HEAD coach Chris Budgen saluted Marlborough’s determination to overcome adversity as they booked their place in the South West Junior Vase final on Saturday.
Budgen’s men overcame the sendings-off of Nick Clarke and Jack Lynd to lift the Southern Counties Junior Vase and progress to the regional showpiece and effectively the last eight of the national RFU competition.
Marlborough travel to Gloucester to take on Longlevens on February 22, with a place in the national last four – and the chance to play for a Twickenham final – at stake.
Former Northampton and Exeter prop forward Budgen said: “I was really happy with the way they dogged it out.
“The guys were a little bit nervous before the game, but they carried on playing.
“It was cold and windy, but they stuck to their guns.’’ Clarke received his marching orders having been adjudged to have made a dangerous tackle while Lynd was sent off after throwing a punch.
Budgen added: “I had no grumble about the ref’s call. It was a difficult cup game and we made a couple of mistakes but we stuck to our plan.
“The next round will be tough because they (Longlevens) will be very solid, but the boys keep working hard.
“Of course, we’d like to have a massive cup run, but all I care about is that we keep winning in the league (they are top of Dorset & Wilts Two North).
“Everybody at the club deserves credit – and the council for helping us make sure our pitches are in good condition.
“Ninety eight per cent of our team were local boys, so that shows the club is going in the right direction.’’
Marlborough, who reached the South West final of the Senior Vase before losing to Forest of Dean side Drybrook last season, progressed on an afternoon of fluctuating weather conditions.
After 25 minutes, the backs found space and a good break set up by Mori Nailago led to a powerful run by Lynd who was stopped, but passed to Nathan Morgan to score the first try and convert.
Almost from the kick off, Waisale Navunidaku got clear to score in almost the same position.
Playing the second half down the slope, Marl- borough lost Clarke and Lynd but managed to score a third try as a good passing move set up Jonny Mantle to score.
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