Minety RFC

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Hughes and Hibbard shine in Minety win

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Fly half Sam Hughes and Number 8 Andrew Hibbard were the undoubted stars as Minety completed a deserved 39 – 22 win over Pewsey Vale on Saturday, and in so doing moved above Trowbridge into 6th place in Dorset and Wilts Division 1 with just match left in the season.

Both teams played with a ferocity that left a number of players injured and many more nursing knocks that will take some days to recover.

Pewsey started the match kicking down the slope but soon found the home team making incursions into their territory thanks to some quick bursts from scrum half Garin Garland, returning to action after 5 weeks out through injury.

Minety opened the scoring in the 5th minute. When Hughes picked up the ball 30 metres out there seemed little chance of a try but the fly half danced his way past 5 defenders to score beneath the posts.

Sam Hughes scores Minety’s first try in the 5th minute

With Garland orchestrating the moves and speedy flankers Mark Glew and Morgan Aubrey pressing forward, Minety began to play the sort of free flowing rugby that had been their hallmark earlier in the season before injuries deprived them of so many players.

Garin Garland before his injury

Pewsey used the slope well and some defensive kicking soon saw them camped on the Minety try, using their mobile pack and powerful backs to pin the village team back. Fine tackling by second row Matt Chisholm and winger Duncan Simpson frustrated Pewsey’s attempts and kept the home side ahead until a pivotal moment in the match on 20 minutes when Garland had to be helped from the pitch after sustaining what looked to be a concussion. Minety coach Andy Grayson brought on young Sam Waldron and moved Glew to scrum half as cover.

Pewsey scored their first try shortly after, a forwards’ move seeing them push over the line to touch down in the 23rd minute. The conversion was missed so Minety still lead by 7 – 5.

With Glew and Hughes now working well at half back and Hibbard always a threat in the loose, Minety pressed for a score before half time, centre Chris Rule hauled down metres from the line after a fine burst through the defence, prop Colin French on hand to take up the charge.

Pewsey were denied a try in the 36th minute when the final pass of a fluent cross field move went forward as the physicality of the encounter took its toll, French forced off after a heavy tackle and Dan Wilson entering the fray, the 48th player to wear the Minety 1st XV shirt this season. With Glew moving to prop as cover, centre Del Murray took up the scrum half role as the half entered no less than 13 minutes of stoppage time.

A 60 metre, lung busting run up the slope from Hibbard released the Pewsey pressure and after attempts by captain Tom Claxton and prop Andy Darrall, Hughes kicked a penalty to end the half with Minety leading 10 -5.

Sam Hughes kicks Minety into a 12-5 lead before half time

The second half was just seconds old when Hibbard picked up a loose ball in a ruck and ran in 30 metres to score beneath the posts, Hughes adding the conversion to send Minety 17-5 up.

Andrew Hibbard scores Minety’s second try in the 41st minute

Murray’s break shortly after almost set up Wilson on the wing but when the ball came back in field it went to ground and the chance was lost.

Hughes extended the lead in the 51st minute with a penalty and then scored his second try when a loose ball popped up into his hands at the end of a lovely move involving centre Bram Coleman, Hibbard and full back Mike Scott.

Sam Hughes scores his 2nd and Minety’s third try in the 53rd minute

In the 56th minute Hughes was denied a try controversially after another brilliant solo run when it was claimed he had not grounded the ball properly and then moments later he burst passed  5 defenders before off loading to Claxton but the ball went to ground when a try seemed the only outcome possible. 

Sam is denied a hat trick after apparently not grounding this attempt.

In the 62nd minute Claxton was prevented from grounding the ball over the line but from the ensuing scrum Minety pushed over and Hibbard touched down for his second try and Minety’s bonus point winning 4th try.

Andrew Hibbard registers his second and Minety’s 4th try in the 64th minute

Minety’s 5th try came straight from the kick off.  Glew burst forward before offloading to winger Simpson.  He evaded the first line of defence before passing to Hibbard who ran in to score his second half hat trick try beneath the posts.  Hughes slotted home the conversion and Minety led 39-5.

Andrew Hibbard’s hat trick try and Minety’s 5th in the 64th minute

The game became much more open as it entered the last 10 minutes and only a brilliant tackle from Murray prevented Pewsey after a breath taking 80 metre move almost saw the visitors score a break away try. Pewsey’s enterprise was rewarded with a third try shortly after and they added a 4th, and bonus point winning try in the 80th minute, a point which may prove vital at the end of the season.

Del Murray’s brilliant try saving tackle late on

Coach Andy Grayson was rightly proud of his team.  “There were moments of individual brilliance that caught the eye but the team played well as a whole.  Andy Darrall had a great game at prop and Morgan Aubrey caught, carried and tackled well throughout the game. If I had to name a man of the match I’d have to give it to Andrew Hibbard for his ball carrying and his hat trick of tries although it’s hard to overlook a stunning individual performance from Sam Hughes.”

Whoops! Someone drops the ball with the try line beckoning.

The win takes Minety above Trowbridge into 6th place in the league with just one fixture remaining of the season, against 4th placed Warminster at Minety Fields next Saturday.




Written by Graham Cooke

April 7th, 2019 at 10:48 am

Minety II’s end season in style

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Minety’s 2nd XV ended their campaign in D&W3 with a well deserved 35 – 27 victory over Chippenham 3rds on a day when rugby was the winner.  Played in bright sunshine, the game was a fine advertisement for all that is good in recreational rugby, both teams employing large benches to swap players in and out as the energy sapping conditions took their toll.

Chippenham enjoyed the considerable slope in the first half on a ground baked hard. Kicking off, the visitors put Minety under real pressure in the opening exchanges but some fine tackling by the team made up of veterans, players returning to fitness and youngsters stood up well.

In the 5th minute Minety’s new French recruit Nicolai De-Sousa, playing full back, showed the team’s resolve stopping an attack single handedly with a superb tackle.  With young scrum half Charles Grayson moving the ball well from the ruck and props Piers Ward and captain Steve Wilson making good ground in midfield, Minety appeared to be holding their visitors until a ball broke free down the right and after a series of quick recycling phases a try was scored close to the posts.  The conversion was successful and Chippenham led 7-0.

Wilson’s team, who have endured a difficult season, often being unable to field a full team due to unavailabilities, struck back and camped out in the Chippenham 22 for the next 15 minutes.  Hooker Mark Glew, fly half Scott Tomlinson and centre Del Murray all went close as Minety pressed for their opening score.  Only some fine tackling held out Morgan Aubrey and Dave White as Grayson and Tomlinson began to forge a very useful half back partnership.

Minety got their deserved equaliser after a break from Bram Coleman in midfield set up a neat passing move out on the left which saw open side flanker Johnny Leong run through to touch down beneath the posts.  Tomlinson’s conversion was successful and the side were tied 7-7.

Jonathan Leong scores Minety’s 1st try

Chippenham struck back in the 31st minute with their second try scored after a series of tap penalties had unsettled the home defence.  The conversion drifted narrowly wide but the visitors had the lead as half time approached.

Scrum half Charles Grayson

Minety should have gone in at half time in the lead but two clear cut chances went begging with the line open and players beginning to flag under the unseasonably warm sun.

Lineout action late in the first half

Chippenham extended their lead in the 43rd minute with a penalty after Minety were caught off their feet in a ruck.

Del Murray races in for try number 2

Three tries in the space of just 9 minutes set Minety on the road to victory.  First Murray took full advantage of confusion at the back of a Chippenham scrum to intercept the ball and run it in, then a fluent move through the backs saw winger Henry Skipton-Carter away on the left.  He off loaded in a tackle but Jack Ward, making a tentative return to competitive rugby after being out injured for most of the season, collected the pass to score under the posts.  Tomlinson maintained his 100% kicking record with the conversion and Minety led for the first time 21-15.

Jack Ward scores try Number 3

Minety’s 4th try came from after tap penalty, the fly half noticing a gap in the Chippenham defence and racing through to score under the posts. Once again Tomlinson slotted the conversion and the home side led 28-15.

As the game entered its final quarter Chippenham mounted a furious assault on the home line, denied once by a tackle on the line, before scoring their third try shortly after.  The successful conversion brought them back in range, 28-22.

The visitors set up a frantic final 10 minutes with probably the best try of the match out wide on the right in the 68th minute.  The ball moved through the backs and released the winger who touched down near the corner post.  The long range conversion crashed against the upright and bounced clear and Minety clung on to a slender 1 point lead.

