Probably the first fixture that Minety players look for when the lists are published is the match up with local rivals, Royal Wootton Bassett.
When the two teams met for the first time this season at Minety Fields in the league last Saturday the result was a bruising encounter with the visitors eventually emerging 22-19 winners.
Minety started the day in 5th place in Dorset and Wilts Division 1 North, their visitors just two places below them, buoyed no doubt by their excellent performance the week before when they were only narrowly defeated by the unbeaten Corsham side.
In a fast paced opening sequence of play, both teams moved the ball well but were unable to retain possession long enough to make real inroads into the defences.
Minety took the lead in the 15th minute when scrum half Garin Garland slotted a penalty from 25 metres out after Bassett players were penalised at a ruck.
Bassett hit back 5 minutes later after some sustained pressure had pinned the villagers back in their own 22. Spotting the defence out of position, Bassett’s scrum half picked up the ball at the base of a ruck and ran in to touch down beneath the posts. The conversion was successful and Wootton Bassett led 7-3.
Minety struck back four minutes later when Garland fed the Minety captain Andrew Hibbard, who crashed through the Bassett defence to score near the posts. Garland’s conversion restored the home team’s lead at 10-7.
When Bassett’s defence was caught offside Garland extended the lead to 13-7 with a well taken penalty in the 27th minute.
The visitors hit back soon after when an attempted clearance kick was charged down and Minety’s defence were unable to reset properly. Bassett stole the ball from the ensuing ruck and spread it out left for the outside centre to run in and score. The unsuccessful conversion left the villagers with a narrow 13-12 lead which Garland extended in the final minutes of the half to bring the half time score to 16-12.
The home side started the second half promisingly. Tall second row Ben Collins made his presence felt up front whilst full back Duncan Simpson’s entries into the line placed added pressure on the visitors’ defence.
In their final matches for the village club, long serving flanker Steve Brown and winger Ben Langridge both put in huge tackles to force Bassett back as Minety upped the pressure.
The match, so evenly balanced, changed direction in the 60th minute when Minety were forced into major alterations up front after prop forward Peter Andrews was withdrawn after a head injury and influential scrum half Garland was yellow carded shortly afterwards.
With Minety down to 14 players and Simpson moving from full back to scrum half, Bassett took control and crossed for their 3rd try wide on the left in the 66th minute. Their 4th, and bonus point winning try, came four minutes later, this time the inside centre touching down wide out on the right.
Garland, back from his 10 minutes in the sin bin, kicked a penalty for Minety in the 73rd minute to cut Bassett’s lead to just 4 points but, as the light faded and the minutes ticked away, Minety were unable to convert pressure into points and had to settle for a losing league bonus point as Bassett emerged 22-19 victors.
For the home team Garland kicked four penalties and one conversion while Hibbard scored their only try.
Man of the Match: Front row forward Will North who put in a battling performance up front.
Playing their last matches for Minety: Steve Brown and Ben Langridge. We will be reporting on both in the coming days and weeks but I’m sure that everyone at Minety will wish them well as they take on new challenges.