Minety’s unbeaten run came to a halt at Trowbridge on Saturday. The village side, unbeaten since the first match of the season, narrowly lost 26-24 in a match of 7 tries and many missed chances, and slipped down to 6th place in Dorset and Wilts Division 1.
Injuries and unavailabilities gave coach Andy Grayson the chance to give prop Andy Darrell and flanker Morgan Aubrey their 1st team debuts whilst also introducing Bram Coleman and Phil Ward to the squad.
Man of the Match Andrew Hibbard
On an uncharacteristically warm and sunny October afternoon, Trowbridge kicked off but were soon desperately defending when No. 8 Andrew Hibbard burst through the home defences. His pass to captain Tom Claxton went to ground but Minety’s all-round pace, on a beautifully prepared pitch, was clear.
Scrum half Garin Garland opened the scoring in the 5th minute with a penalty in front of the posts after a series of swift attacks down the centre.
Two minutes later free scoring centre Jack Howse chipped the ball over the defence and ran through but an unfortunate bounce saw the ball into touch when a try seemed inevitable.
Trowbridge struck back using their significant size advantage to pen Minety back but the village team held out with some tenacious tackling from Coleman and centres Chris Rule and Howse.
Minety increased their lead in the 19th minute. A huge kick from fly half Sam Hughes was kicked over the dead ball line by the defence. From the ensuing 5 metre scrum winger Dave Cooke and then flanker Ash Windle were only halted at the line and then Garland was unable to ground the ball over the line. However, Trowbridge couldn’t halt the next Minety scrum and Garland was able to touch down for a try at the base. The conversion was successful and Minety stretched the lead to 10.
The home side struck back 3 minutes later when a floated pass in midfield was intercepted by the winger, who raced in to score. The conversion was straightforward and the home side were back in the game.
Trowbridge took the lead in the 35th minute with their second try after a period of intense pressure during which Minety lost both centres, Rule temporarily and Howse for the match, with injuries.
14-10 down, Minety started the second half strongly and when Hibbard collected a loose ball at a Trowbridge lineout and set up good field position a second try beckoned but with a three man overlap metres from the line the ball went to ground and the chance was lost.
Minety did accept their next chance in the 51st minute. After a burst from Rule down the centre disrupted the home defence, the ball was taken on by the bustling second row Ben Scott before Garland found Hibbard, whose brilliant cut back saw him under the posts for Minety’s second try, converted by Garland.
Firmly on the front foot, Minety were back in the Trowbridge 22 from the kick off. Hibbard broke through again, passing to Garland but his pass to Cooke went awry with the line open. Moments later debutant Darrell was held up right on the line and another chance went begging.
With their first incursion into Minety territory in the second half, Trowbridge disrupted a Minety scrum and after a series of assaults on the villagers’ line, their prop forward crashed through to score their 3rd try. The conversion took the score to 21 – 17 as the game entered the last quarter.
With the match opening up and both teams desperate for a winning score, Minety pushed forward again and regained the lead in the 66th minute. After a tactical kick had pushed Trowbridge back deep into their own 22, Rule collected a clearance kick and ran the ball back and from the following ruck, Garland cleverly spotted a gap, dummied the defence and ran in to score under the posts. His conversion saw Minety back in front 24-21 with 12 minutes left.
Minety scorned another chance 2 minutes later when the ball was dropped with a clear overlap beckoning and the village side were made to pay dearly when the Trowbridge clearance kick set up a desperate chase. Somehow the defence failed to deal with the loose ball and Trowbridge were able to score out wide. The conversion was missed but the home side were back in the lead 26-24.
In a desperate last 10 minutes, Hibbard and Rule went close and when Garland broke free, passing to Hughes the try line opened up but a last gasp tackle stopped the fly half and the chance was gone.
A win would have lifted Minety into 3rd place in the table; the loss condemns them to 6th place.
Coach Grayson will hope that painful lessons will have been learned from this defeat as he prepares his team for next week’s home encounter with Avonvale.
Man of the Match: Andrew Hibbard