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

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.

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Hockey: It rained & rained & Marlborough ladies' game at Swanage ended in a four-all draw

Lottie Colquhoun - Marlborough News Online player of the matchLottie Colquhoun - Marlborough News Online player of the matchSwanage       4        Marlborough      4

On Saturday (November 19) Marlborough ladies travelled to play fellow mid-table team Swanage.   On the back of two strong wins they had their sights firmly set on making that three in a row.

The pre-match pep talk was conducted in the changing rooms as the rain hammered down outside.

Marlborough started the stronger of the two sides ploughing into the Swanage half and applying wave after wave of pressure, but the all important first goal evaded the visitors.

Swanage suddenly came to life and started moving the ball around themselves trying to find gaps in the Marlborough midfield and putting pressure on the defence. The play bounced back and forth from the Marlborough end to the Swanage end with both goalkeepers called upon to make crucial saves.

What happened next left Marlborough reeling: THREE Swanage goals in the space of about 15 minutes.   Two came from free play in the goalmouth and the third from a nasty bouncing short corner shot which just sneaked inside the post.

The rain came down more heavily as the whistle blew for half time.

After an inspiring team talk at half time, Marlborough left the pain of the first half behind them and showed Swanage they were not down or out.

Every member of the Marlborough team came out fighting and the team spirit was incredible. Marlborough upped the ante and won a short corner.  With a well worked routine Neve Beer calmly slotted in a goal.

The rain fell ever more heavily, but Marlborough started playing their own style of hockey.  The defence held firm, the midfield feeding the forwards who in turn worked tirelessly passing the ball and peppering the Swanage goal and finally the ball went in thanks to Catherine Manley's dogged persistence.

Now Swanage were getting worried and so they should as Lottie Colquhoun in a one on one with the keeper brought the score level - three goals each. The rain continued to bucket down, but Marlborough smelled victory and Swanage were in no mood to lose the game.

The drenched spectators on the sidelines willed their sides on. Swanage managed to make a couple of solo runs into Marlborough's D - each one snubbed out efficiently by the ever vigilant and determined Vicky Moxham in goal. Then just when Marlborough thought they were getting the upper hand, Swanage managed to sneak a shot just inside the Marlborough post.  

Less than 10 minutes to go and Marlborough piled on the pressure once more.  With Milly Dawson putting on a determined performance in front of goal only to watch her first shot saved...she then smashed the rebound into the back of the net. Four goals each and so the game ended.

The Marlborough News Online player of the match went to Lottie Colquhoun who worked tirelessly making attacked after attack.

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Hockey: Marlborough men continue assault on promotion with seventh consecutive win - and a Rich Fynn hat-trick

Mid Somerset       2         Marlborough     5

Marlborough's first team made the journey to Mid Somerset (November 12) knowing it is a venue where they have failed to perform in previous years.

Marlborough set out their game plan to press high to win the ball and attack with speed, this was demonstrated brilliantly with the opening goals scored by the impressive John Berry. The ball was won by Chris Jones who passed to Alex Renwick who in turn moved the ball on to John Berry who drove hard through middle of the pitch, exchanged passes with Rich Fynn and accelerated to deflect the ball in at the back post.

Marlborough's dominance continued through the opening twenty minutes and their lead was extended when Will Hughes won the ball high up the pitch and squared it to Alex Renwick at the top of the circle, he allowed the ball to come across his body and then unleashed on his reverse.

Marlborough's lead was extended to three when they carved open the Mid Somerset defence with some fantastically incisive passing - once again RIch Fynn and John Berry combined in the attacking twenty-five. John Berry carried the ball expertly across his body to draw the final defender in before playing the ball on his reverse across goal for Rich Fynn to deflect past the keeper.

Unfortunately it was not all plain sailing for Marlborough and to their credit Mid Somerset started to come back into the game. Following a poor period of passing from Marlborough, Mid Somerset won the ball and broke to win a short corner. The score was pegged back to 3-1 when their forward fired the ball into the corner of the goal, hitting half way up the sideboard.

Before half time Marlborough were able to restore the three goal cushion when Rich Fynn scored his second of the game. Marlborough transferred the ball well around the back to find Matt Way with space in front of him.

