Saturday 10 December 2011
Dorset & Wilts Division 1 North
Calne 1st XV 24pts – Minety 1st XV 22pts
Minety narrowly came off second best in a thrilling Christmas encounter at Calne which saw the lead change hands several times before the home side kicked the winning conversion in the dying minutes of the game.
With many first team regulars unavailable, Minety were forced to draw heavily on their second team squad for this game. Far from weakening the side, the resulting combination seemed much strengthened and if finesse were ever lacking, heart and commitment certainly were not.
And this was a ding-dong battle right from the start, with the two sides evenly matched and determined to make a game of it. Minety took an early lead thanks to a try from outside centre Luke Radcliffe, showing the home side a clean pair of heels as he sprinted past and through their efforts at defence.
Back came Calne, drawing Minety into a forward tussle on the right flank and then setting up a two-man overlap as they spread the ball wide and left for Keith Bradley to run in a try to level the score.
Showing electrifying form, Radcliffe’s pace and strength took him past three opponents on the way to his second try, dotting the ball down under the posts. An easy conversion followed by a missed penalty goal just before the interval left the score at 5-12 in Minety’s favour at the break.
Playing uphill in the second half, Minety extended their lead thanks to an inspired chip kick over the defence from scrumhalf Andy Brown. Looking sharp, Bobbie Tilling streamed through in pursuit, touching down for an unconverted try.
Calne came back smartly, exerting pressure until they extracted a penalty deep in Minety’s 22. A tap and go, quick hands and James Morton was over for a try out wide.
After a successful conversion by Matt Kelly, Calne returned to the attack, retaining possession through several phases before Morton again crossed the line for a try.
With the score at 17-all, Minety worked their way back up the slope and, having tied their opponents into a forward battle on the right flank, slipped the ball out to a waiting line of players. Prop Martin Coe took the vital pass and powered over for what looked like the winning try.
Calne pressed hard from the restart, pinning their opponents back. Minety defended resolutely, led by the stalwart example of lock Craig Smith, but ended with the put-in at a five metre scrum. The Calne pack got a shove on, disrupting Minety’s heel and causing the ball to squirt out of the formation. Before Brown could field it, Mike McCaffrey had pounced for Calne, levelling the scores at 22-all.
The game hung on Kelly’s conversion attempt, but he made no mistake. Calne had the win, leaving Minety the consolation of a bonus point for four tries and another for losing by less than seven points.