The game was settled with just three minutes left on the clock.  Minety pressed forward and pinned Chippenham back in their 22.  Another quick tap penalty close to the line saw the Minety centre cut back and wrong foot the defence to score near the posts. De Sousa took the conversion, slotting the ball home before celebrating with a gymnastic back flick to the delight of his team mates.

Try number 5 in the 77th minute

Coach Andy Grayson thanked all of his players at the end of the game.  “It was a really good game played in the right spirit.  Big thanks to everyone who turned out and contributed to the match. Picking one player for Man of The Match was very difficult but I decided upon Scott Tomlinson, our fly half, who kicked 4 conversions and played really well throughout.”


The record books will show a Minety win; what those books won’t necessarily show is what a good game of rugby it was – well refereed and played in the best spirits of rugby.

Minety 35 Chippenham 27.

Next week attention turns to the 1st XV as they entertain Pewsey Vale at Minety Fields.

Written by Graham Cooke

March 31st, 2019 at 11:34 am

Minety mauled at Melksham

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Minety’s chances of a top 6 place in Dorset and Wilts Division 1 look remote after they were subjected to a 9 try mauling at the hands of a well organised Melksham team on Saturday.  The village team came into the match with a young and inexperienced team hoping to surprise 3rd placed Melksham, and for the first 14 minutes they looked as if they were in with a chance.

On a beautifully prepared pitch at Melksham it was the village team who dominated the early exchanges with new half back team Mark Glew and Dave Cooke spreading the ball out wide and debutant Will Seaton making darting runs on the wing.  Forwards Andrew Hibbard, Cameron Smith and captain Tom Claxton all made inroads into the Melksham 22 as Minety pushed for the opening score.

The illusive Jack Howse was hauled down close to the line but then Melksham were caught offside but Cooke’s penalty attempted crashed again the near post and bounced to safety.

Jack Howse before his leg injury

The let off spurred Melksham into the type of form that has seen them as the only team to really challenge Combe Down and Avonvale at the top of the table.  After a series of cross field moves a chip kick over the Minety defence saw the winger collect and touch down beneath the posts.

Melksham doubled their lead in the 20th minute, another fluent move across the pitch enabling the No. 8 to touch down under the posts.

With Howse proving a handful in mid field and strong running from his fellow centre Chris Rule and Mike Scott, making his first appearance of the season, Minety matched Melksham as the half wore on. Melksham extended their lead with a long range penalty in the 30th minute to take the score to 17-0.

Rule was almost through shortly after as Minety pressed forward, the backs moving the ball quickly along the line but the Melksham defence was well organised and the attack fizzled out. As the game entered stoppage time at the end of the half Minety chose not to kick a penalty and ran the ball at the Melksham line.  Winger Matt Stone looked to have broken through but a last gaps tackle dislodged the ball and the chance was lost. Matt Chisholm, Claxton and Colin French were all stopped near the line but it was Melksham who finished the half with a try after a break out against the run of play.

Centre Chris Rule puts in another crunching tackle

Coach Andy Grayson introduced Matt Roberts at the start of the second half after Mike Scott was injured but the experienced back could do nothing to prevent Melksham’s 4th try in the opening minute; a fine move across field from left to right ending with a touch down by the right hand flag.

Minety lost Howse shortly after, replaced by Sam Trinder. The sheer weight of the Melksham attacks were taking their toll on a hard pitch and under an unseasonably warm sunshine.  Rather than slowing the game down to try to catch their breath, Minety showed their inexperience by trying to up the tempo and all too often the ball was lost to a Melksham side growing in confidence.

Melksham kicked their second penalty of the match in the 53rd minute and from the kick off only a fine tackle from Roberts prevented another Melksham try.  A minute later it was Roberts on the attack, his kick and chase thwarted at the Melksham line but as Minety tried to re-organise the ball went out wide on the left for the Melksham winger to run in the 5th try from 60 metres out. The long range conversion was successful and Minety were down by 37 points.

Matt Stone runs in to score Minety’s only points

Matters went from bad to worse seconds later.  From the kick off Melksham burst through to run in their 6th try under the posts.

Shortly after, Howse, pressed back into action after Cooke was injured, was the recipient of a late tackle and had to be carried from the pitch, latest indications being that he may have fractured his leg in the incident.

Melksham’s 7th try came in the 68th minute, again after a back’s move that the visibly tiring Minety defence simply could not manage.

Andy Grayson’s side picked themselves up after this latest set back and Matt Stone was on the end of a good move set up by Rule and Colin French to touch down wide on the right for Minety’s first points.

Matt touches down for Minety’s try

Melksham ended the match with two further converted tries to leave the final score a rather flattering 65 -5.

Tom Claxton is helped from the pitch late on

Coach Grayson was disappointed at the end of the game.  “There’s not a lot of positives that we can take from that game although I thought Will Seaton had a good debut and Chris Rule put in a man of the match performance with his tackling in midfield.  I’d certainly like to thank all of the 2nd XV players who stepped up and hope that the injured players can rest and recover before our next match, at home to Pewsey in a fortnight’s time.”

Not for the faint hearted – Jack’s fracture!

In the weekend’s other match, Minety 2nd XV were defeated by 43 – 19 by Warminster.

Written by Graham Cooke

March 24th, 2019 at 10:51 am

Battling Minety downed by league leaders

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Minety lost their Dorset and Wilts Division 1 encounter with runaway league leaders Combe Down, going down by 43-7 at Minety Fields on Saturday.

The Bath based side came into the match with an unblemished record in the league this season, winning all 18 of their matches and averaging well over 50 points in each game so Minety coach Andy Grayson and captain Andrew Hibbard knew that they were in for a bruising encounter.

Still without club captain Tom Claxton and leading points scorer Garin Garland, Grayson brought in Matt Park at hooker and paired Mark Glew with James Nicksen at half back for the first time.

Minety got off to the worst possible start, conceding the opening try in the 4th minute and then a second just two minutes later.  The first came when the ball squirmed out of a scrummage and was picked up by the Combe Down flanker who crossed easily near the posts, the second at the end of a fluent move involving forwards and backs resulting in the left winger running the ball in near the corner flag and then touching down near the posts.

14-0 down after just 6 minutes and Minety looked in real trouble. However, Grayson’s sides this season have displayed resilience under pressure this season and they fought back against their illustrious opponents, Glew and Nicksen working well together and the usually reliable lineouts and scrums giving some quality ball for the backs.  From one set piece Hibbard almost broke through but was brought down metres from the line.

In the pack it became a real battle with front rowers Andy Darrall, Park and Colin French refusing to give an inch in exchanges, ably supported by second rowers Ben Scott and Ben Collins. Combe Down showed why they are unbeaten this season with some fine backs moves, switching play from one touchline to the other with confidence but the Minety cover broke up play time and time again.

Minety’s task was not helped when hard tackling flanker Jay Thompson was injured mid-way through the half, James Stuart coming on from the bench to replace him. The home side matched Combe Down until three minutes before the interval.  After another series of impressive phases of play Minety’s defences were breached for the third try and a fourth was added in stoppage time as both teams pressed forward and gaps appeared defensively.

Minety started the second half brightly with centre Jack Howse at last finding some room to run at the defence and Hibbard always a threat in the loose but it was Combe Down who scored first to increase their lead to 31-0 in the 43rd minute, a flanker breaking through two tackles to cross for their 5th try.  The conversion was successful and league leaders were 31-0 up. Minety introduced Tom Waldron to the side shortly after when Del Murray picked up an injury.  The youngster became the 45th player to wear a Minety shirt in this season full of injuries and unavailabilities for the village side.

Combe Down’s 6th try came from a rolling maul as Minety were pushed back.  Flanker Kieran Tillotson was injured in the lead up to the try and had to be replaced, Steve White making a rare appearance for the side replacing him.

36 points behind, Minety fought back with Howse and French stopped inches short of the line and then Scott held up over the line.  Shortly after winger Dave Cooke was held up on the line but when the ball came back captain Hibbard broke a tackle to register a well-deserved try for Minety, which Nicksen converted to bring the scoreline to 7-36.

Andrew Hibbard (bottom right) touches down for Minety’s try

Deep into injury time, and with the home team down to 13 players with Howse off the pitch and injured, Combe Down registered their 7th try near to the posts to leave them with a flattering 43-7 win.

