With the 1st XV enjoying a rare weekend off, all eyes were focused upon Matt Stone’s Minety 2nd XV as they headed to Devizes for a Dorset and Wilts Division 3 North match on Saturday.
With the teams separated by just 6 points in the league, Devizes being 7th and Minety 8th, and the season rapidly nearing its end, this match was a “must win” for both sides.
The opening exchanges were even, with defences on top. Devizes were clearly the heavier and stronger in the scrum and their domination tested Minety’s defensive line again and again. Somewhat against the run of play, Minety opened the scoring. Exploiting a lack of numbers down the right, Minety’s backs pulled the Devizes defence one way and then the other before a quick interchange of passes saw veteran front row forward Steve Murray run through to score under the posts. Will Mason kicked the conversion and Minety were 7-0 up.
Minety doubled their lead soon after. Once again, the Devizes scrum put pressure on the Minety pack but from the disrupted play, scrum half Garin Garland spotted an opening and broke through. Winger Kieran Gash cut back against the run of play and Garland’s long pass saw the winger through and under the posts. Once again Mason slotted the conversion and Minety were 14 points to the good.
Minety continued to exploit spaces out wide and pushed their opponents back into their own 22 metre area. When the home team were penalised for a rucking offence Garland took a quick penalty and his pass saw captain Matt Stone through for Minety’s third try. Mason’s conversion was successful and Minety were 21 -0 up.
Devizes hit back and scored an unconverted try shortly before half time to reduce the arrears to 21-5.
Minety’s efforts in the first half took their toll early in the second. With some fatigue and a little complacency, they let Devizes come back at them and the pressure told when Devizes scored their second try to reduce the deficit to 11.
The villagers were immediately on the back foot from the restart. A lost ball and a couple of missed tackles saw Devizes score their third try, this one converted.
With the score now Devizes 17 Minety 21, the visitors rallied and regained some of the fire and form that had seen them so dominant in the first half. Pressure eventually saw centre Tom Windle break through two tackles to score what was Minety’s final try with Mason converting again to end the match Devizes 17 Minety 28.
The “4 try bonus point” means that Minety 2nds are just 2 league points behind Devizes with the village team sporting a much superior points difference as the two teams prepare for the final league matches of the season on the 22nd April when Minety entertain 4th placed Warminster and Devizes host 2nd placed Alfred’s Nomads.
Captain Matt Stone praised the efforts of his team after the match. “It was a patched up team but everyone came together and I thought our first half performance was tremendous. We did switch off a bit at the start of the second half and had to show real determination not to allow Devizes to overwhelm us. The bonus point was just what we hoped for and 7th place in the league is definitely there for the taking.”
Man of the Match: Mike Scott