Rhys Davies made an unselfish lead wide to the left wing channel which opened up space for the inside ball to Rich Fynn. The covering defender managed to get a desperate touch on the ball, but a composed Rich Fynn got the ball out from between his feet and flicked it past the advancing keeper for the fourth goal.

The second half was a fairly scrappy affair with Mid Somerset playing a very direct brand of hockey which Marlborough coped with will through their disciplined front marking across the backline.

Unfortunately Marlborough were once again the architects of their own downfall when some sloppy passing in their own half allowed Mid Somerset to win the ball high up the pitch and force another short corner. Once again their forward took aim and found the corner of the goal with pin-point accuracy.

At 4-2 with the momentum against them, Marlborough of previous years might well have found a way to let the opposition back into the game. However this year there is a real belief in the side and they managed to put together a spell of possession which frustrated Mid Somerset as well as physically tiring them out.

From one of these passages of play Marlborough extinguished any hope of a comeback when Rich Fynn completed his hat-trick following an expertly taken deflection from between his feet which left the Mid Somerset keeper no chance.

The last ten minutes of the game petered out without any incident of note and the win now sees Marlborough sitting pretty at the top of the league with maximum points through their first seven games.

It is testament to the high standards being set that despite playing some excellent team hockey throughout the game (and scoring some cracking goals) they were somewhat disappointed that they didn't put the game out of sight earlier.

Marlborough News Online Man of the Match was rightly awarded to Rich Fynn for his superb work in front of goal.  But a special mention must go to John "I'll put it on a plate for you" Berry for his dynamic work and excellent decision making inside the attack half.

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Marlborough Rugby: Marlborough's unbeaten run continues with convincing away victory over Combe Down

Combe Down 7 - 33 Marlborough

The early phases of the game saw mistakes by both sides but the visitors were pressing and had spurned a couple of chances including a knock over the try line.  After 16 mins the ball broke loose at a ruck and flanker Inosi Laqekoro quickly gathered the ball, he drew the defender and put an inside pass to James Farrell who ran in and made sure of the touch down. James Clancy converted the try.

Combe Down missed a penalty opportunity before Marlborough got back on the attack and started to put some good phases together.  Farrell span a good pass out ot outside half Amori Nailago who dummied and stepped to beat the defensive line and run in and score. Another great try from Nailago this season and a player who will be missed by the club when he is posted to Cyprus. Clancy again converted.

As half time got near, Farrell again fed Nailago who this time made a blindside break and put in a good pass to Clancy who drew the full back and passed to wing Will Grant to score in the corner.  Again Clancy converted. Half time score 21-0.

The second half saw the temperature drop.  The home side were determined to get back into the game and apply some pressure.  This was helped by Marlborough trying to run the ball from everywhere. One such occasion saw Clancy isolated at a ruck and when the ball was lost, Combe Down moved the ball quickly and their flanker broke down the blind side to score a converted try.

Coach Chris Budgen urged his men to show more discipline and execute at the right times.  Marlborough tightened up their play and it was Combe Down who made a mistake in over throwing at a lineout Semisi Rasivo gathered the loose ball to make a charge up field.  Farrell was in support and took the ball to score under the posts.

Clancy converted. Farrell completed his hat trick when he robbed the ball off his opposite number at a scrum to break from the half way and run half the pitch to score.  Clancy missed the conversion for a 33-7 score line.

Another good win for Marlborough that was only marred by injuries to Josh Lynd (knee) and to Epeli Kotobalavu (eye) who had made a great debut performance.

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HOCKEY - LADIES: some half-term blues leave the greens with too much to do against City of Bath

City of Bath   4       Marlborough    2

A much depleted squad, due to half term commitments, made their way to City of Bath (October 22).

The team was bolstered with Imogen Bartlett and Emily Carter-Davies making their debut and Chloe Darlington stepping into Vicky Moxham's goalkeeping spot.

Marlborough were lucky to even have a starting eleven as some of the team forgot to get off the motorway at Bath and ended up in Bristol.

Marlborough started strongly with some great team play and attacking runs into the D. But unfortunately they did not manage to convert these runs into goals and with City of Bath breaking well, the Marlborough defence had to work hard.

