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Minety 1st XV v Oldfield Old Boys 1st XV

Saturday 28 November 2009

Southern Counties South

Mud, Muscle and Minety

Minety 1st XV 32 pts – Oldfield Old Boys 1st XV 10 pts

Playing some of their best rugby of the season, Minety defied the muddy conditions to run four tries past Bath’s Oldfield Old Boys, thereby securing a convincing win and two precious league points.

So many players declared themselves unavailable this weekend that Minety were forced to cancel their second team fixture and co-opt a substantial portion of the seconds in to bolster the depleted firsts. In the event, the draftees played so well that you would never have noticed.

The Old Boys were first to score, kicking a penalty goal after five minutes following an infringement at a ruck.

Minety came back strongly from the restart and when Oldfield went offside, flyhalf Andy Edwards soon levelled the scores with a well struck penalty goal of his own.

For a while, the visitors attempted to beat the sticky conditions by kicking for position, but their hosts proved so adept at running the ball back at them that they soon abandoned the tactic. And when an Oldfield player was yellow carded, Edward used the subsequent penalty to increase Minety’s lead by another three points.

Driving mauls and some impassioned rucking established the home team in their visitors’ 22 and a five metre scrum set up an ideal attacking platform. The ball was fed out as far as inside centre Max Sparrow, who feinted left then darted back inside to evade his cover and skitter in for a try, which Edwards converted.

A scorching touchline run by winger Will Howse and a determined thrust by skipper and outside centre Dave Church rocked Oldfield back on their heels once more, but the job was finished by Sparrow. Having beaten two men to cross the try line by the corner flag, he charged infield behind the line, eventually passing the ball to scrumhalf Tom Fitzcharles to touch down under the posts.

Edwards’ goal kick made it 20-3 to Minety and that’s how it stayed until half time, despite a yellow card for Minety’s Max Smith and a spirited five minutes by the Old Boys.

Deep mud made for heavy going underfoot and a slippery ball in hand, but Howse seemed to ignore all that as he opened the second half by coming off his wing and charging full tilt onto a pass from his scrumhalf. His pace and the angle of his run took the visitors off guard. He beat his first tackler, handed off a second and burst through the determined grabs of a final two defenders for a brilliant try from 45 metres out.

While Oldfield got their heads down and did their best to get back into the game, Minety seemed to grow complacent. There followed a chaotic 10 minutes in which the home team appeared to forget everything they ever knew about defence. The Old Boys attacked while Minety dropped passes and botched clearance kicks. In the end, Oldfield managed to score a try up the right touchline, hacking ahead and winning the race to touch down by the corner flag. An impressive long range kick which passed through the posts having bounced off the cross bar brought the score back to 27-10.

Shaken back into their right minds, Minety returned to staunch tackling, fearsome rucking and running the ball with every yard of pace at their disposal. The forwards carried the ball forward on the right flank and then released it the threequarters, who moved it out to Church. The skipper bundled through two tackles before crashing over for a try.

The home team’s determination was perfectly exemplified by the efforts of winger Gareth Peirce, who beat all comers in the race to reach an Oldfield kick ahead. Falling on the ball, he was up in a moment and, though tackled, kept his feet and retained possession until support arrived to take it off his hands. The Old Boys never gave up, but Minety’s tackling was excellent and allowed no way through.

“We had much more pattern to our play this week,” commented Minety coach Huw Jones. “Our rucking in particular was top drawer. If we continue to play like that, I’m sure there’ll be more wins on the way.”

This Saturday, Minety firsts travel to Yeovil to play Ivel Barbarians while the seconds play Fairford at home.


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