Sat 3 Feb 2018
Great effort by the Saddlebacks but not enough to stop Fijian juggernauts
Devizes hosted Marlborough for the second time in 4 weeks after a 31-10 defeat up on the Common in early January. Devizes welcomed Rhys Harries back into the back row and Tim Alchin for the injured Lewis Paget and Craig Bryant. Sam Jones came onto the wing in the only other change in the back line. Marlborough were looking to do the double over Devizes and had to work hard for their victory.
From the off, Devizes showed great passion and commitment but were outdone early on as a Marlborough counter attack saw one of their Fijians backs dart in over the try line out wide to make it 5-0.
The response from the Saddlebacks was excellent and they duly started to control proceedings. Fly half Rory Brown missed a relatively straightforward penalty after 10 minutes, but reduced the arrears moments later as Marlborough were reduced to fourteen men for a repeated offence. Devizes were managing to make some good plays with full back Chris Barter kicking well and with the visitors making uncharacteristic errors, Devizes had another penalty with Brown edging Devizes in front.
The effort and work rate from all fifteen Devizes players was outstanding and the scrums much improved after some challenges in recent weeks. The players were further rewarded as Brown converted another penalty to extend the lead to 9-5. Rhys Harries unfortunately took a blow to a shoulder so the dependable Luke Moore came in on the flank.
Just before the break however, the visitors making inroads into Devizes territory, found a small gap around the fringes of a ruck for the Fijian number eight to dot down. With the try converted this was a blow and unlucky given Devizes’ first half efforts.
Turning round, playing up the slight incline in the second half, the visitors started the stronger and despite some phenomenal defence by Devizes, the defence ran out of numbers as Marlborough went in wide again to make it 17-9.
Still making significant dents in the Marlborough game plan, Devizes kicked for the corner to try and get a foothold back into the match, however some excellent maul defence by the visitors kept the Saddlebacks at bay.
This proved pivotal as the final twenty minutes saw Marlborough score a further three scores as the game started to open up and the visitors offloading game brought rewards. Gideon Hunter and debutant Harvey Schorah came on and but in some huge defence, however the visitors are not top of the league for no reason and scored their best try last from a well worked lineout move to make it 36-9.
A perhaps slightly flattering score line with Devizes going toe to toe with Marlborough who are still top of the league, ahead of both Sherborne and Trowbridge.
Next weekend, Devizes host Walcot in the only fixture in Southern Counties South.
Devizes 1st XV:
1. Wilkinson (16. Hunter, 59) 2. Hutchings 3. Randall 4. C.Paget 5. Alchin 6. Harries (17. Moore, 23) 7. Martin 8. Gould (c) 9. Bramwell 10. Brown 11. Orwin 12. Wadman (18. Schorah, 59) 13. Dodds 14. Jones 15. Barter
Penalty kicks: Brown (14), (21), (30)
Man of the Match: Seb Hutchings