On Saturday, Marlborough hosted league leaders Banbury on the Common and the hope was that the home side could upset Banbury’s stranglehold on the league. With the sounds of screams from the ride goers echoing up from the Mop on the High Street, the game began.
Banbury quickly showed why they were at the top, they were very a well-coached and drilled side, but Marlborough were not going to be intimidated on home soil and their performance had improved massively from the previous week. The squad again included the youngsters, James Marshall. Rhodri Campbell and Kuki Daunakamakama.
For much of the first half, Banbury had much of the ball procession, and they were the first to score a try within the first fifteen minutes which they duly converted (0-7). Later in the first half, Marlborough were awarded a penalty, Will Grant stepped forward to take the kick 50 metres away from the posts, sadly the wind just kept hold of the ball sending it just short of the cross bar. Halftime score remained unchanged.
Five minutes into the second half, Grant converted a penalty following a stolen line out by Marlborough, where Banbury was penalised for an infringement at the following ruck, 3-7. Three minutes later and Will’s services were required again for the penalty following another Banbury infringement in the ruck by the visitors, 6-7.
The contest was more even between the sides, neither side wanting to give the other an inch. Unfortunately, Marlborough kept their eye off the ball and through poor defending the visitors scored two unconverted tries, 6-17.
To Marlborough’s credit, they didn’t buckle, instead they upped the tempo, the game began to get interesting, Banbury had to defend hard, Marlborough kept forcing them to make mistakes which the referee penalised them for. On the seventy fifth minute, Marlborough won an attacking line out in Banbury’s 22. The home side made good ground from the ensuing maul. After four excellent phases of play, loose head prop Lemeki Moala scored, Grant converted, 13-17.
The Marlborough supporters were holding their breath, could the boys do it? Marlborough kept pushing and pushing Banbury, but Banbury dug in and defended exceedingly well. In the final play of the game, Banbury turned the ball over in their own 22 and kicked the ball out of play for the win. Final score Marlborough 13 – Banbury 17.
There were some positives for Marlborough to take away, but the lads know they should have and could have won! They gave Banbury a game and have hopefully shaken them a little, they are vulnerable, and they can be beaten – there’s always next time when the lads go up to Banbury.