Afterwards Andy Grayson said, “We worked very hard today.  They are a team who have scored over 100 points in some games and we made them work hard for every try. There were lots of positives to take from that match.  We didn’t take a backward step and stuck together as a unit, even when the injuries began to take their toll. Choosing a man of the match was very difficult because everyone put in so much effort, but I’m awarding it to James Nicksen who stood up under extreme pressure and was at the heart of all that we did.”

Man of the Match James Nicksen, with Colin French and Anton.

With three matches of the season Minety remain in 7th place, two points behind Trowbridge but 11 above 8th placed Sutton Benger.

Could well be a caption contest! A bloodied Ben Scott at the end of the match.

In a fortnight Grayson’s team travel to 3rd placed Melksham before ending the season with two home games, against Pewsey Vale and Warminster.



Written by Graham Cooke

March 10th, 2019 at 10:01 am

Hughes shines and Howse rules for Minety

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Minety started their vital run in to the end of the season with a fine victory at Dorset and Wilts Division 1 rivals Chippenham on Saturday, crossing for 6 tries as they emerged victorious 39-19.

With three of the top five teams in the league still to play, 7th placed Minety knew that a win was necessary over 9th placed Chippenham if the village team were to keep up the pressure on the top 6 in the division.

Playing with the blustery wind at their backs, Minety opened the scoring with their first attack. Scrum half Mark Glew fed fly half Sam Hughes from a scrummage 35 metres out.  Hughes dummied a pass and then cut through the Chippenham defence, out pacing the full back to score a superb individual try close to the posts. The conversion struck the post but deflected through and Minety were 7-0 up.

Sam Hughes bursts through for Minety’s 1st try

The village side kept up the pressure, pinning Chippenham back into their 22 with a combination of fine tackling, superb tactical kicking from Hughes and strong running from full back Chris Rule and the forwards. Minety’s pack were completely dominant at set pieces, driving Chippenham back and setting up plays for the elusive backs. A new Minety centre partnership of Jack Howse and debutant Sam Trinder counter attacked at will and were soon causing the Chippenham defence problems as the home side tried to break out of their own half.

With second row Ben Scott and No. 8 Andrew Hibbard winning lineouts, Minety were able to exploit the conditions and seldom did Chippenham make any significant inroads into the Minety half in the first quarter of the match.

Minety increased their lead in the 20th minute after another dominant scrum.  Hughes fed Howse who cut through the Chippenham defence to score out on the left.  The conversion sailed narrowly wide in the wind but Minety were 12-0 up and looking comfortable.

Jack Howse slices throught the defence for try No. 2

Minety lost their influential captain Tom Claxton soon after, clearly feeling the effects of a recent injury, and gave a second appearance of the season to Matt Park who took over as hooker.

Scrum half Glew set up Minety’s third try in the 34th minute with a fine break in midfield.  The ball was recycled to Hughes who passed to Howse on the 30 metres out.  The centre burst forward, chipped the defence and ran in to touch down for another eye catching try.  Hughes’s conversion from the touchline was inch perfect and Minety extended their lead to 19 points.  A Hughes penalty with half time beckoning added to the cushion, Minety 22-0 up.

Jack Howse touches dwon for Minety’s third try

With the referee playing stoppage time Chippenham got themselves on the scoresheet.  After an attack down the right seemed to have been snuffed out the ball broke to their pacey winger who ran in a fine solo effort from 60 metres out but in the final play of the half Glew fed Hughes from a scrum, the fly half sliced through the defence before offloading to Rule who crossed for Minety’s 4th, and bonus point winning try and a half time lead of 27-5.

Chris Rule races through for try No. 4

With the benefit of the wind at their backs, Chippenham started the second half strongly but seldom looked like breaching the Minety defence.  Winger Matt Stone and props Andy Darrall and Colin French held up most attacks in midfield while flankers Kieran Tillotson and Cam Smith secured lose ball on the ground.

When Trinder picked up a knock he was replaced by Morgan Aubrey, the flanker still carrying a back injury from a previous match. Another brilliant solo break from Hughes released the pressure and after a fine set of forwards’ moves Hughes fed Howse who side stepped his way through the defence for his hat trick try.  Hughes slotted the conversion and Minety enjoyed a commanding 34-5 lead but the fly half had picked up a leg injury in the move and was forced off.

Jack Howse completes his hat trick with try No. 5

While Minety were re-organising their back line Chippenham took advantage and scored their second try of the match in the 69th minute.  The conversion was successful but Minety still led 34-12.

Shortly after Howse was unlucky not to score a 4th try as he chased a loose ball near the home line.

As the game entered stoppage time Chippenham scored their third try moving the ball quickly from left to right to touch down near the posts.  The kick was successful and the lead down to 34-19.

There was still time for Minety to launch one last attack.  Driven forward by Glew and Rule, the forwards took up the charge, Smith, Hibbard and Aubrey pushing Chippenham deep into their own 22. Another huge scrummage saw Hibbard burst for the line but when he was tackled, second row Ben Collins was on hand to collect the pass and score his 3rd try of the season to end the scoring, Minety winning the match by 39-19.

Ben Collins celebrates his 3rd try of the season and Minety’s 6th of the match.

Coach Andy Grayson was full of praise for his team at the end.  “That was a good old, hard fought win for us based upon a domination of the scrum and the lineout.  There were great performances all round the pitch and I must congratulate Sam Trinder and Matt Park for their efforts.  It’s hard not to give someone who scores a hat trick man of the match, and Jack Howse was excellent, but my Man of the Match goes to Sam Hughes, who ran the game for us.”



Written by Graham Cooke

March 3rd, 2019 at 10:50 am

Minety bag a bonus point win

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Minety got their season back on track on Saturday with a hard fought bonus point winning victory over Calne.  After a disappointing run of results, largely down to a crippling injury list, the villagers scored four tries and ran out comfortable winners after a lack lustre performance in the 1st half.

Minety were on the back foot before the match started when last week’s Man of the Match, Morgan Aubrey, injured his back in warm up and had to withdraw, Matt Chisholm being introduced from the 2nd XV.

Calne started the match playing down the slope and the new half back combination of Sam Hughes and Jack Howse were forced to kick to clear Minety’s lines as Calne’s big forwards powered their way down field.

Minety’s pack found themselves being pushed back at set pieces in the early stages and that prevented captain Andrew Hibbard from having the time and space to set up attacks and the backs, unaccustomed to playing in their new positions, often missed opportunities to make inroads into the Calne defence.

The visitors opened the scoring in the 17th minute with a well worked try after a period of sustained pressure on the Minety line.  A clever switchback pass allowed the Number 8 to power through the Minety defence for a try near the posts.  The conversion was kicked and Calne led by 7 – 0. The visitors kept up the pressure and only some strong defensive tackling from props Colin French and Andy Darrell and hooker Mark Glew kept them out.  A fine double tackle from Hughes and full back Ben Langridge brought another Calne attack to an end with the Minety line in sight as the home side struggled to organise their attacking play.

Calne increased their lead in the 29th minute with a penalty after a Minety player was penalised for holding on to the ball in a ruck.

As the half neared its end Minety started to play the kind of rugby that had served them so well early in the season.  Hughes was foiled by a tap tackle when apparently clean through but the ball broke to centre Chris Rule who took the ball forward before it was moved out wide to winger Ben Langridge who touched down in the corner in first half stoppage time. Hughes’ monster conversion from the touchline brought the score to 7-10 as the half time whistle went.

Ben Langridge scores Minety’s 1st try

Minety took the lead for the first time in the 48th minute after Howse had battered his way down the middle.  The ball was fed back to Hughes to beat three defenders before popping the ball to winger Dave Cooke who cut back and scored Minety’s second try.  The conversion sailed wide but Minety were now 12-10 up.

Dave Cooke cuts back to beat the defence and score try number 2

Hughes kicked a penalty to extend the lead shortly after a brilliant solo effort from Glew was halted on the Calne 22.

Calne struck back with a penalty of their own on the hour after Minety were caught off side at a ruck.

As the match entered its final quarter Minety went for the win and the four try bonus point.  Hibbard was held up on the line as the Minety pack found their form and drove Calne back but from the ensuing scrum the elusive Hughes spotted a gap in the Calne defence and dived through to score Minety’s third try and he then extended the home side’s advantage to 9 points with the conversion.

Sam Hughes picks up and drives through for Minety’s 3rd try

It looked as if Minety’s quest for the bonus point 4th try would be thwarted by a determined Calne defence until Howse burst through in stoppage time.  In the move of the match he managed to off load as he was tackled and Rule, following up, collected the ball, beat the final defender and ran in to score in what was to be the last play of the match.  The conversion was missed but Minety had ended their losing streak with a solid win.

