Marlborough College bounced back from their defeat to Wellington College last week with a hard fought home victory over St Edwardâ€™s Oxford on Thursday.
It was a tight and tense affair for much of the game, the scores were tied at 3-3 at half time, but Marlborough showed excellent patience and composure against what was probably a physically more imposing side to win 18-11.
The game was a slow burner, a tense a tight affair with some powerful running from the St Edwardâ€™s forwards and beautiful handling from the Marlborough College backs and forwards alike, with a running set of half backs there was always a sense that they could create if given the chance.
It took until the 50th minute though for Marlborough to pick their way through the St Edwardâ€™s defence. Both sides had had spells of heavy pressure but exceptional work at the breakdown had seen it all come to nothing, bar an early second half St Edwardâ€™s penalty to make it 6-3 to the away side.
In that 50th minute though the St Edwardâ€™s defence was beautifully, and spectacularly ripped apart. Teddies sent down a booming clearance kick straight down the middle of the park and the Marlborough full back fielded it well before immediately shifting the ball to his left.
It did not look particularly threatening, Marlborough were deep in their own half and the St Edwardâ€™s chase was decent enough, but fast hands a subtle footwork saw them create some space wide on the left for their extremely fast and very slippery winger. He streaked away down the left hand side, at first looking like an exhilarating break before suddenly, as he approached the 22, looking like a genuine try scoring opportunity as he seemed to gather even more speed as he crossed the whitewash.
Â It put Marlborough 8-6 ahead and was the spark that the game needed, the catalyst for a real injection of tempo into the game from both sides.
Injuries hit St Edwardâ€™s, forcing them to move their hooker out to inside centre, it was not such a bad thing, his carrying had been a threat all day and the idea of a bit of distance to get himself up to speed was an exciting one.
Unfortunately from the away perspective a yellow card soon followed and Marlborough capitalised expertly. Working their way into the 22 before earning a second penalty, which they moved fast and wide, knowing the overlap would be there as they raced over to extend their advantage.to 13-6. It was a deserved score, since their opening try Marlborough had been on top having had a slightly shaky period at the start of the half, they were now on a roll and their running game was looking threatening.
That skill from both backs and forwards with the ball in hand was about to be shown in glorious fashion. Running down the right hand side Marlboroughâ€™s fly half chipped ahead, the bounce was unlucky though, it looked to be running away into touch as his big second row hounded after it, that said, a five-metre lineout would be no disaster. However the chasing man had other ideas, tip-toeing down the touchline he stuck out a big paw to gather in the ball before it ran out before squeezing inside the touchline to score. It was a truly incredible piece of finishing, all the more so for being from a second row, quite how both he and the ball managed to stay infield was unbelievable, but infield they most certainly were.
That was the final nail in the coffin for St Edwardâ€™s, not only on the scoreboard, which read 18-6, but also in terms of time on the clock and confidence. A try like that is hard to recover from when scored against you, and with less than five minutes to go, time was not their friend.
St Edwardâ€™s did manage to get themselves back on the scoreboard with the final play of the game though, following a nasty looking Marlborough head injury that fortunately turned out not to be serious.
It was that hooker come centre, barrelling over in the corner to make the score 18-11 to Marlborough College on the final whistle. It was a deserved score though. Marlborough had been the better side and deserved the win but it had been a close game and a well fought one, and St Edwardâ€™s deserved the scoreboard to reflect that.
Both sides now have the weekend off before St Edwardâ€™s pick up again on the 4th October against Clifton College and Marlborough College play Sherborne on the same weekend. On this evidence, you would expect both to be close.
Full Time: Marlborough College 18-11 St Edwardâ€™s, Oxford
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