Minety’s chances of a top 6 place in Dorset and Wilts Division 1 look remote after they were subjected to a 9 try mauling at the hands of a well organised Melksham team on Saturday. The village team came into the match with a young and inexperienced team hoping to surprise 3rd placed Melksham, and for the first 14 minutes they looked as if they were in with a chance.
On a beautifully prepared pitch at Melksham it was the village team who dominated the early exchanges with new half back team Mark Glew and Dave Cooke spreading the ball out wide and debutant Will Seaton making darting runs on the wing. Forwards Andrew Hibbard, Cameron Smith and captain Tom Claxton all made inroads into the Melksham 22 as Minety pushed for the opening score.
The illusive Jack Howse was hauled down close to the line but then Melksham were caught offside but Cooke’s penalty attempted crashed again the near post and bounced to safety.
Jack Howse before his leg injury
The let off spurred Melksham into the type of form that has seen them as the only team to really challenge Combe Down and Avonvale at the top of the table. After a series of cross field moves a chip kick over the Minety defence saw the winger collect and touch down beneath the posts.
Melksham doubled their lead in the 20th minute, another fluent move across the pitch enabling the No. 8 to touch down under the posts.
With Howse proving a handful in mid field and strong running from his fellow centre Chris Rule and Mike Scott, making his first appearance of the season, Minety matched Melksham as the half wore on. Melksham extended their lead with a long range penalty in the 30th minute to take the score to 17-0.
Rule was almost through shortly after as Minety pressed forward, the backs moving the ball quickly along the line but the Melksham defence was well organised and the attack fizzled out. As the game entered stoppage time at the end of the half Minety chose not to kick a penalty and ran the ball at the Melksham line. Winger Matt Stone looked to have broken through but a last gaps tackle dislodged the ball and the chance was lost. Matt Chisholm, Claxton and Colin French were all stopped near the line but it was Melksham who finished the half with a try after a break out against the run of play.
Centre Chris Rule puts in another crunching tackle
Coach Andy Grayson introduced Matt Roberts at the start of the second half after Mike Scott was injured but the experienced back could do nothing to prevent Melksham’s 4th try in the opening minute; a fine move across field from left to right ending with a touch down by the right hand flag.
Minety lost Howse shortly after, replaced by Sam Trinder. The sheer weight of the Melksham attacks were taking their toll on a hard pitch and under an unseasonably warm sunshine. Rather than slowing the game down to try to catch their breath, Minety showed their inexperience by trying to up the tempo and all too often the ball was lost to a Melksham side growing in confidence.
Melksham kicked their second penalty of the match in the 53rd minute and from the kick off only a fine tackle from Roberts prevented another Melksham try. A minute later it was Roberts on the attack, his kick and chase thwarted at the Melksham line but as Minety tried to re-organise the ball went out wide on the left for the Melksham winger to run in the 5th try from 60 metres out. The long range conversion was successful and Minety were down by 37 points.
Matt Stone runs in to score Minety’s only points
Matters went from bad to worse seconds later. From the kick off Melksham burst through to run in their 6th try under the posts.
Shortly after, Howse, pressed back into action after Cooke was injured, was the recipient of a late tackle and had to be carried from the pitch, latest indications being that he may have fractured his leg in the incident.
Melksham’s 7th try came in the 68th minute, again after a back’s move that the visibly tiring Minety defence simply could not manage.
Andy Grayson’s side picked themselves up after this latest set back and Matt Stone was on the end of a good move set up by Rule and Colin French to touch down wide on the right for Minety’s first points.
Matt touches down for Minety’s try
Melksham ended the match with two further converted tries to leave the final score a rather flattering 65 -5.
Tom Claxton is helped from the pitch late on
Coach Grayson was disappointed at the end of the game. “There’s not a lot of positives that we can take from that game although I thought Will Seaton had a good debut and Chris Rule put in a man of the match performance with his tackling in midfield. I’d certainly like to thank all of the 2nd XV players who stepped up and hope that the injured players can rest and recover before our next match, at home to Pewsey in a fortnight’s time.”
Not for the faint hearted – Jack’s fracture!
In the weekend’s other match, Minety 2nd XV were defeated by 43 – 19 by Warminster.