Chris Rule scores the bonus point winning 4th try

Coach Andy Grayson was pleased with the second half performance.  “We struggled in the first half and made life difficult for ourselves.  The scrum wasn’t working as well as usual and too many moves were breaking down at crucial times.

“Ben Langridge’s try at the end of the half was vital; it gave us the impetus to take the game to Calne and use the speed that this team thrives upon.  Dave Cooke’s second try and a solid all round performance earned him my man of the match award and the final two tries from Sam Hughes and the marvellous final try from Chris Rule bought us the bonus point win I felt we deserved.”

The four try scorers: Dave Cooke, Ben Langridge, Sam Hughes and Chris Rule

The win keeps Minety in 7th place but closes the gap to 6th placed Trowbridge to just two points.

In the other match Minety 2nds were beaten 22 -42 by Swindon.





Written by Graham Cooke

February 16th, 2019 at 7:08 pm

A harsh lesson for Minety

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Minety’s run of losses in the Dorset and Wilts league was extended to three on Saturday when they were taught a harsh lesson in finishing by a confident and well drilled Avonvale side.  The Batheaston unit, beaten only three times this season, twice by runaway leaders Combe Down, ran in 9 tries to inflict a heavy 57 – 3 defeat of Andy Grayson’s patched up Minety side, although the casual watcher would have thought the sides much more evenly matched with Minety dominating both possession and territory, especially in a second half where they were camped on the Avonvale line for long periods.

With club captain Tom Claxton still out with a head injury, Andrew Hibbard captained a team which gave Ned Lockwood his first team debut and brought in a number of second teamers to raise a basic 15 players.

On a pitch that dropped at least 10 feet from one touchline to the other, the game kicked off under grey skies and a whirling cold wind.

Much of Avonvale’s success has been built upon their confident handling and speed of attack and Minety were forced to defend their line in the first minute, debutant Lockwood and Jay Thompson being called upon to make try saving tackles as Minety tried to organise their line.

Avonvale opened the scoring with a well worked try by the right hand corner flag.  From a lineout on the other side of the pitch the ball was moved quickly cross field for the winger to touch down.

Captain Andrew Hibbard

Hibbard looked to have broken through for an equalising try soon after but play was brought back when the assistant referee indicated a foot had touched the line.

Minety’s lineout, without regular catcher Ben Scott, also out with a head injury, held up well, Matt Chisholm in only his second match of the season, taking the ball confidently and providing good ball to the new half back pairing of Del Murray and Will Mason.

Strong tackling in midfield from Morgan Aubrey, second row Matt Stone and centre Bram Coleman kept Avonvale at bay as the home side opted for an open attacking style with Minety content to keep the ball in tight.

Minety on the attack

Minety’s attacking cost them dear in the 18th minute.  Avonvale gathered a loose ball in mid field and, after a suspiciously forward looking pass, broke the line, their second row ran in to touch down beneath the posts.  The conversion was successful and Minety were 12-0 down.  Minety struck back and centre Jack Howse, Stone and prop Colin French were all held up by a well disciplined and resolute Avonvale defence.

As Minety pressed Avonvale were penalised on a number of occasions as Hibbard drove his forwards towards the line.  Tempers flared up in the 26th minute as the battle intensified and the referee had to speak to both captains to calm the situation down.

Chris Rule and Ned Lockwood combine to keep out a try

Avonvale’s 3rd try came in the 28th minute.  With Minety desperately pressing for a try, a chip over the Avonvale defence was caught by the full back who launched an impressive attack featuring three quick passes to allow the fly half a run in from half way with the Minety defence caught upfield.

Fly half Will Mason, in his second appearance of the season, posted Minety’s first score in the 32nd minute with a long range penalty after Aubrey had been illegally cleared out of a ruck.

Morgan Aubrey “cleared” out of a ruck

Avonvale ended the half strongly with two tries in stoppage time, the first a push over from a scrum, the second a run in by the centre after play had broken down in midfield.

The villagers were reduced to 14 players in the opening minute of the second half when Howse picked up a leg injury with no players available to replace him on the bench. Avonvale capitalised on the advantage, plundering a try on the short side after a ruck near the Minety line. The 7th try came from another breakaway.  A Minety attack down the right broke down in the home 22 and a swift attacking move down the left involving four players saw the full back cross for a try which he converted to take Avonvale into a 43-3 point lead.

Ben Langridge tackled

A solo effort from scrum half Murray was taken on by Hibbard and Rule before Lockwood was held up over the line as Minety pushed for their first try.  In the next passage of play Stone, French, Murray and Hibbard all went desperately close but were kept out by the impressive Avonvale defence.

A wonderfully mazy run by Mason, beating three players, was halted on the Avonvale 22 and when Hibbard caught the clearance kick and ran it back it seemed certain that Minety would score but Stone, now playing in the centre, and full back Chris Rule both went close without being able to breach the defensive line.

Will Mason breaks free

Minety’s chances of salvaging anything from the match went with 10 minutes to go when winger Langridge suffered a re-occurrence of an ankle injury that had kept him out for a month earlier in the season and then hooker Jay Thompson suffered a shoulder injury which necessitated huge changes to the organisation of the pack.

Ned Lockwood held up over the line

Desperately tired and outnumbered all over the pitch, Minety were unable to hold out and Avonvale’s prop scored close to the posts with 3 minutes left and the Batheaston outfit finished the game with a further breakaway converted try in stoppage time to run out 57-3 victors.

Chris Rule breaks through

Coach Andy Grayson had nothing but praise for his side after the match.  “Thanks to all who played, many out of position.  I couldn’t have asked for more effort.  We were down to 14 men at the start of the 2nd half and then lost two more to significant injuries but the team kept going and I thought they were desperately unlucky not to score at least one try, especially since we had so much possession and territory.  Special mention to Ned Lockwood, making his debut on the wing; I thought he had a great game and was so unlucky not to score mid-way through the second half.  My joint men of the match were Morgan Aubrey, for his tremendous tackling, and Andrew Hibbard for his attacking play.”

Batterde and bruised, joint man of the match, Morgan Aubrey

Next week Minety take on Calne at home, hoping to arrest a slide that has now cast them adrift of the top sides, sitting in 7th place 7 points behind Trowbridge and 12 ahead of 8th placed Sutton Benger.

The “Brains Trust”



Written by Graham Cooke

February 10th, 2019 at 11:06 am

Minety misery mired in the mud

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Minety’s bright start to 2019 has hit the buffers hard.  After two fine wins at the start of the month, Andy Grayson’s team have now suffered back to back losses against Sutton Benger and Trowbridge, teams that they would have expected to beat earlier in the campaign.

Saturday’s 15 – 0 defeat by fellow mid table team Trowbridge was the first time that Minety have suffered a “shut out” since March 2018, when they were on the end of a hammering by eventual champions Bradford on Avon.

On a pitch dampened by a pre match shower and in rather blustery conditions, the home side kicked off up the slope, the team showing a number of changes to the line-up, with, once again, numerous players playing out of their usual positions.

Early signs were good with the new half back combination of Garin Garland and Dave Cooke using their powerful forwards to push Trowbridge back.  Flanker Mark Glew was only stopped inches from the line in the 2nd minute while number 8 Andrew Hibbard was on the end of another move that ended with a thumping tackle close to the visitors line as Minety sought an early lead.

Garin Garland before his injury

Having seen off Minety’s early pressure, Trowbridge kicked their way into home territory and began to move the slippery ball confidently but were thwarted by fine tackles from winger Chris Rule, flanker Morgan Aubrey and full back Duncan Simpson.

Trowbridge opened the scoring in the 7th minute.  A missed tackle in midfield allowed their fly half to slice through the Minety defence and, although he was stopped, the ball broke to the outside centre who cleverly cut back against the direction of play to touch down beneath the posts. The conversion was straight forward and Trowbridge led 7-0.

For the second week running an injury proved pivotal to the outcome of the game.  Last week Minety lost specialist fly half Sam Hughes to a concussion; this week it was Minety’s top point scorer and play maker scrum half Garland, suffering a dislocated shoulder in the 12th minute.  The injury forced coach Grayson to make a number of changes, moving flanker Glew to scrum half and shuffling his pack, introducing Matt Chisholm to the action.

