Dorset & Wilts Division 1 North
Minety 1st XV 17pts – Combe Down 1st XV 19pts
A strong finish from Minety couldn’t make up for a poor start and an uneven Combe Down did just enough to clinch this closely fought contest.
Visiting flyhalf Dan Shepherd punished Minety’s ill-disciplined start with three well struck penalties to give Combe Down an early nine-point lead.
Minety eventually got under way but failed to turn a long period in the visitors’ 22 into points.
The home side responded positively but poor handling undermined their attempts to get back on terms. Number 8 Pete Hazell had to retire with a leg injury and the sides turned round with Combe Down ahead by 14 points to nil.
Minety began the second half strongly but kicked away possession. The back line finally gelled when a determined break by centre Dave Church put winger Dale Langdown away for a try by the corner flag. Luke Radcliffe succeeded with a difficult conversion from the touchline to make it 7-14.
As Minety continued to press, the indiscipline of the Combe Down forwards left the referee no choice but to yellow card one of their flankers.
Combe Down responded with renewed determination. Although many spectators thought that they came from an offside position, they snaffled possession from Minety, created an overlap on the left and moved the ball wide. Tackled as he took the ball, Matt Musgrove still made sure of the try and Shepherd’s accurate goal kicking stretched the visitors’ lead to 12-19.
Back came the hosts, taking the game to the wire with a last minute try from prop Martin Coe, powering over for a third try by the corner flag. A successful conversion would have levelled the score, but it was not to be and Combe Down scraped through with a win.