Playing at home for the first time this season, both Minety teams registered confident wins, the 1st XV against local rivals Sutton Benger, the 2nd XV versus Melksham.
Tom Claxton’s 1st XV took to the newly refurbished pitch at Minety knowing that Sutton Benger would be a major hurdle to overcome. Beaten only once in 22 outings last season to win promotion to the top tier, Benger had enjoyed an opening day win against Chippenham and put in a spirited display before succumbing to a slightly under par Minety by 27 – 10.
Consistent drizzle in the previous 12 hours had left the surface greasy and a blustery wind provided challenging conditions for good rugby.
Minety kicked off into the wind and were soon using the pace they possess in the backs to push the visitors back with runs from centre Chris Rule, scrum half Sam Hughes and full back Duncan Simpson.
Benger found it impossible to get out of their half in the first 10 minutes as Minety launched attack after attack but the visitors’ quick defensive line speed and tackling kept the home team from scoring.
Against the run of play, Benger opened the scoring in the 13th minute with their first serious incursion into the Minety half. A clearance kick and a series of forwards’ moves pushed them to the Minety 22 and a clever break from their fly half released the winger to score near the corner flag.
Minety thought they had an equaliser 2 minutes later. Hughes fired a long pass out to fly half Jack Ward, who burst the line before off-loading to Simpson to touch down beneath the posts but a Benger hand prevented the grounding and Minety were denied.
The home side didn’t have to wait long. Simpson caught a clearance kick 40 metres out and flung a long pass to Hughes. His huge “up and under” was allowed to bounce and winger Ben Langridge was quickest to react and seized the opportunity to score. Ward drilled the conversion between the posts and Minety led 7-5.
As Sutton Benger grew in confidence so they began to dominate possession, rucking efficiently and keeping the ball tight in mid field, denying the fast paced Minety attack from doing too much damage. However the home team were always dangerous when the ball went loose and a beautiful move involving Hughes, Ward, number 8 Ben Sellick and outside centre Jack Howse was only stopped by some desperate Benger defensive work.
As the half came to an end Minety pushed forward again and pressed the Benger line. The pressure told when the prolific Sellick picked up at the base of a scrum 5 metres out and crashed through the defence to score and put the home side 12-5 up.
Coach Andy Grayson made three changes at half time, giving a season’s debut to 2nd row Ash Windle, bringing on Colin French to replace Cameron Smith at prop and substituting Dave Cooke for the returning Steve White.
The home side dominated the early exchanges in the 2nd half with Simpson secure under the high ball and Ward putting in crunching tackles in midfield.
Ward stroked home a penalty in the 45th minute after another huge kick from Hughes had caused panic in the Benger defence.
To their credit, the visitors stormed back once again, using their forward power and keeping the ball in tight. A tap penalty set up their 2nd try, the forwards rucking aggressively before the ball went out wide on the right for a try.
Man of the Match: Duncan Simpson
Minety struck back immediately from the restart. Simpson launched a kick up field and was first on hand to pick up after a defensive drop, off-loading to Sellick, who ran in under the posts to score to extend Minety’s lead to 20-10.
Almost all of the last 10 minutes was played in the Sutton Benger half as Minety sought their bonus point winning 4th try but they had to wait until the 77th minute for that to come. The impressive 2nd row Ben Scott caught a lineout ball on the Benger 22. Hughes slipped a pass to Rule and then carried the ball on again to break the line. Simpson took the ball on almost to the line before passing to Howse to score beneath the posts. Ward converted and Minety were home by 27-10.
The win keeps Minety in 4th place in Division 1, just one point behind 2nd placed Avonvale.
Man of the Match was Duncan Simpson.
In the other match, Steve Wilson’s Minety 2nds defeated Melksham by 39-7 in a free flowing game. Dave White put in a match winning performance, running in 3 tries for the home team, who move up to 5th in Division 3.
There are no matches for Minety teams next week with the 1st XV being seeded directly through to the semi final of the Dorset and Wilts Senior Vase competition.