The Minety pack, which despite being smaller than most opposition 8’s, has been dominant this season, once again proved its worth, pushing Trowbridge back.  When Hibbard picked up at the back of a scrum and dived for the line most thought Minety had scored; sadly, the referee didn’t see it that way and brought play back for a reset scrum.  Despite all of their pressure, Minety were unable to score and the game became a forwards battle in midfield although Trowbridge always looked dangerous when the play became open and their quick backs could attack down the flanks.

Hibbard reaches for the line

Another break down the middle almost saw Trowbridge through for their second try but the ball was dislodged in a tackle allowing Matt Stone to counter attack down the wing, with Hibbard in support as Minety tried to clear their lines.  With props Colin French and Andy Darrall tackling hard and closing down space, Minety were able to hold Trowbridge in midfield. 

Minety’s scrum and lineout continued to dominate but with so many positional changes, they lacked the ability to be able to clear their lines and set up the type of flowing rugby that categorised their early season successes.

In the final minute of the half Trowbridge increased their lead with a penalty to end the half 10-0 to the good.

The visitors started the second half strongly but once again, fearless tackling from the Minety players, notably Aubrey and fellow flanker Gareth Peirce, held them back as both teams sought to move the ball on a pitch that was cutting up quickly.  Free running centre Jack Howse was always a threat to the visitors while the pack held firm and Ben Scott and Hibbard continued their domination at lineout.

Ben Scott takes another lineout

Coach Grayson brought on Gareth Thomas for Darrall on the hour and introduced Del Murray at fly half, moving Cooke back to his accustomed position on the wing.

Trowbridge effectively settled the match shortly after with their second try, scored by their centre as the Minety defence tried to re-organise.  The conversion was successfully charged down by Simpson but with the rain falling and the scrummages now deemed “uncontested” after Trowbridge withdrew a prop and were unable to replace him, Minety’s final chances slipped away in the mud.

Morgan Aubrey & Chris Rule tackle

Coach Grayson was philosophical at the end.  “I thought we put in and immense effort and I can’t fault any of the 18 players who wore the Minety shirt.  We had so many players in unaccustomed positions and no real system to fall back on but they gave everything.  For his tackling and rucking, my Man of the Match must go to Morgan Aubrey.”

Man of the Match: Morgan Aubrey

Next week Minety have a very welcome week off.


Written by Graham Cooke

January 27th, 2019 at 10:51 am

Grayson’s selection nightmare mired in the mud

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Minety’s topsy turvy season took another unexpected twist when the team lost narrowly away to local rivals Sutton Benger 18-17 on a rain sodden and muddy pitch.

Minety coach Andy Grayson must be wondering what else this season has in store after a selection nightmare for the game. Already without his two starting wingers, further injuries picked up last week deprived him of the influential pair of Jack Ward and Matt Roberts and then he lost leading points scorer, scrum half Garin Garland on the morning of the match.

The patched up Minety team started with a prop, Mark Glew, at scrum half, two flankers playing on the wings and a winger, Steve White, at full back.

With the rain falling steadily, Minety kicked off against a strong Benger team who have progressed well in Division 1 after their promotion last season.  The early play was untidy, the wet ball making possession through phases difficult and the slippery ground halting backs moves almost before they had started.

Minety’s hat trick hero from last week, fly half Sam Hughes began to exert his presence on the game making short bursts in midfield and kicking over the top very effectively to release pressure.

It was Hughes who opened the scoring in the 8th minute with a 25 metre penalty kick after a Benger infringement at a ruck. The home side hit back just two minutes later when Callum Harford stroked home a penalty from a similar distance after Minety were caught offside.

With pitch conditions deteriorating fast, the game became mired in midfield.  Minety’s quick backs were unable to move the ball effectively and it was down to the experienced Hughes to manage the plays and kick the ball downfield to break up play and allow Minety to reset.

Minety regained the lead in the 26th minute.  After a series of assaults on the home line had been halted, Minety were awarded a scrum 5 metres out and No. 8 Andrew Hibbard was on hand at the back of the scrum to pick up and drive over for a try.  Hughes kicked the conversion and Minety led by 10-3.

Andrew Hibbard reaches for the line to score Minety’s try in the first half.

Benger struck back, pinning Minety into their own half, moving the ball amongst the forwards and rucking effectively to maintain possession.  The pressure told in the 31st minute when the ball was moved through a number of phases out to the right where a try was scored close to the corner flag.

Perhaps the pivotal moment of the match came just before half time when fly half Hughes was concussed after a heavy tackle and had to be withdrawn.  Coach Grayson was forced to replace his fly half with a prop, Andy Darrall, and re-shuffle his team, now with no experience at half back and little experience elsewhere.

Minety re-organised at half time, centre Jack Howse now playing at fly half for the first time in his career at Minety.  The incessant drizzle had made any sort of open play impossible as players sought grip in the mire.

A long range Harford penalty early in the 2nd half fell short as play became bogged down in midfield, with the physically larger and more settled home team shading both possession and territory.

Benger took the lead for the first time in the game in the 60th minute when one of the game’s only backs moves saw the ball moved swiftly across the pitch for the left wing to touch down near the corner flag.

In the physically taxing conditions, exhausted players began to make mistakes and the game became fragmented.

Fowards battle in the mud

Benger extended their lead in the 77th minute.  Minety were unable to clear their lines and a when a clearance kick fell short the ball was run back.  From a ruck near to the line, Benger moved the ball right and crossed for a try to extend their lead by 18-10.

Needing two scores to win the game, Minety launched a concerted attack on the home line.  A clever chip from stand in full back White almost saw winger Matt Stone in on the right but the Benger defence held out.

As the game entered stoppage time, Benger were penalised in the scrum as Minety pushed them back onto their own line.  After a series of furious attacks close in Benger were again penalised and when the Minety forwards pushed over a home player disrupted the play as Hibbard was about to touch down leaving the referee with no alternative but to award a penalty try.

Over the line – Minety’s penalty try

There was no time for a re-start so Benger took the league points with an 18-17 victory.

Try telling him defeat doesn’t hurt – photo by Caroline Stone

Afterwards coach Andy Grayson said, “I cannot fault our effort or commitment. Everyone gave 100%.  The conditions made it a forward battle and when we lost Sam Hughes we simply couldn’t compensate for the loss.  My Minety Man of the Match had to come from the front row and I chose prop Colin French for his tremendous all round performance in terrible conditions.”

Coach Andy Grayson with his players at the end.

Next week Minety will hope to get their revenge on Trowbridge after a narrow defeat earlier in the season.


Written by Graham Cooke

January 20th, 2019 at 1:13 pm

Hughes hat trick as Minety hit 50

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Hat trick hero, Sam Hughes

2019 has started really well for Minety, as they followed up their impressive victory over Royal Wootton Bassett last week with a crushing 50 -0 win over struggling Supermarine at Minety Fields on Saturday.

Coach Andy Grayson was forced into making 5 changes from last week’s team through injury but used the opportunity to welcome back flanker Kieran Tillotson and full back Matt Roberts, the latter after a long term back injury.

Minety started the match in 7th place in Dorset and Wiltshire Division 1 whilst Supermarine found themselves at the bottom, without a league win to their name this season.

The home team kicked off, playing up the slope, and immediately began playing some of their hallmark rugby, moving the ball swiftly through their mobile forwards to their pacey backs.  In the first minute only a fine defensive tackle prevented winger Duncan Simpson from scoring on the left wing.

It took the home side just 2 minutes to register their first try.  Scrum half Garin Garland fired the ball to fly half Sam Hughes.  The ball went swiftly on, via centre Jack Ward, to Roberts whose pace and guile split the defence wide open allowing winger Chris Rule to score wide on the right.

Chris Rule scores 1st try

Another marvellous run from Roberts, surely the most talented and exciting back in the league when fit, almost set up Hughes and then a break from Number 8 Andrew Hibbard and second row Ben Collins faltered close to the line.

Supermarine, faced with a confident and adventurous Minety, bellied their league position with some excellent tackling and rucking but were always on the back foot.  Minety should have increased their lead on several occasions but over-elaborated plays when a simpler option would have been more productive.

Minety’s 2nd try came in the 11th minute.  A clever chip by Simpson panicked the defence and from the ensuing scrum Garland found the illusive Hughes who sided stepped his way under the posts for the first of his three tries.  Garland converted and Minety were 12 – 0 up.

Sam Hughes crosses for try 2

The third try came straight from the re-start.  Prop Mark Glew caught the ball and then a play involving half of the Minety side saw them up to the Supermarine line.  When 2nd row Ben Scott was tackled metres from the line, Garland found captain Tom Claxton who set up a ruck and it was Collins who reacted first to pick up and score his 2nd try of the season.  Garland’s conversion took Minety to 19 points.

