Sat 13 Feb 2021 13:49

Firsts Win at the Death

Dan Sadler scored with the last act of the game to clinch a hard fought encounter in muddy conditions against Marlow.

Wallingford hosted Marlow on a chilly day down at the Croft, looking to avenge their heavy defeat in the reverse fixture.
In selection, Wallingford were able to field a much stronger team than in the away fixture, with the only noticeable absentee being Tom Swainston, who was living it large at Butlins. He was replaced at fly-half by 17 year old James Wiltshire, with Olli Henderson coming on to the wing.

The opening ten minutes were a close affair, with neither team able to effectively break down eachothers defences. The Wallingford scrum clearly had the edge over their opponents, but the line-out was a much more even contest.

After Phil Dawes missed an early penalty attempt, it was the visitors who scored the first points of the day. After some sustained pressure in the Wallingford half, their centre hit a hard line off a ruck before wrong-footing Dan Sadler to score a well-taken try. The conversion was missed.

Wallingford came back strongly, but with the Marlow centres shutting the door on the 'scything' lines of Smith, a change of plan was needed. From a scrum on the right, James Wiltshire kicked wide to Pete McKinley who took the ball at full tilt to score in the corner. The conversion was missed.

Wallingford continued to play some decent rugby, despite the conditions, whereas Marlow's gameplan was simple - kick high and chase, and hope for Wallingford errors. But the back three, especially Sadler, were excellent under the high ball, and counter-attacked well.

Despite a prolonged attack in the Marlow twenty-two, the visitor's defence held firm, and the half ended five apiece.

The only change at half-time saw Olli Henderson come off with an injury, with Harry Lewis coming on in the unfamiliar position of centre, with Smith moving out to the wing.
The first twenty minutes of the second half was all Wallingford. Marlow seemed content to kick away possession, and were also getting on the wrong side of the referee, as they consistently didn't roll away in the tackle, which eventually resulted in a sin-bin for one of their forwards.

Despite the numerical advantage, Wallingford just couldn't get over the line, despite several chances, as Marlow defended impressively. With fifteen minutes to go, Marlow finally got back into the game, and had their own spell of pressure in the Wallingford half, but the hosts defended well, with the forwards excellent in the tight.

After weathering the brief storm, and with time nearly up, Wallingford mounted one last attack. On half way, the ball was moved blind to Lewis, who smashed through two tackles, before off-loading brilliantly to the supporting Sadler, who raced in from 25 meters to score the match winning try. Dawes' conversion was the last act of the game, as Wallingford sealed an excellent win against a strong Marlow side.

In heavy conditions, this game saw two strong defences come together. Arguably a draw would have been a fair result, but Wallingford definitely tried to play more rugby than the visitors, whilst Marlow's ill-discipline, both at the breakdown and towards the referee, didn't do them any favours. There were excellent performances all over the pitch, with Carl Tappin and Matt Pryor putting in excellent shifts in in defence and attack, but Man-of the-Match was shared between Tom Hill, for a omnipresent effort in defence, and Harry Lewis, whose impact off the bench was substantial.

1.Pryor 2.Zaluznyj 3.Monk 4.Murphy 5.Tappin (Salmon) 6.Norris 7.Hill 8.Webster 9.P.Dawes 10.J.Wiltshire 11.McKinley 12.Holton 13.Smith 14.Henderson (H.Lewis) 15.Sadler

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