Minety completed the league double over their nearest Dorset and Wilts rivals at Royal Wootton Bassett on Saturday whilst also celebrating their second successive shut out of the new year. The village side have remarkably played nearly three hours of rugby since an opposition player has scored against them.
In damp and miserable conditions, on a heavy pitch and with a wet, slippery ball, Minety put the opposition on the back foot from the kick off. Having been forced into making sweeping changes after injuries sustained in their recent win over Warminster, Minety dominated the early scrums and lineouts.
The villagers took the lead in the 4th minute, scrum half Garin Garland slotting home a penalty from 22 metres after Bassett were punished at a scrum.
Minety lost hard charging centre Jack Howse to a nasty eye injury in the 5th minute but kept up the pressure with impressive line speed and ferocious tackling. Prop Andrew Hibbard was stopped a metre from the line as Minety pushed the home side back.
The combination of hard tackling and fly half Tom McAllister’s exceptional tactical kicking meant that Minety were able to dominate ball possession and territory as the game settled down.
Garland doubled the lead in the 17th minute after the Bassett line was caught off side after a lineout.
Minety scored their first try in the 21st minute. Breaks from flanker Josh Bull and No. 8 Ben Sellick and another inch perfect kick from McAllister drove Bassett back and when Kieran Tillotsen’s midfield tackle turned over possession Garland fired the ball through the backs to winger Ben Langridge, who evaded four defenders to score in the corner.
Garland extended the lead to 14 points in the 34th minute with a 35 metre penalty kick as Minety controlled the game, keeping the home side comfortably away from the visitors’ try line.
Minety’s injury crisis was compounded before the interval when they lost both wingers, Langridge to another eye injury and Dave Cooke to a head injury.
Bassett enjoyed their best spell of possession and territory as the half drew to a close but seldom looked capable of breaching a resolute Minety line. Bull dominated the lineout and McAllister was always on hand to clear the lines if needed.
The second half was, in the main, a drab affair with Bassett pressing for a score but Minety holding them out. Sellick and full back Matt Roberts put in some punishing tackles while both lineout and scrummage continued to give Minety quality ball.
The teams exchanged penalty misses late on as Bassett pushed hard for a score but, despite spending time camped out on the Minety line, they were unable to breach the defence.
In the 85th minute Minety scored their second try. Strong running from centre replacement Tom Windle and a sumptuous kick to touch 5 metres out from McAllister saw Bassett scramble to clear their lines and, after another strong run from Windle, McAllister threw a 20 metre pass to replacement Jack Ward who touched down in the corner.
Coaches Andy Grayson and Hywel Rees were delighted with the performance, the latter commenting that, “It wasn’t pretty but we took our opportunities and made the best of difficult conditions. The tackling was tremendous, the set pieces worked despite so many player changes and Tom McAllister’s kicking was outstanding.”
The win keeps Minety in 5th place, equal on points with 4th placed Warminster. Next week Minety welcome 10th placed Supermarine to Minety Fields as they aim for a top three position in the league.
In the weekend’s other fixture, Minety 2nds travelled to 2nd placed Trowbridge in Division 3 but were well beaten 47-0.