Marlborough Rugby: Rare high scoring draw at home against local rivals Devizes

Written by Mike Banfield.

Marlborough 33 - 33 Devizes

The early phases saw some scrappy phases of play as both teams tried to get the upper hand.  It was Devizes who got the first scores of the game with a converted try.  Marlborough responded with a try by Ratu Viura who was on for a blood replacement to scrum half Will Grant after a kick to the head.

However the visitors were making every effort to use the slope and kicking to corners.  A line out deep into the Marlborough 22 was lost and Devizes kicked through and although it looked like they knocked on the loose ball was gathered and the visitors scored.  The try was converted.

Five minutes later Devizes scored again, a kick through was fumbled and the loose ball was hacked on again for the visitors to take a 17-5 lead.  Coach Chris Budgen urged his men to cut out the mistakes and play simple rugby.

After an exchange of penalties, to make it 8-20, Marlborough finally started to show their attacking play.  Although the scrum was going backwards, number 8 Inosi Laqekoro picked up and made a good break.  The ball was moved out to Viura who drew the covering defence to pass inside to Tauyavu Bativagone to score.

Although the conversion was missed the home team were soon on the attack again and won a penalty in front of the posts which James Clancy kicked.  That appeared to be it for the half but in the last moments of the half Devizes worked the territory again and scored a converted try for a 16-27 half time score.

Marlborough were disappointed with themselves to have got back into the game and then gifted a try.

There were strong words at half time and also from non playing half backs James Farrell and Amori Nailago.

Now playing with the advantage of the slope Marlborough looked to try and close the points gap.  Wing Viura once again used his pace to make in roads into the Devizes defence.  After one run he was well tackled but a knock by the visitors gave a scrum which again Laqekoro picked up and drove forward, the phases developed and prop Lotu Ngungutau broke free, handed off the defence and scored.  Clancy converted for 23-27.

Marlborough had now raised their game.  A charging run by Bativagone again threatened, unfortunately he knocked on in the tackle.  The scrum resulted in a foot up free kick against Devizes.  Jake Williams who had moved to scrum half took a quick tap and surprised the defence to run in unchallenged.  Clancy converted for 30-27. Marlborough now led for the first time in the game.

However, instead of trying to close the game out, Marlborough again looked to attack at any chance, a mistake led to a ruck infringement and Devizes kicked the penalty.

The last 5 minutes were tense and number of penalties were being awarded.  Both sides had chances to score and some mistakes were made.  Clancy kicked a good penalty from wide out on the right to give a 33-30.

However, moments later they handled in the ruck to give Devizes a penalty that was also kicked to level at 33-33.

The draw was probably a fair result but the home side were left to rue the mistakes that were made.