Minety slipped to a 4th straight defeat on Saturday at Pewsey Vale in a match played in possibly the worst conditions this correspondent has witnessed in over 40 years of watching rugby. In driving rain and a biting wind, the village team, who were only able to field 15 players in total, were beaten 17 – 7 by Pewsey Vale.
The match started 15 minutes early when it was clear that the light was fading fast and the weather was only going to get worse.
With young James Nicksen, just back from university, thrust into the fly half role and Morgan Aubrey promoted to play No. 8, Tom Claxton’s team faced a huge challenge even before the kick off.
Pewsey, who themselves have found it hard to field full teams regularly this season, started promisingly and their large pack were soon driving Minety back deep in to their own 22. Two early attacks were only halted by last minute tackles as the skies darkened, the temperature plummeted, the rain increased and spectators were forced back into the club house.
As Minety tried to organise their defences and counteract the conditions, Pewsey opened up the scoring with a try on the right hand side. The conversion was missed.
Often caught out by the slippery conditions underfoot and the wet ball, Minety’s pacey backs found themselves enveloped time and time again by the Pewsey defence and it was not until Nicksen started to kick over the top that play moved into the Pewsey half. This more enterprising approach paid dividends in the 20th minute when, from a forward’s move close to the home line, scrum half Garin Garland picked up the ball and scrambled over near the posts for Minety’s try. Garland converted the try and Minety led 7 -5.
By this time Mark Glew, who in previous weeks had played at prop, hooker and scrum half, and now found himself in the unaccustomed role of flanker, had picked up a nasty blow to the jaw. Clearly feeling the effects of the injury he was withdrawn and, without any substitutes, the village team were down to 14 players. The situation became worse when shortly after Minety’s free running centre Jack Howse attempted an interception, slipped on the slimy surface and fell, catching his head on a Pewsey player’s knee. With his withdrawal Minety were down to 13 players yet held out against the odds for 15 minutes before they conceded a try just before half time.
With Pewsey leading 12 – 7 and the conditions worsening by the minute, a severely curtailed half time was spent in a huddle out on the pitch before the second half began.
3. Andy Darrell
The 13 soon became 12 when Minety’s other flanker Jay Thompson injured his shoulder and was withdrawn. Somehow the village team held out with forwards Colin French, Andy Darrall, Ash Windle, Ben Scott and Aubrey putting in huge covering defensive tackles to keep Pewsey out.
Home pressure began to tell and when Pewsey picked up their third try, exploiting their numerical advantage, the match was effectively over. The Minety players, tired after a long run of matches and hopelessly outnumbered, tried their best but it was not to be. The match was eventually ended 8 minutes from time when scrum half Garland was injured and Minety could no longer field a viable team.
The loss, against a team they should have comfortably beaten, demonstrated the threat that an overburdening fixture list can have upon a small club like Minety. The village team now find themselves in 7th place in the league and adrift of the top four spot that they targeted at the start of the season.
The villagers, who try to field two teams, one in Division 1 and the other in Division 3, have enjoyed just one match free Saturday since 1st September. In what was their 14th match of the season, Minety, who battled their way through to the Dorset and Wiltshire Senior Vase Final, have had an unbroken run of 9 consecutive Saturday matches and now have not won since defeating Chippenham on the 17th November.
Coach Andy Grayson cut a frustrated figure at the end of the match. “All credit to Pewsey, who did all that was needed to win the match, but we were battling numbers and the conditions and simply could not keep going. Everyone gave their all and one only had to look at Ben Scott, who has played in 13 matches since September, to see how exhausted and disappointed the whole team are. We now have two Saturdays free before we start on the second half of what has been a very difficult season for the club.”
Joint Men of the Match for Minety Andy Darrall and Morgan Aubrey.