Ben Collins scores try No. 3

Three tries down after 14 minutes would have seen some other clubs buckle under the pressure, but to their credit Supermarine fought back, keeping the ball in tight and denying Minety the space to set up their attacks.

Both Rule and centre Jack Howse probably should have scored before half time but the speed and complexity of the moves led to the ball being lost at the crucial moment with the line beckoning.

When Supermarine did break out of their own half they looked dangerous but superb tackling from Garland, Simpson and Roberts kept them out. The visitors mounted a concerted assault on the Minety line in the closing minutes of the first half but were met with a steely resolve from the home team not to concede any points.

Minety lost combative flanker Jay Thompson to a yellow card early in the second half and then Glew was forced off with a thigh injury, Morgan Aubrey coming on for his 3rd appearance of the season.

Supermarine were reduced to 14 men when their full back saw red after an off the ball incident halted a superb Minety move involving Roberts, Aubrey, Ward and Garland.

Minety’s 4th, and bonus point winning try, came in the 54th minute.  After a move broke down in midfield it was Ward who reacted quickest to a loose ball to run in and score under the posts, Garland converting and the home team now in complete control 26-0 up.

Jack Ward beneath the posts for try No. 4

It was Howse who scored the 5th just three minutes later, ending a move across the pitch and beating three defenders to score out wide on the left.

Jack Howse scores No. 5

In the last ten minutes Minety scored three tries.  In the 72nd Ward and Aubrey combined to tackle and win the ball on the half way line and when Garland fed Howse his flick pass to Simpson saw the winger streak clear to run half the length of the pitch and score beneath the posts.

Duncan Simpson races in for try No. 6

Hughes added Minety’s 7th, and his second, try in the 76th minute, on hand to collect a pass and scythe through to score near the posts, Garland converting.

Sam Hughes grabs No. 7

In stoppage time the impressive Hughes collected his hat trick.  Garland’s tap penalty on the half way line was taken on by Hibbard who passed to Hughes 35 metres out. Somehow the young fly half beat 4 defenders to score a fine try and cap an excellent individual performance.

Sam Hughes caps a fine performance with a hat trick try

Minety almost grabbed a 9th with the final move of the game but Hughes again was denied by a last ditch tackle metres from the line.

Coach Andy Grayson was very pleased with the result.  “We set out to deny them any points, and we did, and we wanted to play our expansive game, which we did.  We scored some nice tries but we did over play some situations.  I know Sam Hughes had a terrific game but my Man of the Match goes to the returning Matt Roberts whose running and tackling was superb throughout.”

Man of the Match: Matt Roberts

Next week Minety make the short journey to Sutton Benger.

Written by Graham Cooke

January 13th, 2019 at 12:18 pm

Minety battle back to form against Bassett

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All local derby matches are keenly fought and the one which pitched 7th placed Minety against 5th placed Royal Wootton Bassett on Saturday was no exception.

It was the village team who emerged victors at the end of a full bloodied affair, storming back from 14-5 down to win 25 – 17 and complete a noteworthy double over their more illustrious neighbours.

The home team, playing down the slope, started brightly, taking the first scrum and sending scrum half Garin Garland down the right.  A high tackle halted his run but Minety opted for a scrum rather than a penalty and their enterprise was rewarded when No. 8 Andrew Hibbard picked up at the base of the scrum and charged the Bassett line.  Further attacks from captain Tom Claxton and flanker Ash Windle were held up but temporary scrum half James Nicksen reversed the direction of play and a fine backs’ move saw the recovering Garland drive over for the opening score in the 4th minute.

Garland scores Minety’s 1st try

Bassett struck back immediately, pinning the home team back in their 22 and moving the ball confidently from side to side as they sought to breach the Minety line.  Only some fearless tackling from centre Jack Howse, flanker Jay Thompson and fly half Tom McAllister kept the Minety line intact but they were helpless to prevent the opening Bassett score.  A long flighted pass split the home defence and the full back was on hand to score near the posts.  The conversion was successful and Bassett led 7-5.

The visitors had clearly rattled a Minety team who had lost their previous 4 matches and only a last gasp tackle from prop Mark Glew prevented a breakaway try direct from the kick off.

Matters worsened for the home team seconds later when full back Ben Langridge suffered nasty ankle ligament damage in a tackle, an injury that could keep him out for several weeks.  Coach Andy Grayson was forced to reorganise, shuffling the back line and bringing on Jack Ward, himself still not match fit after an injury before Christmas.

The visitors increased their lead in the 16th minute from another slick backs’ move which ended with a lovely line from the full back to break the home defence.  Another successful conversion and Bassett had stretched their advantage to 14-5.

The home team struck back, dominating the scrummage and disrupting the Bassett line out and after another burst into the opposition 22 by the powerful Hibbard, Garland fired a pass out to Claxton, unusually positioned out on the wing, and the Minety captain scored his first points of the season wide out on the left.  Garland’s huge conversion kick drifted agonisingly wide but Minety were back in the match just 10-14 down.

Claxton scores Minety’s 2nd try

With both teams playing some lovely rugby, the pace of the game actually increased as did the ferocity of the tackling.  Minety were reduced to 14 players when Ward saw yellow after he took exception to a tackle and its aftermath.

Bassett increased their lead with a penalty in the 29th minute after the home side were caught off side at a ruck.

Minety managed the yellow card period by continuing to dominate at set pieces and through some hard tackling from second rowers Ben Collins and Ben Scott allied to some clever tactical kicking from Tom McAllister and penetrative running from centres Sam Hughes and Chris Rule.

With Ward back on the pitch, Minety took a scrum and attacked down the right. A tap penalty taken by Hibbard saw the No. 8 batter the Bassett defence and the ball was swiftly passed along the line to Nicksen on the right wing, who scored despite a neck high tackle.  The referee awarded Minety a penalty try to bring the scores level at half time.

James Nicken is caught by a high tackle scoring Minety’s 3rd try

Bassett kicked off the 2nd half with the advantage of the slope, usually considered to be worth at least two scores, and Claxton’s team knew that they had their hands full to arrest a slide that has taken them down the league in recent weeks.

With their dominance of set pieces still intact, Minety pushed for the bonus point winning 4th try and looked to have had it when Hibbard picked up at the base of a scrum, charged forward and slipped the ball to the unguarded Garland to run through but the pass was considered forward and play was brought back.  Seconds later another scrum against the head saw Hibbard almost in at the corner before a cross field kick to Hughes ended with the centre held up inches short.  From the recycle, Minety moved the ball along the line and Howse seemed to be over for a try but the ball was dislodged as he dived for the line.

Minety were dominant at this stage, playing their best rugby of the season, and Bassett only held them out with fully committed tackling, rucking and some tactical kicking.

Minety lost centre Hughes to a leg injury, Dave Church coming on to replace him in the centre in the 53rd minute.  The attritional nature of the game saw Howse down after a heavy tackle.  Garland’s penalty attempt in the 60th minute floated wide as both teams fought to break the deadlock.

Minety thought they had a try shortly after when Ward crossed but once again it was brought back, the ball again being dislodged by a defender’s hand.

Tempers flared shortly after and the referee had to separate the two teams and speak to the captains.

Bassett were reduced to 14 men after a yellow card for a high tackle in the 66th minute and Garland stroked home the penalty to put Minety ahead by 20-17.

With both teams now playing some of the most impressive and aggressive rugby seen at Minety this season, something was sure to give and the visitors were reduced to 13 men in the 73rd minute when a player was shown a second yellow and dismissed for another high tackle.

Minety introduced Matt Roberts, back after a long term injury, in the 73rd minute to replace Church but then Windle suffered ankle ligament damage and Church was forced back on to replace him for a frantic last 5 minutes.

The match was settled in stoppage time with the move of the match.  Ward set up a ruck just outside his own 22.  Claxton ran a dummy line and allowed Garland to find Rule who broke through the line, releasing Hibbard.  The No. 8 burst forward up to the Bassett 22 before passing to Garland who scored by the corner flag to put Minety 25-17 up and secure the league bonus point.

Garin celebrates after scoring the 4th try in stoppage time

Garland was yellow carded as Bassett made a desperate last attempt on the Minety line but the home side held out magnificently.

Afterwards coach Grayson praised his teams all round performance.  “We did make it hard for ourselves at times but I can’t fault any of the 18 players who played today.  Special mention must go to centres Chris Rule and Jack Howse and young James Nicksen, but it was the pack that really won it for us and I thought Tom Claxton was a deserved Man of the Match.”

