Dave Cooke (14) scores Minety’s try
Minety’s 1st XV resumed their league campaign with a hard fought 13-8 victory over local rivals Chippenham at Minety Fields on Saturday.
Playing uphill in bitingly cold conditions, Minety struggled at scrummages, pushed back by the much heavier Chippenham pack, but dominated at the lineout and tackled like demons to pen the visitors in their own half.
Minety skipper Tom Claxton, back after injury, drove his team forward and the Chippenham defences were tested in the opening quarter as Minety launched wave after wave of attacks.
When the visitors attacked, strong tackling from the new Minety centre partnership of Dave Church and Ben Sellick prevented much progress whilst counter attacking runs from No. 8 Andrew Hibbard and scrum half Garin Garland helped clear the lines.
Minety opened the scoring in the 17th minute with a fine team try. Ben Collins took a lineout and Hibbard and Colin French made ground in centre field. Claxton and Sellick continued the move and when Garland spotted a gap at a ruck he burst through, drawing the full back before releasing to winger Dave Cooke who outpaced the remaining defence to score. Garland kicked the conversion and Minety led 7-0.
Chippenham responded and it took some desperate defending from the home team to keep the powerful visitors at bay. Full back Chris Rule, fly half Tom McAllister and Garland were secure under the high ball and cleared the lines efficiently.
Minety were reduced to 14 men when Church was yellow carded for an infringement at a ruck as Chippenham pushed for their opening score.
The visitors opened their account in the closing minutes of the half. The exhausted Minety pack was unable to halt a drive at a scrum and Chippenham crashed over for a try which went unconverted.
Somehow the 14 men struck back from the restart and a brilliant cross field run from the dangerous Sellick was only thwarted by a last ditch tackle as he reached for the line wide out on the right wing.
Minety coaches Hywel Rees and Andy Grayson made changes at half time, introducing winger Ben Langridge for Ash Windle and moving the back line around.
The home side should have increased their lead just after the interval when Garland broke free but his pass to flanker Josh Bull went to ground and the chance was lost. Another opening was lost when Jack Howse was unable to cling onto a defence splitting pass from McAllister.
The pressure did result in a penalty for Minety when the visitors were penalised for handling the ball in a ruck and Garland swept home a 30m penalty kick.
As the wet pitch began to cut up Minety kept the ball tight in the forwards with the front 5 of Mark Glew, Claxton, French, Collins and Ben Scott all putting in immense efforts whilst McAllister and Garland pushed Chippenham back with clever tactical kicking.
Minety almost extended their 10-5 lead in the 71st minute but Garland’s long range penalty kick drifted agonisingly wide.
The scrum half did score in the 78th minute, kicking a penalty after Howse was body checked as he chased down a kick ahead.
In the gathering gloom, Chippenham missed a penalty kick as they sought the two scores necessary to win the match but despite enormous pressure, the village team held out and Chippenham’s only consolation was a drop goal in the final play, Minety running out 13-8 victors to cement their 5th place in the Dorset and Wilts Division1 North.
Coach Hywel Rees was happy with the win. “We’ll take that after the recent loss at Trowbridge, but we can do better. It was a tremendous effort to stop a powerful Chippenham team crossing the line more than once but we should have had that game in the bag long before the final 10 minutes of play.”
Minety have a welcome week off before resuming their league campaign against lowly Swindon on the 9th December.
In the weekend’s other action Minety 2nd XV came back to defeat Supermarine 29-15.