Minety 39 - Pewsey Vale 22
Fly half Sam Hughes and Number 8 Andrew Hibbard were the undoubted stars as Minety completed a deserved 39 – 22 win over Pewsey Vale on Saturday, and in so doing moved above Trowbridge into 6th place in Dorset and Wilts Division 1 with just match left in the season.
Both teams played with a ferocity that left a number of players injured and many more nursing knocks that will take some days to recover.
Pewsey started the match kicking down the slope but soon found the home team making incursions into their territory thanks to some quick bursts from scrum half Garin Garland, returning to action after 5 weeks out through injury.
Minety opened the scoring in the 5th minute. When Hughes picked up the ball 30 metres out there seemed little chance of a try but the fly half danced his way past 5 defenders to score beneath the posts.
Sam Hughes scores Minety’s first try in the 5th minute
With Garland orchestrating the moves and speedy flankers Mark Glew and Morgan Aubrey pressing forward, Minety began to play the sort of free flowing rugby that had been their hallmark earlier in the season before injuries deprived them of so many players.
Garin Garland before his injury
Pewsey used the slope well and some defensive kicking soon saw them camped on the Minety try, using their mobile pack and powerful backs to pin the village team back. Fine tackling by second row Matt Chisholm and winger Duncan Simpson frustrated Pewsey’s attempts and kept the home side ahead until a pivotal moment in the match on 20 minutes when Garland had to be helped from the pitch after sustaining what looked to be a concussion. Minety coach Andy Grayson brought on young Sam Waldron and moved Glew to scrum half as cover.
Pewsey scored their first try shortly after, a forwards’ move seeing them push over the line to touch down in the 23rd minute. The conversion was missed so Minety still lead by 7 – 5.
With Glew and Hughes now working well at half back and Hibbard always a threat in the loose, Minety pressed for a score before half time, centre Chris Rule hauled down metres from the line after a fine burst through the defence, prop Colin French on hand to take up the charge.
Pewsey were denied a try in the 36th minute when the final pass of a fluent cross field move went forward as the physicality of the encounter took its toll, French forced off after a heavy tackle and Dan Wilson entering the fray, the 48th player to wear the Minety 1st XV shirt this season. With Glew moving to prop as cover, centre Del Murray took up the scrum half role as the half entered no less than 13 minutes of stoppage time.
A 60 metre, lung busting run up the slope from Hibbard released the Pewsey pressure and after attempts by captain Tom Claxton and prop Andy Darrall, Hughes kicked a penalty to end the half with Minety leading 10 -5.
Sam Hughes kicks Minety into a 12-5 lead before half time
The second half was just seconds old when Hibbard picked up a loose ball in a ruck and ran in 30 metres to score beneath the posts, Hughes adding the conversion to send Minety 17-5 up.
Andrew Hibbard scores Minety’s second try in the 41st minute
Murray’s break shortly after almost set up Wilson on the wing but when the ball came back in field it went to ground and the chance was lost.
Hughes extended the lead in the 51st minute with a penalty and then scored his second try when a loose ball popped up into his hands at the end of a lovely move involving centre Bram Coleman, Hibbard and full back Mike Scott.
Sam Hughes scores his 2nd and Minety’s third try in the 53rd minute
In the 56th minute Hughes was denied a try controversially after another brilliant solo run when it was claimed he had not grounded the ball properly and then moments later he burst passed 5 defenders before off loading to Claxton but the ball went to ground when a try seemed the only outcome possible.
Sam is denied a hat trick after apparently not grounding this attempt.
In the 62nd minute Claxton was prevented from grounding the ball over the line but from the ensuing scrum Minety pushed over and Hibbard touched down for his second try and Minety’s bonus point winning 4th try.
Andrew Hibbard registers his second and Minety’s 4th try in the 64th minute
Minety’s 5th try came straight from the kick off. Glew burst forward before offloading to winger Simpson. He evaded the first line of defence before passing to Hibbard who ran in to score his second half hat trick try beneath the posts. Hughes slotted home the conversion and Minety led 39-5.
Andrew Hibbard’s hat trick try and Minety’s 5th in the 64th minute
The game became much more open as it entered the last 10 minutes and only a brilliant tackle from Murray prevented Pewsey after a breath taking 80 metre move almost saw the visitors score a break away try. Pewsey’s enterprise was rewarded with a third try shortly after and they added a 4th, and bonus point winning try in the 80th minute, a point which may prove vital at the end of the season.
Del Murray’s brilliant try saving tackle late on
Coach Andy Grayson was rightly proud of his team. “There were moments of individual brilliance that caught the eye but the team played well as a whole. Andy Darrall had a great game at prop and Morgan Aubrey caught, carried and tackled well throughout the game. If I had to name a man of the match I’d have to give it to Andrew Hibbard for his ball carrying and his hat trick of tries although it’s hard to overlook a stunning individual performance from Sam Hughes.”
Whoops! Someone drops the ball with the try line beckoning.
The win takes Minety above Trowbridge into 6th place in the league with just one fixture remaining of the season, against 4th placed Warminster at Minety Fields next Saturday.