Corsham maintained their unbeaten record in Dorset and Wilts Division 1 North with a 36 points to 11 victory at Minety in a Bonfire day match that promised much but failed to catch fire for the village side.
With two comprehensive victories behind them it looked as if Minety’s faltering start to the season was turning the corner but Andrew Hibbard’s men knew that the Corsham encounter was likely to be their toughest of the season. The power of the Corsham pack was soon clear as they dominated the early scrums and forced the Minety backs to play largely on the back foot.
Corsham’s power told in the 9th minute when, from a lineout on the right, the ball was passed along the backs to centre William Chivers. His clever kick over the advancing Minety defence was latched on to by Liam Snape who ran in to touch down close to the posts. The conversion was missed leaving the visitors 5 – 0 up.
Minety hit back in the 13th minute when scrum half Garin Garland slotted home a penalty from 25 metres out. With the howling cross field wind making handling difficult both teams resorted to defensive clearance kicks to touch to relieve pressure and re-set lines.
Minety took the lead in the 29th minute with another Garland penalty.
The points inspired the home team and they enjoyed their best spell of the game when their lighter, but more mobile pack moved the ball quickly out to the centres where Matt Roberts and Dave Church were always a handful for the Corsham defence.
Some desperate tackling by Hibbard and flanker Steve Brown prevented a Corsham try in the 38th minute but less than 60 seconds later a fine move from a ruck on the right saw Corsham winger Hamish Miller touch down wide on the right to restore the visitor’s lead.
Deep into first half injury time a Minety attack was broken up and Corsham exploited defensive weaknesses to allow winger Aaron Gale to score by the right hand side corner flag to leave the half time score at 15-6 in favour of the league leaders.
Injuries to front row forwards Owen Richardson and Peter Andrews meant assistant first team coach Craig Smith had to re-shuffle his pack, bringing himself and fellow prop Nick Britten into the action.
Despite having to contend with the Minety slope, Corsham pressed forward, giving the home team little chance for the open, running game that they enjoy.
The visitors’ 4th, and bonus point winning try, came in the 54th minute when Gale’s perfectly timed run split the home defence. The conversion took the Corsham lead to 22-6.
A superb break by Roberts saw Minety encamped on the Corsham line but after a series of penalties and scrums they were unable to penetrate a resolute Corsham defense until a clever interplay between Roberts and full back Jack Ward saw the latter cross for a try wide on the right.
Hopes of a Minety revival were dashed in the 75th minute when a fine kick through found touch metres from the home team’s line. Corsham took the lineout and their forwards drove over for the score. The conversion took the score to 29-11 and the tiring and injury ridden home team were unable to prevent a 6th Corsham try in the 78th minute when Snape ended a pitch long move to register his second try of the match. The successful conversion ended the scoring leaving Corsham 36-11 victors.
Captain Andrew Hibbard was philosophical afterwards. “It was a really tough day. We started well and matched them for long periods of the game but we gave away some silly points and we’ll need to re-group as we prepare for the run in to Christmas, where league points will be vital.”
In the day’s other match, Minety 2nd XV surprisingly lost 36-26 at home to a Supermarine team that had come into the game with just one previous win this season.
Matt Stone’s Minety team gave up a try early on in the match but hit back with tries from second row Colin French and inside centre Jon Blair. Fly half Kieran Gash scored their third try just before half time but they were unable to stamp their authority over a Supermarine team who kept coming back at them.
Strong forward play at the start of the second half saw Supermarine take the lead through a try but Minety hit back when Blair scored his second try to close the gap to just three points.
Supermarine exploited Minety’s defensive lapses and extended their lead in the closing minutes of the game to take the league points with a 36-26 win.
Skipper Matt Stone said after the match, “We played well in the first half but fell apart a little in the second half. I’m gutted to see our winning ways end but we now have a week off to work on things and come back strong in the weeks up to Christmas.”
Both teams have a week off with no games next Saturday before resuming league action on 19th November when the 1st will travel to Supermarine while the seconds make the trip to Corsham.