Saturday 30 November 2013
Dorset & Wilts Division 1 North
Minety defy Devizes
Devizes 2nd XV 15pts – Minety 1st XV pts 29pts
Minety moved up to second in the league with a hard-fought bonus point win at Devizes.
The two sides observed a minute’s silence before the game to honour the passing of Devizes stalwart and club president Les Dowse.
Minety scored first with a penalty goal from skipper Jack Ward, but Devizes flyhalf Gareth Davies soon replied in kind.
After that, neither team were able to score until late in the half, when Minety’s Pete Hazell pounced on loose ball. He broke two tackles before offloading to flyhalf Tom Fitzcharles. He in turn drew the last defender and then slipped the ball to scrumhalf Duncan Simpson, who went over for a try.
Ward converted to make it 3-10.
With only a minute left until the break, Tom Windle caught the restart on his 22 and set off with an intensity which took Devizes by surprise. His speed, side-step and hand-off took him through five tackles before Davies hauled him down five metres short of the line. Quick rucking kept the move alive and when Simpson whisked the ball to Fitzcharles, he was over before the home team could stop him. Ward’s conversion made it 3-17 at half time.
Playing on the wing despite a recent career at prop, Martin Coe added to Minety’s score five minutes into the second half with a 30 metre dash that capped a series of swift rucks. He swerved past two defenders and brushed off two more before touching down in the corner.
Devizes came back strongly, camping on their opponents’ line. Under pressure in the scrum, Minety repeatedly offended and the referee awarded a penalty try. Davies’ easy conversion made it 10-22.
Minety moved Dale Langdown to flyhalf, where his pace and vision created plentiful attacking opportunities. When Devizes spilled possession having apparently halted the visitors’ latest sally, flanker Steve Brown grabbed the ball and plunged for the line. Tackled just short, he popped a pass to Simpson who landed the try.
Another good kick from Ward made it 10-27 but Devizes had the last word. Winning scrum ball just inside their own half, they moved it out to centre Craig Hurcombe. He drew his man and then offloaded to fullback Eddy Darragh, who went over for the final try of the game.
The above match report, which was included in Minety’s weekly press release, was based on the much fuller account of the game written up by club coach Huw Jones, which is given in its unedited entirety below. The names of Devizes’ players in the press release version of the report above were taken from the match report on their club website, which you’ll find here: Devizes’ version of events.
The bright winter sunshine went some way to lightening the mood at Devizes for the visit of Minety. A minutes’ silence was observed prior to the start of the game to honour the passing of Devizes RFC stalwart and Club President Les Dowes. His association with the Saddlebacks goes back over 50 years, first as a player in the 60s and 70s and then as committee member, steward and President. Devizes were not able to mark the occasion with a win but he would have been immensely proud of the attitude and commitment of both sides in creating a wonderful 80 minutes of rugby union. Despite Devizes starting well it was the visitor’s who opened the scoring. Minety’s captain Jack Ward kicking a three pointer before Devizes outside half responded with a penalty to level the scores. Minety then gained the ascendancy and put some pressure on the Devizes defence but were unable to convert their pressure into points. Inevitably the tide turned and Devizes enjoyed a prolonged period in the ascendency. Surging runs from the Devizes centres tested the Minety defence to the full but it remained impenetrable. Despite territory, pressure and numerous penalties in the “red zone” the thin green line remained intact. This seemed to put wind in the Minety sails and they finished the half strongly. With only minutes left in the first half Pete Hazel pounced on a loose ball and broke two tackles before off loading to Tom Fitzcharles. Text book play from the Minety stand off saw him draw the last defender to put fellow half back partner Duncan Simpson over for the try. Ward converted to make it 3 – 10. With only a minute of the half left it looked as though that was going to be the half time score. However Minety had other ideas. From the re-startTom Windle fielded the ball on the Minety 22m line. He set off up the pitch with an intensity which took the flagging Devizes team by surprise. The sight of the big man on the hoof was clearly not enticing for the Devizes tacklers who all bar one succumbed to Windle’s speed, side step or smash. He was eventually hauled down just 5m short of the line. With the ball recycled quickly the try was a formality. Out it came from scrum half Simpson to Fitzcharles who, having already made one scoring pass in the game, characteristically declined the 3 man overlap to scramble over under the posts to claim the try for himself. Ward, who was well placed to receive the Fitzcharles pass ahd it materialise had to settled for adding the conversion. Half time score 3 – 17. Five minutes into the second half Minety were on the score board again. Club record try scorer Martin Coe, starting on the wing for the first time this season, finished a superb passage of play. Several quick rucks on the right hand touch line sucked in the Devizes defenders. The ball was moved swiftly into the middle. From the ensuing ruck the ball was moved left with an array of inter passing that found Coe with the ball. As he built up a considerable head of steam there were only two out of position defenders between him and the try line 30 metres away. A deft side step and swerve got him past the two defenders. Power and pace brushed off a further two cover tacklers and he powered over in the corner. Ward was unable to extend the lead from the touch line and the score remained 3 – 22. Devizes started to re-group and had a period of pressure on the Minety line. A series of penalties and scrums eventually led the referee to award a penalty try – his patience exhausted by the Minety scrum. The conversion a formality and the score 10 – 22. The Minety of old may have capitulated under the Devizes pressure but not this lot. With Dale Langdown now calling the shots at outside half he found holes all over the place. His turn of speed and vision to put players into gaps resulted in Minety final try of the afternoon. Langdown put Ward through a big hole in the Devizes defence before being hauled down. Quickly the ball was moved wide where Minety managed to loose the ruck. So surprised were Devizes that they juggled the ball. It eventually escaped their grasp and bounced away. The omnipresent flanker Steve Brown was first to react – despite only returning from celebrating his birthday a few hours earlier. His searing breaking sliced clean through the home side’s defence. Ears pinned back he was scragged a few metres short. His pop off the floor to Duncan Simpson was straight out of the warm up and the Minety nine took that ball at full tilt and with it the opportunity to double his tally for the afternoon. Ward’s conversion took the score to 10 – 29 but with 15 minutes still to play Devizes had one more try in them. With only a few minutes left Devizes were awarded a scrum just inside their own half. The ball was whipped out by scrum half to stand off and onto the impressive inside centre. His barn storming runs had caused trouble for Minety all afternoon. With the visitors back line flat footed waiting for the tackle he drew the defender and gave the ball to Devizes left winger who sprinted to the line, handing off a covering Minety defender to register a well deserved score. With the try unconverted and the score at 15 – 29 the referee brought the game to a close. Minety took the spoils and a winning bonus point. Devizes took some solace in a spirited and disciplined performance. Both sides can look back and congratulate themselves on their contributions to a great game of rugby – one that Les Dowse would have really enjoyed – and that was a fitting tribute indeed.