Minety 38 - Frome 0
To paraphrase Shakespeare, “And absent Minety supporters, Shall think themselves accursed they were not here.” Minety 38 Frome 0.
The talk after the match, in the club house, was not so much about how good a performance it was. Most present were trying to remember a better Minety performance … and failing.
Recent wins over Melksham And Royal Wootton Bassett and a narrow loss at Sutton Benger, all top four teams in the league, have shown what Minety are really capable of. That the village team started the day in a perilous 10th place in a 12 team league shows just how varied performances have been this season. But the feeling in the club since Christmas is that the squad is more settled, the structures are in place and there is a real confidence building.
Frome came into the match in 5th place but with a very real chance of overtaking Sutton Benger in 4th and on a pitch that had just passed a grounds inspection on Friday and then been saturated by overnight rain, Minety’s task was never going to be easy.
Captain Andrew Hibbard lost the toss and Minety were forced to play down the slope in the first half in the knowledge that a good lead would be needed by half time if they were to win the match.
Frome’s confident handling saw them dominate the early minutes of the game in terms of possession but some fine and aggressive Minety tackling pinned the Somerset team back in their own half, flanker Kieran Tillotson leading the way.
With second row Matt Chisholm catching well at the lineout, scrum half Garin Garland and fly half Sam Hughes were able to set Minety up early for some attacking play along the backs in spite of the cloying conditions and slippery ball.
Minety opened the scoring in the 8th minute. Tillotson stole a Frome lineout deep in their 22 and 2nd row Bram Coleman flicked the ball out to Hughes, who burst forward and was brought down a metre from the line. Coleman was again in the centre of the action, taking up the ball from Garland and stretching the Frome defence. The ball was recycled across the pitch for hooker Mar Glew to launch an attack out wide on the left and from the ensuing ruck Garland spotted Andrew Hibbard’s beautifully timed run and the captain raced over, touching down beneath the posts. Garland’s conversion was straightforward and Minety led 7 – 0.
Wallace touches down for the 1st try
As Frome hit back, Minety’s tackling was exceptional with hardly a tackle missed. Flankers Jay Thompson and Tillotson closed down space and Frome struggled to break the game line time and time again. If there was to be a criticism of the home team it was that sometimes they overplayed situations, flinging the passes along the line and spreading play out rather than adopting a more pragmatic style of play, keeping it tight in centre field, in the light of the difficult conditions.
Minety’s centre partnership of Chris Rule and Duncan Simpson continually pressurised the Frome backs with their line speed as the visitors attempted to gain a foothold in a tight and entertaining first half. When the aggressive Minety tackling forced Frome into giving away penalties Hughes’ kicking and Minety’s control at the subsequent lineout relieved pressure as the half wore on.
Whilst Minety were dominant in virtually every aspect of the game, coach James Irving cut a frustrated figure on the touchline as chances came and went as Minety sought for second try with the half and the advantage of the slope slipping away.
Garland increased the lead in the 31st minute after Frome were penalised 30 metres out for a dump tackle on Tillotson.
Frome’s kick off sailed directly into touch and from the scrum Hibbard picked up and fed Garland who made progress towards half way, releasing winger Dave Cooke. His run took Minety to the Frome 22. Simpson won the ball at the ruck and Garland sent a long pass out to Hughes who set Hibbard up for a run into the 22. Garland picked up and made ground towards the line but when he was stopped he passed to Cooke, who side stepped the defence and slipped through a narrow gap to touch down beneath the posts. Garland slotted the conversion and Minety were 17 points up.
Dave Cooke after scoring Minety’s 2nd try
Dominant Minety should have increased their lead a minute later. Hughes’ launched a bombshell of a clearance kick down field and Simpson’s follow up tackle saw the ball break free. Winger Jesse Daybell kicked through but was unable to pick up the ball cleanly with the try line beckoning and the chance went begging.
But Minety were soon to gain their third try of the half. After a Hughes penalty pinned Frome back deep in their 22, Hibbard caught the lineout, the Minety forwards gathered and pushed the Frome defence back and prop Andy Darrell collected and drove over. Garland’s conversion was out on the right was successful and the two teams turned around at half time with Minety leading 24 points to 0.
Andy Darrall (3) crashes through for the 3rd try.
With the slope against them and the pitch cutting up badly, it was essential that Minety kept the game tight at the start of the second half to hold back a determined Frome unit. Once again, the fast line speed and demon tackling kept Frome at bay and when they did kick overhead, new full back Joe Smedley was calm under pressure and cleared his lines efficiently.
When Daybell was forced off with what looked like cramp, Irving introduced winger Alex Binnie to the fray and his pace immediately unsettled the Frome defence.
When Minety broke free they played some lovely rugby, exemplified by a move from a lineout. Tillotson caught and passed the ball back to Garland, who made ground, before passing to Hughes. With Cooke running a dummy line and slowing the Frome defensive line, Hughes found Smedley in the line and his pass to front row forward Hugo Beanland pushed Minety into the Frome half. From the ruck Garland fed Hughes and then Hibbard before bursting through himself, finding Simpson with a perfectly timed pass. The centre made good ground before popping the ball to Rule whose off load found Garland again. His quick pass to Hughes saw the fly half cut back through four tackles to touch down beneath the posts for what was certainly Minety’s best try of the season and a four try league bonus point. Garland kicked his third conversion to stretch the lead to 31 points.
Sam Hughes scores Minety’s 4th try
Rather than sitting back, Minety launched attack after attack on the tiring Frome defence, Beanland brought down just metres from the line.
Minety’s 5th and final try came in the 67th minute. From a scrum on half way, Hibbard collected the ball at the base of the scrum. When he was halted, the ball came back to garland who kicked over the Frome defence. The ball was collected but a pass went astray and Binnie was on hand to pick up and race in wide on the left for the try.
Alex Binnie dives over for the final try
Garland was clearly determined not to ruin his 100% kicking record and calmly slotted his 5th conversion from out near the touchline to end the scoring 38-0.
Coach Irving was able to clear his bench, bringing on Rob Hinwood and Charles Grayson as Minety held off a Frome team determined to register a score before full time.
Coach James Irving delivers the post game team talk.
Perhaps there have been occasions when Minety have allowed teams back into a game late on, but this squad were in no mood to surrender any points. The tackling was just as sharp in the last ten minutes as it had been in the first ten and despite making a herculean effort, Frome were denied any points.
Minety’s five league points pushes the club up from 10th to 8th place in the league.
The match winning squad
Team: Hugo Beanland, Mark Glew, Andy Darrall, Bram Coleman, Matt Chisholm, Jay Thompson, Kieran Tillotson, Andrew Hibbard (c), Garin Garland, Sam Hughes, Dave Cooke, Duncan Simpson, Chris Rule, Jesse Daybell, Joe Smedley, Rob Hinwood, Charles Grayson & Alex Binnie