Man of the Match, Tom Claxton


Written by Graham Cooke

January 6th, 2019 at 11:45 am

Minety’s slide continues

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Minety slipped to a 4th straight defeat on Saturday at Pewsey Vale in a match played in possibly the worst conditions this correspondent has witnessed in over 40 years of watching rugby.  In driving rain and a biting wind, the village team, who were only able to field 15 players in total, were beaten 17 – 7 by Pewsey Vale.

The match started 15 minutes early when it was clear that the light was fading fast and the weather was only going to get worse.

James Nicksen

With young James Nicksen, just back from university, thrust into the fly half role and Morgan Aubrey promoted to play No. 8, Tom Claxton’s team faced a huge challenge even before the kick off.

Pewsey, who themselves have found it hard to field full teams regularly this season, started promisingly and their large pack were soon driving Minety back deep in to their own 22.  Two early attacks were only halted by last minute tackles as the skies darkened, the temperature plummeted, the rain increased and spectators were forced back into the club house.

As Minety tried to organise their defences and counteract the conditions, Pewsey opened up the scoring with a try on the right hand side.  The conversion was missed.

Morgan Aubrey

Often caught out by the slippery conditions underfoot and the wet ball, Minety’s pacey backs found themselves enveloped time and time again by the Pewsey defence and it was not until Nicksen started to kick over the top that play moved into the Pewsey half.  This more enterprising approach paid dividends in the 20th minute when, from a forward’s move close to the home line, scrum half Garin Garland picked up the ball and scrambled over near the posts for Minety’s try.  Garland converted the try and Minety led 7 -5.

By this time Mark Glew, who in previous weeks had played at prop, hooker and scrum half, and now found himself in the unaccustomed role of flanker, had picked up a nasty blow to the jaw.  Clearly feeling the effects of the injury he was withdrawn and, without any substitutes, the village team were down to 14 players.  The situation became worse when shortly after Minety’s free running centre Jack Howse attempted an interception, slipped on the slimy surface and fell, catching his head on a Pewsey player’s knee.  With his withdrawal Minety were down to 13 players yet held out against the odds for 15 minutes before they conceded a try just before half time.

With Pewsey leading 12 – 7 and the conditions worsening by the minute, a severely curtailed half time was spent in a huddle out on the pitch before the second half began.

3. Andy Darrell

The 13 soon became 12 when Minety’s other flanker Jay Thompson injured his shoulder and was withdrawn.  Somehow the village team held out with forwards Colin French, Andy Darrall, Ash Windle, Ben Scott and Aubrey putting in huge covering defensive tackles to keep Pewsey out. 

Home pressure began to tell and when Pewsey picked up their third try, exploiting their numerical advantage, the match was effectively over.  The Minety players, tired after a long run of matches and hopelessly outnumbered, tried their best but it was not to be.  The match was eventually ended 8 minutes from time when scrum half Garland was injured and Minety could no longer field a viable team.

The loss, against a team they should have comfortably beaten, demonstrated the threat that an overburdening fixture list can have upon a small club like Minety.  The village team now find themselves in 7th place in the league and adrift of the top four spot that they targeted at the start of the season.

The villagers, who try to field two teams, one in Division 1 and the other in Division 3, have enjoyed just one match free Saturday since 1st September.  In what was their 14th match of the season, Minety, who battled their way through to the Dorset and Wiltshire Senior Vase Final, have had an unbroken run of 9 consecutive Saturday matches and now have not won since defeating Chippenham on the 17th November.

Coach Andy Grayson cut a frustrated figure at the end of the match.  “All credit to Pewsey, who did all that was needed to win the match, but we were battling numbers and the conditions and simply could not keep going.  Everyone gave their all and one only had to look at Ben Scott, who has played in 13 matches since September, to see how exhausted and disappointed the whole team are.  We now have two Saturdays free before we start on the second half of what has been a very difficult season for the club.”

Joint Men of the Match for Minety Andy Darrall and Morgan Aubrey.

Written by Graham Cooke

December 16th, 2018 at 11:12 am

Minety fall to last gasp try

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The league match between 7th placed Minety and 3rd placed Melksham on Saturday was decided only by a late try and conversion as the visitors pulled themselves back from 13 – 0 down to take the points by 15 – 13 in a pulsating and hard fought encounter at Minety Fields.

Beaten only once since the opening day of the season, Melksham came to Minety on a fine run of form and Tom Claxton’s Minety were aware that they would have to be on top form to match them.

Kicking down the slope and with a fierce wind behind them, Minety pushed Melksham back but the opposition soon demonstrated why they hold 3rd place in the league with some assured handling and movement of the ball under pressure.

The home side took the lead in the 5th minute when Garin Garland stroked home a penalty.

Melksham struck back, rucking aggressively and turning the ball over.  Confident in possession, they forced Minety back and only some strong tackling from 2nd row Ben Scott and full back Chris Rule kept them at bay.

Garland used the advantage of the wind to clear Minety’s lines down field but the home side were unable to string together sufficient phases of play to exert real pressure on the Melksham line.

Minety had a chance to double their lead in the 18th minute but a long range penalty drifted wide.  Tempers flared shortly afterwards with the referee being forced to speak to the captains after a melee in midfield following a high tackle on Minety’s free running centre Jack Howse.

Garland kicked the resulting penalty and Minety were 6 – 0 to the good.

Steve White

Melksham were denied the opening try soon after and only some excellent defensive tackling by new Minety centre Will Crisp and flanker Jay Thompson kept the visitors out.  As Melksham continued to play neat and accurate rugby, Minety wingers Ben Langridge and the returning Steve White were both called upon to make telling tackles as the visitors sought to impose themselves on the match.  Melksham’s defensive line speed meant that scrum half Garland and fly half Dave Cooke had little time to settle and set up the backs but it was Garland who reacted first when Minety won a scrummage against the head.  Picking up the loose ball, he sped through a gap and crossed for Minety’s opening try in the 29th minute.  With the conversion successful, Minety were 13-0 up.

Will Crisp

One of the key moments of a tight match came in the 33rd minute when the promising Crisp, playing only his second match for Minety, dislocated his shoulder and was forced off.  A minute later Minety were down to 14 men when No. 8 Gareth Peirce was yellow carded after an infringement at a ruck.

Veteran Dave Church, making his first appearance of the season, replaced Crisp as Minety held off wave after wave of Melksham attacks as half time approached.

The home side ended the half on top as they desperately sought a second try to maximise their advantage of the slope and wind but Howse was stopped short after a good backs move and the sides changed ends with Minety leading 13-0.

The biting wind was augmented by driving rain as the second half got underway.

Melksham transferred territorial advantage into points in the 47th minute with a penalty after the Minety defence were caught off side deep in their own 22.

Coach Andy Grayson brought on Sam Hughes at scrum half, Garland moving to fly half, in an attempt to stem Melksham’s progress.

Despite some heroic defending, Minety were powerless to prevent Melksham scoring their first try on the hour.  A fine move involving numerous phases of play ended when the Melksham hooker touched down near the posts.  The conversion caught in the wind but Melksham were just 5 points behind with 20 minutes left to play.

As both teams chased the next score, which would almost certainly decide the outcome of the match, play became frantic and loose.  A brilliant last ditch tackle by Langridge prevented an almost certain Melksham try in the 76th minute and strong tackling from Rule, Church and Thompson held up Melksham down the centre.

Just when it looked as if the home side might hold on a clearance kicked stalled in the wind and a scrum against the Melksham head saw the ball loose near the Minety line.  Melksham exploited Minety’s desperate attempts to re-organise, with Howse on the ground after a clash of heads.  The ball moved out wide on the right and a good interchange of passes allowed the try to be scored bringing the scores level as the match entered added on time.

Melksham won the game with a fine conversion kick and took the league points by 15-13, the second time in 4 years that a match between the two has been won by Melksham with the last kick of a game.  (24th October 2015 Minety 6 Melksham 9)

Coach Andy Grayson was philosophical in defeat.  “The only reason we lost that game was because we didn’t score enough points in the first half when we had the advantage of both slope and wind.  It was as good a defensive performance as we’ve given all season.  I certainly can’t fault the lads on their efforts.”

Man of the Match, for his superb defensive work out wide, Steve White.