A number of short corners were saved, but City of Bath managed to pass across the keeper and after a scrappy defence got the first goal. Marlborough started strongly again and managed to equalise courtesy of Ctaherine Manley.

Marlborough continued to play good hockey, but City of Bath were good on the break and play went from end to end. City of Bath scored a second goal and then, with two Marlborough players having been sent to the sin bin, a defensive mistake meant a penalty flick was awarded - making it 3-1.

A fired up Marlborough worked hard and attacked bringing the score back to 3-2 with another goal from Catherine Manley. With tiredness setting in, City of Bath managed to score another goal with a 4-2 result not totally reflecting the game.

Marlborough are now looking forward to having some home games having started the season playing four out of five games away from home.

The Marlborough News Online player of the match was Chloe Darlington.    

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Football: Swindon Spitfires soar in 6-3 win against Marlborough Ladies

Marlborough Town LadiesMarlborough Town LadiesSwindon Spitfires 6 Marlborough Town Ladies 3

Marlborough Town Ladies struggled in a 6-3 defeat against old rivals Swindon Spitfires on Sunday.

They began well, but were unable to maintain focus and discipline for the full 90 minutes.

Against a team as well-experienced as Spitfires, this cost them goals and ultimately, the game.

Despite the loss, there was some positive play from the ladies.

It was only a couple of minutes into the game when Dani Hull made a run down the left wing and scored.

Marlborough were spurred on by their early goal and played great football for the next twenty minutes. Unfortunately, a couple moments of tiredness and lack of concentration, resulted in two goals from the Spitfires, before the half was up.

Marlborough had a huge mountain to climb.

They worked hard and managed two great goals from Emily Bogg and Ffion Williams, but they couldn't bring the game back.

Marlborough's goalie, Robyn Hill, worked tirelessly to keep the Swindon strikers at bay. She made some amazing saves but was unable to stop all of the shots on target.

In the end, Swindon won the game with six skilful and well-worked goals.

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Hockey: Marlborough ladies are smiling with three 'beautiful points' against second in the table Team Bath Buccs 3

Marlborough         3       Team Bath Buccaneers 3        1


Marlborough ladies first team entertained Team Bath Buccaneers 3 - who held second place in the league table - and hoped to continue their winning streak on home turf.

From the first whistle the Green Army fought hard. The majority of the possession was held by Marlborough.  This resulted from a clear structure at the back where the defensive unit held their own - not allowing any balls to enter Marlborough's 25 for the first 10 minutes.

The structure was held through the pitch and was well communicated by Rachel Cox who played superbly in the middle using her high ball pace to distribute the ball up the pitch to the forward line.

Although Marlborough had the majority of the possession, the forwards struggled within the first 35 minutes to get the ball in the net. Team Bath Buccs were stiff competition and always looked menacing.  Their best chance came just before half time with a looping shot from a short corner which was aimed to sneak under the crossbar - fortunately stopped by a big goalkeeper glove.

The teams went into half time at nil all - and all to play for.

From the off Marlborough applied the pressure and the break finally came with a text book play starting from the back with a dream ball from Amy Davidson up the line which was nudged into the path of Lottie Colquhoun who calmly slotted it past the goalkeeper.

This gave Marlborough a boost and led to the team delivering more energy. Team Bath Buccs were defiant and upped their work rate trying to bring the scores even but Marlborough held firm.

Once more applying a strangling pressure on Buccs in their goalmouth, Jess Pugh slotted in following a one on one with the goalkeeper. 

Buccs didn't give up though and once again they came back fighting with goalkeeper Vicky Moxham called upon once more to make some fantastic saves off her line.

Marlborough then put the game beyond Team Bath Buccs' reach when Ness Pickford-Smith rocketed a shot into the back of the net from a text book short corner routine.  As the heavy legs started to kick in within the last minutes of the game Team Bath managed to grab a goal in the last minute making the final score 3-1.

The Ladies are now in fourth position in the East Division of the West Clubs Womens Hockey League - separated from Team Bath Buccs 3 by goal difference - but Buccs have a game in hand.

