MARLBOROUGH’S slim hopes of poaching a South West One (East) play-off spot all but ended on Saturday when Old Patesians downed the common outfit 24-17.

The game between both sides was due to be played in December, but that game had to be postponed because of a waterlogged pitch.

Injuries meant Marlborough had to field a makeshift XV, though Colts youngster Ben Willmott was encouragingly handed his first-team debut.

Marlborough started the game well as proven try-scorer Kane Marafono scored the visitors’ first try with only minutes on the board, though the conversion was missed.

But the cruel hand of fate struck when tight head prop Lemeki Mola had to leave the field because of a serious eye injury.

Back row Rhodri Campbell had to move up into the front row position while Marlborough played three hookers in the front row.

Unsurprisingly, their scrum came under extreme pressure from this moment. And Patesians took full advantage of the visitors’ weaknesses by scoring three unanswered tries in 20 minutes.

Viliame Waganidrola did well to score an individual with 25 minutes on the clock to restore some parity for Marlborough and reduce the hosts’ lead to just five points.

That lead was extended when Old Patesians registered a converted try shortly before half time to lead 24-12.

A half time tactical change at fly-half, which saw Macdonald Lewis move from 12 to 10 to help lessen the impact of Marlborough’s under pressure scrum, worked well for Marlborough.

In the final 20 minutes Marlborough upped their game, but despite losing almost every scrum, both for and against, they still placed Old Patesians under considerable pressure.

But Patesians’ defence was first class, this didn’t prevent Marlborough from cutting their deficit to seven points as an unconverted try was scored.

Next week, the firsts are home to Buckingham and the seconds are away to Sutton Benger. Also in South West One (East) action this weekend are Chippenham, Trowbridge and Royal Wootton Bassett.

Chippenham host Beaconsfield while Trowbridge and Bassett visit Oxford Harlequins and Sherborne.