Written by Graham Cooke

December 9th, 2018 at 12:06 pm

Under strength Minety beaten at Combe Down

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One week on from their Senior Vase Final, and with an injury list of epic proportions, Minety travelled to unbeaten Combe Down on Saturday with 14 players and ended the match with just 11.

Whilst the score line of 55 – 10 may give the impression of a hammering, the match was anything but, with the Minety team matching their more illustrious opponents for long periods of the game.

Debutant Will Crisp

Minety gave a debut to centre Will Crisp and used a number of players in new positions to try and manage a Combe Down team averaging over 60 points per match this season against full strength teams.

The villagers more than held their own in the opening exchanges, keeping the ball in centre field and coping well with their numerical disadvantage.  Scrum half Mark Glew organised a makeshift pack, brilliantly led by Andrew Hibbard, and Minety soon had Combe Down defending deep in their own 22.

The village side went behind in the 12th minute.  Combe Down won a lineout in the Minety half and stretched the play back and forth across the pitch before crossing for a try wide out on the left.

Down’s second try came soon after.  Despite ferocious tackling from Glew, Crisp and full back Chris Rule, Minety couldn’t keep out an attack on the right which led to a try beneath the posts.  The conversion was successful and the runaway  league leaders were 12 – 0 up.

Minety missed the chance to get on the score board in the 25th minute when Ash Windle’s penalty slipped narrowly wide.  The contrast in approaches was marked: Minety kept the ball in the centre of the field and used close passing to maintain possession while Combe Down sought to exploit their 1 man advantage by kicking the ball and chasing.

The home side increased their lead in the 30th minute with a try out wide on the right and added a 4th two minutes later, using pace and the width of the pitch to out flank Minety’s defence.

Minety captain Tom Claxton, flanker Gareth Peirce and Hibbard drove the village team back on the attack and their enterprise and endeavour was rewarded when Windle kicked a penalty in the 35th minute.

Two minutes later fly half Dave Cooke took a flying interception and ran 60 metres to score beneath the posts, Windle converting, to bring the score back to a much more respectable and representative 24 – 10.

Fly half Dave Cooke races clear for Minety’s try

Now down to 13 players, with veteran 2nd row Phil Ward withdrawn with a neck injury, Minety battled to see the half out.  Crisp’s clever chip through almost set up a second try but the ball bounced unkindly and the chance was lost.

Against the run of play, it was the home side who scored with the last play of the half.  A break from deep in their own half saw Combe Down spread the ball wide, stretching the defence, and ended with the right winger scoring beneath the posts.

Minety opened the second half brightly, moving the ball confidently and forcing the home side back.  Strong running from Rule, Matt Stone and Crisp pushed the home side deep into their own half and Minety should have had a second try when the overlapping Cooke was free out on the left but the pass went behind and out of play.

With 2nd row Ben Scott dominant at the lineout, Minety more than matched the top of the table outfit but a kick and chase downfield ended with a Combe Down try and a 38 – 10 lead after 53 minutes.

The home side’s 7th try came two minutes later.  Once again, Minety were unable to cover a quick break down the left wing.

The 13 men soon became 12 when scrum half Mark Glew’s terrific performance was halted by a nasty leg injury forcing him off the field in the 63rd minute.

Undeterred and outnumbered, Minety were soon back on the attack again, flanker Rob Hinwood stopped metres from the line and then Stone, Scott and prop Colin French all going close.

Windle missed a penalty chance in the closing minutes before Come Down scored two more tries against an exhausted Minety team before the referee called a halt to proceedings when Minety lost fly half Cooke to an ankle injury, leaving the final score 55 – 10.

Dave Peirce, managing the team in coach Andy Grayson’s absence said afterwards, “I was really proud of all the lads.  Combe Down are a very good side and have put over 100 points on a couple of teams this season but we gave everything and all the lads can hold their heads up high.  It was a fantastic effort from a patched up team.  I can’t single out a player for man of the match – they all deserved that accolade.”

In the weekend’s other match, Minety 2nd XV beat Bath Saracens 65 – 22 at Minety Fields to move up to 4th place in Dorset and Wiltshire Division 3.



Written by Graham Cooke

December 2nd, 2018 at 12:02 pm

Minety lose in epic final

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Wiltshire’s Minety RFC lost in the final of the Dorset and Wiltshire Senior Vase to the Dorset Dockers from Christchurch by 36 points to 17 in a terrific match played at Salisbury on Saturday.

For once this season, Coach Andy Grayson, was able to put out a near full strength Minety side as they endeavoured to win the Vase for the second time in four years.

Under grey skies and with a fine mist in the air, the Dockers, beaten only once this season and having amassed 235 points in their last three games, kicked off in front of a good crowd.

Minety immediately showed their intent to attack from defence, flanker Ben Sellick catching the kick off and running straight back at the heart of the Docker’s defence before fly half Tom McAllister, scrum half Garin Garland and full back Duncan Simpson combined to run the ball up to the half way line.

Minety’s enterprising start almost brought them the first score after just 5 minutes when Garland collected from a line out and almost made it to the try line.

The powerful and well organised Dorset team certainly knew that they were in for a tough afternoon as the visibly smaller Minety pack competed well at the early scrummages and lineouts.

Dorset opened the scoring with a penalty in the 16th minute and increased their lead 3 minutes later.  Strong and powerful  running in midfield set up a chance for their right winger to burst through a tackle and touch down for the opening try and an 8 – 0 lead.

Minety came back strongly, Sellick running at the defence before off-loading to centre Jack Howse.  When McAllister spotted gaps in the defence his clever chip kick pushed the Dockers back onto their own line.  Minety missed a chance to get on the board in the 30th minute when a long range penalty kick dropped short but they hit back two minutes later.  The Minety pack, superbly led by captain Tom Claxton and No. 8 Andrew Hibbard, won a scrum against the head and then won a penalty in the Dockers 22.  Garland’s quick tap kick took him under the posts but the play was ruled out by the referee, however  the subsequent kick was successful.

Both teams knew that a score in the minutes leading up to half time could be crucial in terms of momentum and the game opened up, players running the ball whenever they could.

Deep in 1st half added time Minety tried to run the ball out of defence but a pass was intercepted and run back in for the Dockers’ 2nd try , converted this time, and a half time lead of 15 – 3.

The Dorset team started the second half strongly, running hard at the Minety defence.  Whilst the villagers were able to withstand the barrage, it came at a cost when the influential Sellick was injured and had to be replaced in the 46th minute.  Soon after the pressure told as the Dockers’ No 8 forced his way over for their 3rd try, converted, and a 22-3 lead.

The Dorset team, somewhat flattered by the score line, grew in confidence and stretched the Minety defence on numerous occasions but Grayson’s men tackled like demons and refused to give up an inch without a fight.

As the game entered its last quarter it was Minety who dominated the territory but the villagers were unable to transform territorial advantage into points as move after move was thwarted by the fine Dockers’ defence.

Another scrummage win against the head took Minety within reach of the Dockers’ line but replacements Del Murray and Andy Darrall and then Garland were all halted just short.

Against the run of play it was the Dorset team who scored next.  In arguably the move of the game they passed their way out of their own 22 right up to the Minety 22 and then fashioned a fine overlap move to allow their fly half to run in from 10 metres.  The successful conversion saw the Dockers in complete control 29 – 3 up and with just 10 minutes left on the clock.

Refusing to let their heads drop, Minety pushed on and a move involving McAllister, Simpson and winger Dave Cooke opened up the Dorset defence at last.  Cooke’s long pass in field allowed Hibbard to run through to score the villagers opening try.  Garland’s conversion was successful.

Andrew Hibbard touches down for Minety’s 1st try

With both teams tiring, the game opened up and a series of missed tackles allowed the Dockers their 5th try, the No. 8 touching down beneath the posts.

Fittingly, it was Minety who finished the scoring.  Attacking once again, they won a penalty and from  Garland’s tap the ball went out to winger Ben Langridge, who burst through 3 tackles to score Minety’s 2nd try.  Garland kicked the conversion and the game finished with the Dorset Dockers victorious by 36 – 17.

Ben Langridge, with ball, celebrates Minety’s 2nd try

Coach Andy Grayson was upbeat after the game.  “They were a really good side who hit the ball at pace and from depth.  We never gave up and showed the true Minety spirit that makes this club so very special.  We scored two really good tries and I know there’s not a player out there who could have done more. I’m very proud of them.”

The Minety Senior Vase Final Squad 24th November 2018

Man of the Match for Minety: Andrew Hibbard.

Written by Graham Cooke

November 25th, 2018 at 12:41 pm