MAIDENHEAD 7 --12 MARLOW
Academy win again! Great Result - Great Squad!
Maidenhead hosted a top of the table clash, both teams putting their unbeaten league record on the line.
Both teams had lost players in key positions to the SW County game, so a big opportunity for both to show their strength across their squads.
In the warm up we almost lost Finn Duiguid due to start at 9, with Maso starting for the first 5-10 before Finn (now strapped up) joined the proceedings. (Almost simultaneously, Seb Clarke was to limp off too, so reshuffles aplenty!)
Marlow would receive the first kick off and playing into the wind, and confidently went through multiple phases, making 'easy' yards. Even at the early stage I was confident that we would win, if we managed the game well enough. We had great belief and cohesion in our play and didn't look like we would be out-muscled.
That is not to say it would be easy, and it was far from it. Maidenhead pressed hard from some territorial advantage but Marlow's defence was simply AWESOME, and would be all day, holding out multiple thrusts and driving back their lumpy carriers. Heroic.
Eager to get something for their efforts, Maidenhead opted for a long range penalty, perhaps in respect of the gladiatorial defence we threw at them, Luke Funnel to the fore in a MoM performance. The kick missed.
We scrambled well and slowed the ball at a highly competitive breakdown. Finn Selman was yellow carded for being off his feet at the ruck, described as hitting the ground beyond the ball first before latching onto the ball to slow or jackal. Possibly a harsh YC for him and probably taking one for the team after a few other infringements deep in our red zone.
It was almost a soft try then to concede from a scrum close in, as Maidenhead then switched to the shorter side, freeing their winger to round on the outside and getting close enough to the posts to ease the conversion. 7-0 down.
Marlow maintained possession exceptionally well all day, and from a period of concerted pressure were awarded a pen under the sticks. They had a player also then sent to bin for that infringement, and we opted for a scrum (rather than an easy 3), and backed out retention, which 3 phases later payed off with Tom Asplin finishing strongly wide right. Freddie Lewis then added an exceptional touch line conversion against the wind to level it at 7-7. Heck of a score line into a wind.
Second half, more of the same. We attacked the close fringes and kept the ball. We maybe could have played more territory and a few mistakes kept them within a sniff. However we did clear our lines well and with the lineout functioning beautifully in a tricky wind, we made good ground and maintained possession. From phases and into their 22 we peppered their line before then switching short left, with good hands to release Nick Spicer to crash over. Extras narrowly missed from the left hand touch line. 12-7.
Once again the subs added energy without any drop in attitude and aggression. This squad had great belief in each other now.
Whilst this was the final score of the game, it was a brutal contest up front. The end of the game epitomised this, with all eyes on Gabe (on as a sub) dangerously dump tackled onto his head/neck. Their player was eventually yellow carded, perhaps more was due. With (another) hand bag exchange, in the surrounds we also had James Forsyth floored by a heavy knock from behind. (News is that Gabe is ok, and James awaiting assessment at A&E)
So onwards we march, winning rugby in many different styles and against tough opponents. We should now top the league! (Though play each home and away, so plenty more to play for). But 2 AWAY wins in the league against always tough A&C and Maidenhead, and last year's winner Chinnor speaks volumes!!)
Great result - Great squad
Maidenhead 7 - Marlow 12