cents do not squander, and the score creeps up to 10 -12.
In the dying minutes of the first half, after Marlborough stoically drove on numerous scrums with Old Cents making nuisances of themselves before the referee finally said enough and awarded Marlborough a penalty try -the half-time score was 10 – 19.
The second half did not go to Marlborough’s plan, we had already lost the Captain, Jamie Pittam’s, in the first half due to an ankle injury. There were numerous missed tackles and some questionable decisions made by the team, but this just played into Old Cents hands and they were not going to allow a Marlborough mistakes to go by unpunished. They had a penalty try awarded to them, the referee believed Semisi Rasivo had performed a no arm tackle, for which he was also awarded a yellow card, the score was now 17 – 19. The match then became harder with Marlborough down to fourteen men, with no let up from the opposition who were sensing the possibility of another win against Marlborough.
Elise decided it was time to see if he could create a little bit of magic and so made a substitution. There were now three legends on that Gloucester pitch, Pio, Taufa’ao Filise and Elise all trying to get Marlborough to score but to no avail. When it's not your day, it's just not your day!
In the final two minutes of game, with poor defending and numerous missed tackles, Old Cents got through Marlborough’s defence and put down for the try. The final whistle blew, the score was 24 – 19 to Old Cents, they did it again! The hosts have turned out to be Marlborough’s nemesis this season, very competitive and don’t miss any opportunities given to them. They are still in second position with both Marlborough and Banbury joint third with nine points adrift. There is everything to play for in the remaining games, any team who doesn’t perform on the day will be severely punished with all three teams aiming for the playoffs as Newbury cannot be caught but they can be beaten.
Next Saturday (9th March) both teams are back on home turf on the Common, the 1st XV play Oxford Harlequins and the seconds play Swindon II. Hopefully the firsts can get back to their winning ways?