Cheltenham pull clear of relegation zone with win over Marlow
Cheltenham returned to league action after the recent departure of head coach Will Mbanga with a hard-fought home win against Marlow, writes Derek Clifford.
After 12 minutes of tit-for-tat rugby, Cheltenham took the lead after Marlow's Pete Lewis spilt Mark Whitney's towering up-and-under and centre Adam Dobie was on hand to grab the opening try, with Josh Herbert adding the conversion.
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Marlow opened their account soon after with a Will Fulton penalty.
From the restart, Cheltenham gained turnover ball deep in the visitors' half and flanker Josh Meadows crossed the whitewash for a unconverted try to extend the Cheltenham lead to 12-3.
Cheltenham maintained the upper hand and stretched their lead to 15-3 with a Herbert penalty after 19 minutes.
Marlow, to their credit, tried to play an expansive game but this was their undoing in the 24th minute when Cheltenham captain Tom Lait intercepted and raced in from 60 metres for an excellent solo unconverted try.
Marlow regrouped and found the Cheltenham defence wanting, captain George Jarfari strolling over for a try converted by Fulton.
Just before the half-time whistle Cheltenham were reduced to 14 men with Richard Athey shown a yellow card.
Marlow started the second half by reducing the arrears when Fulton kicked a simple penalty.
No sooner than Cheltenham were back to 15 men, it was the turn of James Hillier to incur the wrath of referee Nicholas Palmer and receive a yellow card for a ruck infringement.
Despite being down to 14 men Cheltenham increased their lead to 25-13 when debutant winger Harrison Sayer out-witted the Marlow defence for a good unconverted try.
Cheltenham now back to full strength increased their lead to 32-13 with Dobie scoring his second try.
Herbert completed the scoring for an important win that moved Cheltenham further away from the relegation zone.
Cheltenham: Moore, Bryant, Seymour, Milne, Hillier, D Morris, Meadows, Athey, Hill, Whitney, Sayer, Lait capt, Dobie, R Morris, Herbert. Reps: Mandiwanza, Tuck, Goatcher.
Marlow: Harrison, Mitchell, Smyth, Martin, Rodger, Grindrod, Bradley, Hewett, Rider, Fulton, Noble, Jarfari capt, Malliff, Saunders, Lewis. Reps Cook, Butler, Watt.
Referee: Nicholas Palmer (Glos Society)