Marlow kicks off campaign with defensively dominant win over Wallingford – Photo 1 of 1
Marlow 30, Wallingford 7
Marlow was superior in almost every aspect – but particularly defensively – as they swept Wallingford 30-7 at Riverwoods to start their Counties 1 Tribute Southern North campaign with an encouraging victory.
The match at Riverwoods took place on Saturday afternoon on the advice of the RFU for the teams to come together and play their matches in honor of Queen Elizabeth II, who died at Balmoral Castle on Thursday.
Although he hasn’t played many pre-season games, due to dry and hard pitches this summer, Marlow looked strong and fit as he controlled this encounter from the start and looked to show his authority in the first exchanges.
In truth, they should have won by a bigger margin, however, head coach Rory Greenslade-Jones will be more than happy with the dominating victory in bonus points.
Defensively they were excellent, forcing their visitors to fight and fight just to get closer to their 22.
To illustrate how Wallingford struggled to score points, the only time they managed to break through Marlow’s defense – after being pushed back countless times near the line – one of their players was physically ill as the players trudged back to their half.
It was a difficult afternoon for the visitors, and the loss of their scrum-half to a suspected dislocated shoulder midway through the first half did little to help their cause. By this point, Marlow was already in the ascendancy and had built a significant lead.
After seeing much of the ball in the opening 10 minutes, Marlow finally broke through Wallingford’s defenses in the 10th minute, center Hugo Jafari brilliantly avoiding a tackle and working the ball wide on the left for Dean Whiteley to sneak in the corner. The extras were missed by Mike Abbott, but Marlow held a lead that was never troubled from that point on.
Wallingford tried to make inroads when they had a long spell of possession until the 20th minute but Marlow’s defensive line held and Wallingford was either pushed back or rushed to kick or compelled to a handling error. The hosts should have extended their lead before the half-hour but promising moves fizzled on sloppy handling errors.
However, when they managed to put certain phases together and manage them well, they were clinical. In the 33rd minute they extended their lead to 12-0 with a converted try, striker Patrick Toone brilliantly unloaded the ball in a tackle at Whiteley who again went out on the left touchline and spun , under the posts, for his second try of the match.
Marlow’s defensive play had been so sharp so far that it was a surprise to see them let their guard down in the 37th minute, and captain Ian Thomson admitted the players were scolding each other then. Wallingford managed to hold the ball for several phases near the posts before their number 16 came from behind the ruck, turned to avoid a body barrage from Marlow and dipped to bring the visitors to the board. The try was converted to make it 12-7 and had the score remained the same until half-time, the second half could have been a whole different story.
Marlow, however, had other ideas and – after winning a half-time penalty from Wallingford in the 40th minute – and then seeing the visitors pushed back a further 10m for petulant comments – the hosts kicked for the corner.
Since the lineout, Marlow’s players rushed to the line a couple of times before the excellent Josh Richardson made his way to the post with the support of his teammates behind the back.
Leading 19-7 at the break, Marlow quickly put more distance between them and Wallingford with a few shots on goal, the first of which was deftly kicked by Abbott off the tee.
On the hour mark, Marlow was really driving and Wallingford looked like a battered outfit. A kick to the far sideline bounced nicely for Jafari who took the ball on pace and snuck in and worked his way past the tackles to score in the corner. Abbott couldn’t convert a hard kick but Marlow was leading 30-7 and at this point you felt they were going to build on their lead.
That they didn’t owes something to Wallingford’s character of not turning around, and the bad luck of George Flowers nearly scoring the match try. After running from inside his own half on a breakaway, his kick and chase attempt bounced off the back of the try zone just as he prepared to drop the ball .
Wallingford never threw in the towel and fought to reduce backlogs as play grew tenser in the closing stages, but the hosts were in no mood to give them points cheaply, and they hope to be just as stingy when they travel to play against Milton Keynes next weekend, a side that beat them home and away last season, netting them 50 points in the away game in March.