Marlborough News Online players of the match was jointly given to Jess Pugh along with all the very impressive juniors (Beth Palfrey, Annabel Ashley, Victoria Williams, Milly Dawson and Amy Davidson)

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Hockey: an excellent weekend for Marlborough men - still unbeaten after the season's first six fixtures

Eyes on the ball - a moment of danger in front of the Marlborough goalEyes on the ball - a moment of danger in front of the Marlborough goalMarlborough       5        City of Bath          2

Marlborough extended their 100 per cent record to five games with a comfortable victory over City of Bath (Saturday, November 5.)

The team welcomed Will Radnedge back to the team following his endeavours in the Under 18 Futures Cup last week, reaching the final and scoring a goal in the process was a fantastic achievement.

Marlborough started the game brightly, moving the ball well and looking to create space high up the pitch. The opening goal was created when Chris Jones won the ball just inside the Marlborough half before playing a series of passes down the right hand side of the pitch. This interchange of passing resulting in John Berry finding space inside the circle to fire the ball into the goal form a narrow angle.

Marlborough continued to control the first half and extended their lead when Rhys Davies lifted the ball over the onrushing keeper.

CIty of Bath did pose a threat on the break, all of their play coming from their defender either looking to carry the ball aggressively through the pitch or aerial the ball into space for his forwards. Marlborough defended the situation well, finding themselves under the ball on numerous occasions to win possession back.

A Marlborough shot just goes wide A Marlborough shot just goes wide   Stern words...Stern words...

Towards the end of the half, a City of Bath player was given a Green Card following a series of clumsy tackles, culminating in what can only be described as an 'Axe-chop' as captain Anil Sud cleverly lifted the ball into space outside their circle. Marlborough made it three when some quick thinking after a long corner, Will Radnedge found space to fire the ball into the net.

Marlborough continued to play the better hockey throughout the second half, working the ball well from half-backs into the middle of the pitch and building form there. This patient play was rewarded when Will Radnedge doubled his tally by turning the ball in at the back post.

At 4-0 up Marlborough seemed to lose some focus and allowed the opposition back into the game. City of Bath scored when a free hit awarded just outside the 25 was crashed into the circle by their defender. The ball took an unfortunate touch off a Marlborough stick leaving Brian Marnane no chance.

City of Bath continued to press forward and their 'Hero ball' brand of hockey was rewarded when the very same defender eventually managed to escape numerous Marlborough challenges. He carried the ball well through four Marlborough players and fired the ball into the roof of the net from the top of the circle.

This seemed to rally Marlborough back to their best hockey- they began to move the ball with more pace and managed to advance the ball forward to create several scoring opportunities, the game was eventually put to bed when Will Hughes received the ball with his back to goal, span onto his strong side and played the ball into the far corner of the goal.

Marlborough were pleased with the result, played some excellent hockey and scored some cracking team goals.

Marlborough News Online Man of the Match was awarded to Rich Holman for some extremely composed defending.


Bristol University B      1        Marlborough      2

Marlborough continued their push for promotion by picking up a valuable away win over fellow high flyers Bristol University B (Sunday, November 6.)

Marlborough's fifteen man squad made the familiar drive along the M4 knowing the match would be very different from the day before where all of the opposition's play came from a single player.

The game started with both teams showing each other respect but Bristol Uni making the better of the play with neat interchanges of passing. During the opening spell Brian Marnane was forced into a couple of reaction saves which kept the game level.  Marlborough began to grow into the game, but were just unable to connect with the final pass.

Half time arrived with the scores level and the game flowing well from end to end. At half time Marlborough made a tactical shift in their press to force the Bristol Uni defenders into playing higher risk passes in the hope of creating more turnovers. This plan worked well.

Unfortunately Marlborough fell behind when they lost concentration at a free hit just outside their circle, a lack of communication meant that no-one defended the route to goal and the Bristol forward was able to convert an uncontested shot from the edge of the circle.

Marlborough didn't let this moment dampen their spirits and began to press higher up the pitch, it was from one of these situations that Marlborough were able to draw level.   Matt Way started the move by throwing a cross-field aerial from a sideline hit to allow Rich Holman space to take the ball forward,  

The initial ball into the circle has half stopped but Anil Sud managed to pounce onto the loose ball and play it forward to the P spot where Matt Way was now waiting. He held off his defender, rolled onto his strong side and slipped the ball past the onrushing keeper.

