Marlborough Rugby: Heads held high in narrow cup final defeat

Written by Mike Banfield.

Side step and another superb display from Amori NailagoSide step and another superb display from Amori NailagoMarlborough 16 - 17 North Dorset

Marlborough narrowly lost the 1st XV Cup final on Saturday against North Dorset after dramatically missing a penalty in the last minute.  North Dorset had taken an early lead from a catch and drive at a lineout.  A tight game was then altered by the sending off of Marlborough prop and head Coach, Chris Budgen after an intervention by the linesman.  The harsh decision certainly affected the Marlborough set piece but is to the credit of the whole team to play 60 minutes with an influential player off the pitch.

Avenai Cakaunitavuki taking on his opponentAvenai Cakaunitavuki taking on his opponentThe only other score of the first half was a penalty by full back Nathan Morgan.  The kick right on half time made the half time score 5 -3 to the Dorset side.

The second half remained tight.  Marlborough scored next after some great work by centre Jamie Laing to set up Pita Robanakadavu.  The winger has shown some great finishing this season and did so again to put the Wiltshire side in front witrh Morgan getting the extras for a 10-5 lead. 

The Dorset side then answered with a try of their own to once again take the lead and a scoreline of 12-10.  The Wiltshire side stepped up their game and once again outside half Amori Nailago really started to get his side going.  Nailago was getting great support from his centres Laing and Avenai Cakaunitavuki.  The midfield trio playing some superb rugby.  The side were pushing for the next score and on one attack where it looked like they were about to score, a pass from Morgan was intercepted and North Dorset ran in for an unconverted try. 

Breaking through is James FarrellBreaking through is James FarrellThis made the score 17-10.  The Marlborough pack had been determined throughout the day and playing with one less player too,  the performance of number 8 Lario Tuliva deserves huge praise in getting the team and in particular the midfield some decent ball to work with.  The work rate of the team was earning them penalties and Morgan kicked two to once again bring the scores close at 17-16.  In the last minute of the game Morgan had a kick to win it and agonisingly the wind affected kick just missed.

Congratulations go to North Dorset on their cup win and every success as they progress into the next rounds of the national competition.  As for Marlborough they can take huge confidence in the spirit and determination of the side.  The team have huge potential and some very exciting players.  Next week the club hosts 2 games at home followed by the players Christmas meal.