Marlow Beat Aylesbury in a Game of Two Halves
By Tim Platt
Fortunately we already had enough points on the board before Aylesbury started to claw their way back into the game.
Match was played with a strong southerly breeze which meant a significant proportion of the game took place in the northern half of the pitch.
We had a much changed back line from the match against Wallingford. However, the pack remained largely unchanged with only Max Roberts missing, due to injury. He was replaced by Curran McMillan.
Aylesbury started strongly, with a clear game plan, to play route one rugby utilising they collection of very large forwards. With cries of ‘stay tight’ from the Aylesbury coach, they tried to make yards straight up the middle. However, our line speed and great collective effort, from the pack especially, not only thwarted their attacks but actually drove the big lads backwards. After 7 minutes of assault from the Aylesbury attack we finally got into their half and earned a penalty, which Nick Carvey duly kicked cleanly. 0-3
Again, the big Aylesbury forwards came at us and got to within a meter of our Try line, but our great defence meant they were unable to progress any further, although eventually we succumbed to the pressure and Ben Smith was yellowed carded for infringing in the red zone. Rather than taking a penalty kick attempt Aylesbury decided to go for a 5m scrum which proved to be the wrong decision as we were more than a match for their pack in the set piece, and an Aylesbury infringement allowed us to clear our lines.
A great kick from Nick Carvey, not to be the only one of the match, got us up to the halfway line. A clean throw in and a beautiful diagonal run by Mile Noble cut open the Aylesbury defence. The full back managed to stop Miles, but not before he had off loaded to Jack Rider, who found himself in quite a bit of traffic. He saw there was acres of space on the right-hand side of the pitch and put a cross field chip into it. Right idea, but unfortunately, we didn’t get to the ball first, and the opportunity was gone.
However, it did signal a change in the game and a purple patch for us, for the rest of the half. Aylesbury gave their guests the freedom of the city, as they were unable to stop our Backs slicing through their defences and skipping around, not only their big lads, but their back line as well.
On 22 minutes Aylesbury gave away another penalty and Nick Carvey stepped up to add another 3 points. 0-6
From the Aylesbury kick off Ian Thomson caught the ball and made a clean break straight up the middle, with Aylesbury back peddling fast, Ian offloaded to Nick Carvey who made more ground before he also offloaded to Daniel Hostetler. Daniel made it over the Try line but was adjudged to have been held up. Giving us a 5m scrum.
The pack held firm and with quick ball to Nick Gorham, who forced his way over in the corner. 0-11 Nick Carvey only just missed the Conversion, kicking diagonally across the wind, from right on the touchline.
Although Aylesbury won a turnover, they kicked to nowhere, Nick Carvey caught the ball, sidestepped 2 defenders and scored, but he was unable to add his own Conversion, again from a tricky angle. 0-11
Only 3 minutes later we sliced open the Aylesbury defence again, this time it was Anthony Lawless getting the Try, after the pack had won the Aylesbury lineout. This time Nick Carvey got the kick just right. The ball ballooned into the air and hung in the breeze for what seemed like ages and then accelerated between the posts. 0-18
Aylesbury finally looked like they would make us pay, when some loose play allowed the biggest lad on the pitch to make a clean break, with only Anthony Lawless in his way to the Try line. But, fortunately, one of the smallest men on the pitch timed his tackle perfectly and although Aylesbury retained possession, they were only able to make a cross field kick and then incurred a penalty in what appeared to be frustration at their inability to break our defence. To add insult to injury Nick Carvey made an enormous kick from hand which went into touch well inside the Aylesbury half, but we were unable to take advantage of the territory and the half came to an end.
Half Time 0-23
We started the 2nd half the way we had finished the first. With the Try of the match. Aylesbury kicked down field and it was caught by Anthony Lawless 10m from our own Try line. He sliced between 2 Aylesbury players ran to the halfway line and offloaded to Samuel Hindley, who had come on to replace Cameron Denton, before he was tackled. Samuel charged well inside the Aylesbury half before offloading to Marcus Mercer. Marcus eventually made it over the line and dotted down, despite the efforts of 2 Aylesbury defenders. In truth, it would have been an easier Try had he passed back to Samuel Hindley who had shadowed Marcus all the way to the line and provided a clear 2 man overlap, Anthony Lawless being on the outside as well. Anyway, all’s well that ends well, and it brought up the Try Bonus Point. 0-28
Although we had scored 4 relatively easy Tries, without reply, you never got the impression Aylesbury were completely down and out, especially in such windy conditions which always add an element of unpredictability to the game. Also, we started to have the air of a team that thought the game was already over, even though there was still 35 minutes to play. We also lost Jack Rider to an injury. He was replaced by Cameron Denton.
The next 5-10 minutes were pretty scrappy with both sides making lots of mistakes and giving away penalties which culminated in 2 players getting yellow carded after a fracas in a ruck. An Aylesbury player for fighting, and Ian Thomson for offering punishment advice to the Referee, which he decided was unsportsmanlike conduct. As a result he also turned over the penalty decision in favour of Aylesbury, and it led to a turning point in the match. .
Aylesbury kicked for touch and from the resulting Throw In finally broke our defensive line and scored in the left-hand corner. 5-23 Their full back now found out that place kicking in such windy conditions wasn’t that easy.
There was still just under 20 minutes to play, and from this point on it was all Aylesbury and we were very much under the cosh. Eddy Smyth came on to replace Jack Goss – to bolster the pack in the closing stages. For the last 15 minutes we got very little procession and even when we did every referring decision seemed to go against us. Aylesbury also switched from trying to use their big lads up the middle to placing them further out wide and, as a result, our Backs struggled to stop their carries. However, everyone battled hard and despite the fact that we spent the final 10 minutes well inside our own 25m we restricted them to 2 further Tries. Fortunately, it was simply too little too late for Aylesbury as they ran out of time.
Final Score 15-28
Tries: Nick Gorham, Nick Carvey, Anthony Lawless, Marcus Mercer
Conversions: Nick Carvey
Penalties: Nick Carvey (2)
1 Chris Clarke 2 Daniel Hostetler 3 Jack Goss 4 Ben Smith 5 Jack Henderson 6 Ian Thomson 7 Curran McMillan 8 William Reynolds 9 Jack Rider 10 Nick Carvey 11 Nick Gorham 12 Miles Noble 13 Marcus Mercer 14 Cameron Denton 15 Anthony Lawless.
16 Eddy Smyth 17 Jack Spurr 18 Samuel Hindley