Marlborough felt a real shift in momentum and fully believed that all three points were there to be won. They were proved right when a nice interchange of passing down the right hand side of the pitch allowed the ball to be played into the circle. As the ball came across it was redirected towards the back post where it was gratefully finished off by Mark Kinder.

Marlborough closed the game out without any further scares and now sit clear at the top of the table with six wins from six games.  It was an enjoyable game between well matched teams and played in good spirits throughout.

Marlborough News Online Man of the Match was shared by Freddie Hazlitt and Matt Way with Freddie Hazlitt winning on the re-vote for his excellent link play in only his second game for the first team.

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Hockey: Marlborough ladies delighted to take full points in convincing 5-1 home victory

Back L-R: Annabel Ashley, Victoria Williams, Beth Palfrey, Neve Beer, Catherine Manley, Emily Carter-Davies, Rachel Cox, Penny Bowen (capt), Anna Scott, Amy Davidson. Front L-R: Milly Dawson, Ness Pickford-Smith, Sarah Kendall, Vicky Moxham (capt), Jess Pugh, Lottie ColquhounBack L-R: Annabel Ashley, Victoria Williams, Beth Palfrey, Neve Beer, Catherine Manley, Emily Carter-Davies, Rachel Cox, Penny Bowen (capt), Anna Scott, Amy Davidson. Front L-R: Milly Dawson, Ness Pickford-Smith, Sarah Kendall, Vicky Moxham (capt), Jess Pugh, Lottie ColquhounAfter a run of bad luck which has seen Marlborough take home only one point from the last four matches, a win on home soil against Wimborne Wayfarers was crucial, and the ladies in green were hungry for victory.

After fending off an early attack from the travelling side, Marlborough were soon in control, putting the Wayfarers defence under constant pressure with some fast and flowing offensive play.

In a bizarre episode in Marlborough’s attacking D, a Wayfarers defender caught a lifted ball in front of goal - as happens to test cricketers - and Marlborough were unlucky not to be awarded a penalty flick.

They kept up the pressure and their patience was soon rewarded after Lottie Colquhoun came off the bench to slot the first goal home from the left post.

A second goal quickly followed, with the pace of Milly Dawson, Jess Pugh and Catherine Manley up front proving too much for the Wayfarers defensive line. Jess finished in style from close range making it two-nil up to the greens.

With the home team growing in confidence, Marlborough closed the first half demonstrating the best hockey they have played all season, with some excellent attacking play up the flanks from half-backs Tori Williams, Annabel Ashley and Amy Davidson, and some killer balls distributed from the ever-dependable Rachel Cox in the centre of the park.

Neve Beer chases a loose ball [click to enlarge]Neve Beer chases a loose ball [click to enlarge]  Lottie Colquhoun makes a runLottie Colquhoun makes a run  Escape for Marlborough as short corner ball ends up on top of the nettingEscape for Marlborough as short corner ball ends up on top of the netting

Keen to put clear water between themselves and the opposition, Marlborough looked the keener side early in the second half. After some excellent displays of passing hockey, orchestrated by the ‘link-men’ Ness Pickford-Smith and Penny Bowen, goal number three was quickly on the board.

This one came from a turnover won convincingly by Tori Williams, who coolly fired the ball down the right to give Lottie Colquhoun her second of the game. Jess Pugh followed suite with her second, calmly slotting a penalty flick away after finding a Wayfarer’s foot on the goal line.

That's Jess' goalThat's Jess' goal  Vicky makes a...Vicky makes a...  ...a great save...a great save

It didn’t all go Marlborough’s way however, with Emily Carter-Davies and Beth Palfrey rallying the defence and goalkeeper Vicky Moxham demonstrating her cat-like reactions with some heroic saves to keep the Wayfarers off the score sheet.

Sadly, Ness Pickford-Smith’s over-enthusiastic tackling caught the eye of the umpire, attracting a green card and, never one to be left out, Janeve Beer quickly joined her on the naughty step for the same offence.

Down to nine players, Marlborough fought hard, but the numerical advantage proved too much and the Wayfarer’s scored a well-earned goal.

