Sat 6 Jan 2018
Marlborough’s first half blitz paves the way for derby success against Devizes
Devizes travelled to Marlborough for the second time this season, the earlier fixture in the calendar at the end of October was abandoned due to a neck injury to Devizes centre Sam Jones. Due to Devizes cup semi-final against Sherborne coupled with the unfortunate death of a Melksham 2s player in November, this weekend was the next available date for the sides to renew their rivalry. Devizes were bolstered with skipper and number eight Josh Gould coming back into the pack, whilst tighthead Matt Bishop was unavailable through injury, therefore Ben Wilkinson continued at loosehead with the adaptable Toby Randall shifting to tighthead. The backs who had been severely depleted in recent weeks, saw Jorge Wadman return to partner Lewis Dodds in the centres, John Bramwell returned at scrum half and Chris Barter came back into the side at full back.
The opening exchanges were hotly contested, however after a few moments it was Marlborough who went over in the corner out wide. In the process of trying to make a try saving tackle, Devizes wing Matty Holloran suffered a gash to his hand and was instantly withdrawn. Marlborough added the extras. Devizes had to rejig with the evergreen Tim Alchin coming on and flanker Rhys Harries moving into the back line.
Devizes controlled the game for the next ten minutes or so and did everything but score. Marlborough cleared their lines into the wind and a fortunate bounce over the head of Devizes wing Matt Strong alluded the remainder of the Devizes defence and one of the Marlborough Fijian backs gladly sprinted home to score their second of the day. This was also converted. For much of the remainder of the half Devizes battled well, but lacked that cutting edge. Marlborough had one final foray into Devizes territory and went over after a series of scrums on the Devizes five metre line. 21-0 at the break. Things worsened for the Saddlebacks as both Rory Brown and Ben Wilkinson went off after a collision, therefore Devizes exhausted all substitutes with Russ Hudson and Julian Taylor coming on.
The second half saw Devizes play into the wind and up the slope, however with a renewed sense of vigour dominated the second forty with some fine rugby and strong carries. Josh Gould was nearly in only yo be tackled into touch, before Craig Bryant dummied his way through the tackle and offloaded to the supporting Gould to over in the corner to make it 21-5. Devizes with their tails up won a number of penalties and Marlborough were starting to feel the pressure with one of their Fijian forwards sent to the sin bin. Devizes continued to batter away and it was Matt Strong who found a large gap in the Marlborough defence to weave through. A couple of phases later prop Toby Randall found himself in the unfamiliar position on the wing to go over to make it 21-10. Game on.
In the final ten minutes Devizes continued to compete ferociously and had an opportunity to make it a one game score, however Marlborough went up the other end after making a break out wide and subsequent phases saw the defence caught narrow for one of their replacement props to go over. Again converted this took the game completely away from the Saddlebacks. To finish things, Marlborough converted a penalty in the dying moments to leave it 31-10.
This was a physical encounter and a compelling derby in extremely cold conditions for spectators and backs alike. The second half revival was solid and Devizes deserved something from the game. Based on this performance, Devizes showed promising signs in their performance compared to those heavy defeats at Trowbridge and Corsham.
Next weekend Devizes host Blandford in a match they will be looking to win.
Devizes 1st XV
1. Wilkinson (16. Hudson, (30)) 2. Hutchings 3. Randall 4. C. Paget 5. L. Paget 6. Harries 7. Bryant 8. Gould (c) 9. Bramwell 10. Brown (18. Taylor, (30)) 11. Holloran (17. Alchin, (4)) 12. Wadman 13. Dodds 14. Strong 15. Barter
Player of the match: Craig Bryant