Minety overcame local rivals Chippenham 31-26 in a hard fought Dorset and Wilts Division 1 match on Saturday.
The visitors needs a win after two heavy defeats at the hands of table topping Bradford on Avon and Combe Down and responded magnificently to captain Tom Claxton’s call for a return to the free flowing rugby that served them so well earlier in the season.
Fighting for a top four finish to the campaign, Minety knew that nothing short of a win would suffice against a resurgent Chippenham team just two places below them in the league table.
The village team, desperately struggling for match fit players, was forced to field just one substitute for the game as a very competitive and physical league campaign has stretched playing resources almost to breaking point.
Try 1: Garin Garland
Against a big Chippenham side, Minety dominated the early exchanges and took the lead with a fine try near to the posts in the 5th minute. Full back Duncan Simpson’s tap penalty led to a move through the backs to fly half Tom MacAllister. His surge to the line was halted but a miss move involving scrum half Garin Garland and Claxton saw the former crash over for the try.
Minety continued to enjoy the majority of possession but were often guilty of over playing situations and giving up the ball.
Chippenham equalised in the 20th minute. A Minety defensive kick was blocked and from a throw in Chippenham gained possession, broke the line and touched down. The conversion was successful and the teams locked at 7 all.
Chippenham exposed Minety’s defences in the 23rd minute when the Number 8 brushed aside 4 defenders to score wide on the right.
Try 2: Gareth
Aggressive running from the Minety forwards pushed the home team back into their own 22 but despite efforts from Andrew Hibbard, Del Murray and Ben Scott, the home side preserved their
lead until the 39th minute. After a fine scrum, Number 8 Jack Ward, Garland and Ben Collins were all held up inches from the line but Garland’s swift pass out to prop Gareth Thomas saw the latter register his first try of the season and tie the scores at half time.
Chippenham started the second half strongly, pushing Minety back and the village team struggled to cope with the power of the home pack. 2nd row Ash Windle was shown a yellow card in the 45th minute for a ruck infringement close to the Minety line.
Try 3: Tom McAllister
The 14 men eventually succumbed to the pressure when a fluent Chippenham cross field move and a cut back from their No. 8 saw the latter cross for his second try of the match. The conversion was successful and the home side led 19-12.
Minety hit back almost immediately with a fine solo effort from McAllister, slicing through the home defence to score from 30 metres out.
With both teams throwing caution to the wind, play moved from end to end at breakneck speed and it was Chippenham who edged further in front in the 57th minute with a close range try after Minety had held up a previous attack on the line. The successful conversion took the score to 26-17 and Minety’s resistance seemed to be at an end.
However, Claxton’s team turned the match on its head in two dramatic minutes starting in the 63rd.
Try 4: Del Murray
Chippenham lost control of a lineout on the Minety 22 and flanker Murray picked up the loose ball and outpaced the defence to run in a brilliant solo try from 60 metres out. Garland kicked the long range conversion and Minety were within two points.
From the kick off Minety gathered the ball, Garland fed McAllister who broke the defensive line, drew the full back before passing to centre Jack Howse, who ran in under the posts from 40 metres out. Garland stroked home the conversion and Minety led 31-26.
In a desperate and breath-taking last 15 minutes, two players from each side were yellow carded and only brilliant tackling from the visitors prevented Chippenham from scoring.
Try 5: Jack Howse
Coach Andy Grayson was pleased and relieved at the end. “Our defence, especially out wide, was brilliant and we showed the kind of commitment that was lacking in our recent defeats. They were a tough side and we’re delighted to have completed a league double over them this season.”
The bonus point win takes Minety to 55 league points, one behind 4th placed Warminster, with a game in hand and a slightly easier run in.
In the weekend’s other match, a very patched up Minety 2nd XV lost by 30-10 away at Supermarine.