With both players out of the sin-bin, Marlborough were once more in control, leaving Catherine Manley to put the icing on the cake of a very successful morning’s hockey - final score 5-1 to Marlborough. 

Marlborough News Online player of the match was awarded to an on fire Lottie Colquhoun.


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HOCKEY: fresh faces in Marlborough men's first team and still they score a resounding win

Robinsons B   1      Marlborough    4

Marlborough Hockey Club's first men's team went into this fixture on the back of a week's break to allow many of the team to celebrate the wedding of (former?) first team player Ed Gosling and Kat Fuller:  Congratulations!

It was a very different looking Marlborough team who travelled to Badminton school for a 3pm push back in the Bristol gloom (October 29.) First team debuts were given to Freddie Hazlitt, Mark Kinder, Mark Ramage with Charlie Ponder making a return to the team.

This turn around of players showed in Marlborough's early play with lots of turnovers happening with the final pass being slightly misplaced. Rather surprisingly Marlborough took an early lead following some good interplay down the right hand side of the pitch, the initial shot hit the far post and Rich Fynn reacted quickest to put the ball into the empty net.

Marlborough began to settle into the game and extended their lead when returning captain Anil Sud found space inside the circle to finish well at the back post.

Unfortunately Marlborough's turnovers began to creep back into their play with uncharacteristic errors being made, it was from one of these that Robinsons narrowed Marlborough lead.   Following a swing and a miss by a Robinson forward, the Marlborough defenders expecting the whistle to be blown. But the forward proceeded to slot the ball into the corner.

Marlborough rallied well from this and put together a period of pressure which ultimately resulted in Mark Ramage firing the ball past the keeper to take a score 3-1 into the half-time break.

Marlborough knew they hadn't played their best hockey and so began the second half confidently, they kept the ball much more successfully in the second half and started to control the game.

Robinsons continued to threaten on the counter but controlled front marking from Rich Holman and Charlie Ponder kept their chances to a minimum. Marlborough put the game to bed with ten minutes to go when Rich Fynn once again showed his forward instincts by latching onto a rebound from the keeper and finishing the ball well into the corner of the goal.

While Marlborough never really played the sort of hockey they are capable of, winning the game in such a clinical manner with a large number of changes to the team shows the strength in depth of this year's squad.

They go into next weekend's double header knowing two wins from those games would see them sitting comfortably at the top of the league.

The Marlborough News Online Man of the Match was awarded to debutant Mark Kinder for his work rate through the midfield and excellent distribution to create several scoring opportunities

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Marlborough Rugby: Marlborough triumph in close and entertaining match at home to Blandford

Marlborough 17 - 15 Blandford

Marlborough won a closely fought and entertaining game to maintain their unbeaten league run.  

The early phases saw the away team putting the pressure on, but a good break out by outside half James Farrell put his team on the attack.  He kicked ahead and the kick stopped just short of the line, the Blandford defender fumbled the ball and Russ Westcott pounced on the loose ball to score the try.  It was unconverted.

Blandford responded with a penalty.  The game was tight and both sides were defending well.  A number of handling errors by both teams were also causing breakdowns.  The half ended 5-3.

The second half saw the Blandford full back showing excellent kicking form to put over a further 3 penalties due to some quick decisions by the ref at rucks.  The visitors certainly had their tails up and were leading 12-5.

An altercation at a ruck meant both sides had players sin binned.  The influential Farrell for the home team looked to be the bigger loss.  

As the away team tried to launch another attack, a looping pass was intercepted by James Clancy who was able to run in 50 metres to score under the posts and convert his own try.  The scores were once again even.

Marlborough quickly went on the attack again and good handling skills by prop Feiloaki Ngungutau led to a break by Waisale Navunidakua, he burst through the defence and set up full back Garth Bari to score out wide.

Scores were now 17-12.  Blandford were not done though and attacked again, Marlborough captain Jack Lynd was sin binned for obstruction as Blandford looked to attack.  They took the penalty and scored, 17-15.

A tense few minutes were in store, as the game entered the final moments, First Marlborough had a penalty opportunity that was missed and then right at the end Blandford again won a penalty, but their kicker also missed and the game ended 17-15.

It was a tight game that could have gone either way and great credit to the visitors but a strong team performance from Marlborough to keep up their run.

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