Marlborough 26 - Minety 15
Minety have found themselves sucked down into a relegation dog fight at the bottom end of Dorset and Wilts Division 1 after going down 26-15 at fellow strugglers Marlborough on Saturday.
On a cold and damp Saturday afternoon, with wreaths of fog swirling around the ground, Andrew Hibbard led his team out to face a fearsome looking squad from Marlborough who had well over 20 players kitted and readied during the match warmup.
Minety started at real pace. From the kick off, scrum half Garin Garland collected and kicked back into open space. Good pressure from the Minety backs forced an error and fly half Sam Hughes’ penalty kick pushed Marlborough back to their own 5 metre line. Jay Thompson’s throw was excellently caught by second row Matt Chisholm before Minety set up a rolling maul. Flanker Del Murray and prop Andy Darrell controlled Minety’s march forward and captain Hibbard was on hand to take the ball and crash over out on the left. Garland’s kick missed to the left but Minety were 5 -0 up with less than 2 minutes on the clock.
The lead lasted less than 4 minutes. Marlborough’s use of their very large Fijian players at 6 and 8 to punch holes in the Minety centre, pushed the villagers back and from one of these moves the flanker burst through to score close to the posts. The conversion was successful and Marlborough, who started the day behind Minety in 11th place, had the lead 7-5.
Marlborough moved futher ahead in the 25th minute with a try wide out on the right wing, converted superbly from range, to edge out a 14-5 lead. While Minety matched Marlborough for swathes of the game, the powerful mid field running always caused them problems and the try came about when Minety were forced to over commit in midfield to stave off an assault there, and so left themselves vulnerable out wide.
Minety dominated the final minutes of the first half, maintaining possession and slowly pushing Marlborough back. Chisholm, Del Murray, Jay Thompson and Hibbard all went close, the latter having an attempt deemed held up over the line.
Minety’s efforts did not go unrewarded. After numerous attempts at the home line, the Thompson Chishol combination worked well at a 5 metre lineout and after two phases of attacking play, Murray was on hand to burst through and score in time added on at the end of the first half.
The visitors thought they had a third try early in the second half, Garland chipping through, Dave Cooke pressurising the full back into a mistake and young winger Jesse Daybell racing onto the loose ball to streak clear only for the linesman to flag for a foot in touch earlier in the move.
Only a desperate high tackle on Chris Rule, on for the injured Colin French, as Rule was about to score prevented Minety from adding to their half time score as they dominated possession and territory. Rule’s powerful line running caused the Marlborough defence all manner of problems and it was from one of these in the 65th minute that a ruck was formed out on the left inside the Marlborough 22. Garland found Hughes and the fly half deft kick across field found replacement winger Etai Scott, playing in only his second 1st XV match, waiting to collect and run in for Minety’s third try and a 15-14 lead.
The final 10 minutes was frantic, both teams chasing vital league points, 4th try bonus points and possible losing bonus points. With the small Minety squad, crippled by the league rule that states that the top team at a club can only field 3 replacements while teams like Marlborough, who were fielding their 2nd team can use 8, the match moved more and more into the Minety half.
In the 71st minute the Minety defence was breached for a third time. After a huge defensive effort the Marlborough scrum half was able to pick up at a base of the ruck near the posts and dive over a sprawl of players for the try, which was converted for a 21-15 lead.
Marlborough scored their 4th, bonus point winning try, in the 76th minute after a move started in midfield gained impetus down the left wing. The kick was unsuccessful but the lead was now 26-15 with time running out for Minety.
Minety hit back and Cooke’s desperate lunge for the line was marginally short as Minety strove for a 4th try and a losing bonus point.
In the end, it was too much for Minety, who left the field empty handed in terms of league points despite their efforts. The win and the bonus point for the 4th try now take Marlborough clear of Minety at the bottom of the table with only basement club Bradford below the village club.
Final score Marlborough 26 Minety 15
Squad: Andy Darrell, Jay Thompson, Hugo Beanland, Matt Chisholm, Colin French, Del Murray, Kieran Tillotson, Andrew Hibbard (c), Garin Garland, Sam Hughes, Jesse Daybell, Kieran James, Dave Cooke, Sam Thompson and Duncan Simpson. Replacements: Mark Glew, Chris Rule and Etai Scott