Minety pulled off one of the biggest wins of the season with a shock bonus point win at high flying Royal Wootton Bassett yesterday to ease their relegation worries.
Against a team running 2nd in the Dorset and Wilts Division 1 North league, who had scored more points than any other team, and who were able to put out a team with a full bench of replacements, Minety’s threadbare side, featuring numerous players playing out of position and with just coach James Irving on the bench, staged a stunning second half comeback to win 30 points to 21 and, in so doing, move up from 11th in the table to 9th, jumping above both Marlborough and Calne.
On a bright, cold and very windy afternoon, Minety knew they were in for a real battle as Bassett’s powerful running side soon had the villagers on the back foot. Prop Hugo Beanland was an early injury, picking up a nasty blow to the head whilst bringing down a Bassett back as he burst through, but the early pressure told when Minety lost possession 30 metres out in open play and Bassett’s strong outside centre picked up and raced through the defence to score.
Minety thought that they had a first try when scrum half Sam Hughes picked up from the base of a scrum and darted through the smallest of gaps only for the referee to call the play back and award Minety the scrum. Undeterred, Minety hit back and some quick moves involving the more agile, but admittedly lightweight, backs saw Del Murray, playing at full back, latch onto an opening to barge his way through to score a try out wide on the right in the 16th minute. Hughes’s conversion caught in the gale and missed but Minety were back in the game.
Hard running second rows Matt Chisholm and Colin French were always a threat in open play with hooker Matt Park and prop Andy Darrell tackling anything in midfield.
Minety took the lead in the 31st minute when Hughes slotted home a penalty but then Minety surrendered the lead shortly before half time. The pack were penalised at a scrum for an early engagement and from the penalty the outside centre once again burst through a series of covering tackles to touch down under the posts. With the conversion, Bassett led 14 – 8 as the teams turned around for the second half.
A Hughes penalty in the 44th minute reduced the arrears to 3 points (14-11) before the Bassett outside centre scored his hat trick try in the 50th minute, brushing aside defenders to race in from 30 metres out. The successful conversion put the home side 21 – 11 up and left the small, but very vocal Minety support wondering if they could stage a comeback.
Inspirational captain Andrew Hibbard provided the launch pad for the revival with a superb solo effort in the 70th minute to bring the score back to 21 -16 before Hughes spotted the smallest of gaps as Minety pressed for the win against a visibly tiring Bassett team. Somehow the scrum half managed to squeeze past two tackles to run in and touch down beneath the posts. His conversion was successful and Minety led 23 – 21 with just minutes left on the clock.
With both teams searching desperately for a 4th try bonus point and the win, the game became very broken up. A speculative kick through in the 80th minute saw the Bassett full back miss the bounce and James Irving, on for the injured fly half Kieran James, won the dash for the touchdown and Minety were home. Hughes slotted the conversion to take the lead out to 30 – 21 and then Minety managed the final moments to take the win, and the bonus point.
With bottom placed Bradford losing at home to Chippenham and Marlborough and calne being beaten by Sutton Benger and Melksham respectively, Minety’s win takes them up to 9th place with 26 points, in a league very much split between the top 6 teams and the rest.
Certainly a performance as spirited as this one will lift all concerned at Minety although the loss of Kieran James, gaining in experience and confidence with each passing game, to a shoulder injury will be a major blow as the team plots a way out of relegation worries over the last 7 games of the season.
Squad: Hugo Beanland, Matt Park, Andy Darrell, Colin French, Matt Chisholm, Mark Glew, Kieran Tillotson, Andrew Hibbard ©, Sam Hughes, Kieran James, Etai Scott, Duncan Simpson, Dave Cooke, Chris Rule and Del Murray. Replacement: James Irving.
Man of the Match: After independent adjudication (by Kieran Tillotson), Kieran Tilltotson for his 97 turnovers, 127 tackles and 498 metres gained (statistics verified by … Kieran Tilltotson)
Congratulations also to Steve Wilson and his 2nd XV team who came together to defeat Swindon 3rds at Minety by 34 – 26.
Other information worthy of note: Oxford commas are great! And today is World Palindrome Day; the date is 02 02 2020 (the first time that’s happened since the 11th November 1111) and it’s also noteworthy that it’s the 33rd day of the year with 333 days left!
Sadly, due to technical issues (I’ve lost the tripod) there will be no MTV this week. A shame, because it was a great match!