06:14PM, Saturday 14 December 2019
Marlow 38, Shipston-on-Stour 0
Marlow RFC produced one of their best performances of the season so far to score six tries and shut out Shipston-on-Stour for a 38-0 victory at Riverwoods on Saturday.
On a bitingly cold afternoon Marlow blew red hot from the moment Nick Gorham collected a pass from George Jafari and sprinted away from the visitors’ defence to touch down the first try of the afternoon in the 20th minute.
Up until that moment it had largely been a rear-guard display from the hosts who twice had to show dogged resilience and resolve to keep out Shipston as the visitors hovered over the try line.
That impressive defence, combined with the tireless work of the forwards and the running strength of Marlow’s backs, turned the game in the home side’s favour.
With the ball in hand the likes of Hugo Jafari, George Jafari and Stuart Jordan started crashing through tackles, leaving the visitors' defence outnumbered as Marlow cashed in with three tries before the interval.
Sixty-seconds after Gorham had gone over the whitewash, Marlow were over again, George Jafari puncturing a hole in the visitors’ backline to finish off a passing move in the left hand corner. The extras were missed by Christian Witney but Marlow held a 12-0 lead they never looked like relinquishing.
Shipston – who arrived at Riverwoods above their hosts having won seven of their Southern Counties North matches to date this season – saw plenty of the ball in the first half but couldn’t make the same inroads as their hosts, forced back time and time again by walloping tackles that winded their efforts to get back into the contest.
Ten minutes before the interval Marlow stretched their advantage with arguably the try of the game, though there were several contenders.
This time George Jafari collected the ball in the middle of the field and jinked in and out of Shipston tackles, out-manovering his assailants with an electric turn of pace. He crashed over in the corner to make it 17-0, with Witney just failing to land a tough conversion.
That’s how it remained at the interval and, with the wind at their backs in the second half, there was no let up in intensity from Rory Greenslade-Jones’ side. Encouraging his players from the touchline the head coach whooped and roared in appreciation every time they clattered into a tackle or won back possession.
Never allowing Shipston a moment’s peace they scored decisively through forward Will Reynolds in the 50th minute to effectively settle the contest. Having weathered the best Shipston could throw at them in the minutes after half-time the hosts quickly turned defence into attack.
From another well-worked line-out they set up a driving maul which crept ever closer to the visitors’ tryline. They worked the ball through several phases before Hugo Jafari created the space from which Reynolds spotted a gap and dived over, 24-0.
A high tackle from forward Stuart Sylvester resulted in a yellow card sin bin and ended his involvement in the contest, but Marlow weren’t yet done as an attacking force.
Twice in the final minutes Sam Hindley raced through to score. His first was created by Jafari who sliced through the Shipston backline before slinging the ball out wide for the sprinting Hindley to touch down in the corner.
Then, just a couple of minutes before the end, Hindley cut inside his marker to run in under the posts having collected Jafari’s lofted pass close to the touchline.
That rounded off an excellent afternoon for Greenslade-Jones’ side who’ll go into the Christmas break firmly believing they can finish in the top three this season and challenge for promotion.
The win saw them nip above Shipston into fourth place, level on points with Reading who were convincing 39-7 winners over High Wycombe. Leaders Witney just edged their top of the table clash with second placed Aylesbury 22-19.
After the game Greenslade-Jones said: “I thought it was pretty much a complete performance. We’ve been pretty indifferent this season with availability of selection. But today we were able to get pretty much our first team out and it was great to see the boys put into practice what we preach at training.
“Our defensive organisation and structure was second to none. For the first 17 minutes we were under the cosh, in our own 22, and we didn’t miss a tackle and we really laid the foundations for that performance.
“It shifted the momentum of the game and it galvanised us as a team. There are certain moments you can always pinpoint and I think those big tackles were pivotal and got us into our stride.
“We then managed to get our hands on the ball and we have some very good strike runners, the likes of Hugo Jafari, George Jafari and Stuart Jordan in the backs. But then in our forwards we had young Toby Yates, who’s come on leaps and bounds this season. The same with Jack Henderson and Will Reynolds. They were first to the ball and clearing a way for Jack (Ryder) to distribute to the back.
“And we had some great running lines from Nick Gorham and Sam Hindley who finished their tries beautifully. George is a very good player, he’s 30 years-old now and is probably playing below the level he should be playing. But he’s a Marlow man through and through and he has a great understanding of the game, he galvanises the youngsters around him and he keeps a cool head in the battle so he can execute the moves we’ve talked about.”
Maidenhead RFC 46, Camborne 7
In the South West Premier Maidenhead leapt back up to second after a dominant 46-7 win over Camborne at Braywick Park.
David Mobbs-Smith side outscored their opponents by seven tries to one, having locked in a bonus point before half-time.
Scott Prince opened the scoring for the hosts, diving down in the corner after Dave Cole went on the blind side and fed him the pass. Hill touched down to get Maids’ second with Ed Keohane slotting the extras before Prince showed good hands once more to collect Will Macaulay’s pass and go over in the corner for his second. Maids then ran the length of the field to score a great try just before the break, Keohane slotting the conversion to give them a healthy 24-0 lead at the break.
Jaryd Robinson broke from inside his own half to set up George Blewitt for the home side’s fifth, the winger having the strength to bundle his way over while being tackled. The extras came from Keohane to make it 31-0.
Camborne got one back to make it 31-7 but Keohane took the game further away from the visitors with another pen before the hosts went through several more phases to set up Ben Mitchell for another fine try.
Then, after Camborne had been reduced to 14 after a cynical knock on, Maids pressed for a seventh try. Waves of pressure followed before Cole drove over with Keohane adding the extras to make the final score 46-7.
With the game between Weston-super-Mare and Barnstaple postponed due to a waterlogged pitch it means Maids sit second in the table, four points behind Barnstaple ahead of next weekend’s trip to Exeter University.
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