Man of the Match: Mark Glew
Avonvale, second highest point scorers in Dorset and Wilts Division 1, overcame a patched up Minety side by 57 points to 8 at Minety Fields on Saturday as the home side struggled to put out a team after a recent spate of injuries had decimated the squad.
Coach Andy Grayson was forced to field a team made up almost entirely of forwards from the 1st and 2nd XV’s. Stand in captain Andrew Hibbard led a team with a prop forward, Mark Glew, playing at scrum half, two second rowers in the centres and a pair of flank forwards on the wings.
Avonvale used their pacey backs to great advantage and within the first 18 minutes of play had scored three tries and opened up a 17-0 lead.
Minety kicked off the first half playing uphill into a bitingly cold wind on an overcast and windswept day but were soon on the back foot as the Avonvale backs moved the ball wide on the left with their winger crossing by the corner flag.
Minety dominated the next phases of play led by Hibbard and Glew, keeping the ball close in the pack.
Debutant Del Murray, playing in an unaccustomed fly half role, broke into the Avonvale 22 and in the following phases of play Glew, prop Colin French and 2nd row Phil Ward all went close.
The home side were unable to maintain the pressure and Avonvale broke away to score their second try in the 10th minute, the scrum half picking up at the base of a ruck and chipping over for the fly half to run in and score.
Avonvale’s third try came on 18 minutes. Once again, Minety’s lack of lateral speed allowed the opposition to move the ball wide quickly and they overran the defence for another try out wide.
Captain Andrew Hibbard
To their credit, Grayson’s Minety didn’t allow their heads to drop. With Glew growing more confident by the minute and strong tackling from all the forwards, they fought back to stem the tide. When stand in hooker Jay Thompson found Ben Scott at a lineout, Minety launched an impressive rolling maul that took them well into the Avonvale 22. Props French and Cameron Smith linked up well to drive the ball forwards in midfield but the Avonvale defence was resolute and well organised and the village side came away empty handed.
Against the run of the play, Avonvale picked up their 4th try, and a valuable league bonus point, in the 32nd minute. Breaking down the centre from their own half, the ball first went right and then across the pitch where their flanker neatly side stepped the stretched defence to score.
Minety got on the scoresheet in the 37th minute, centre Ash Windle kicking a penalty after Avonvale were off side at a ruck.
Any hopes the home side had of a recovery disappeared in first half added time. Centre Bram Coleman injured his leg and was replaced and then winger Matt Stone was forced off with an ankle injury. Moments later centre Windle was red carded for a tip tackle.
The 14 players of Minety were unable to keep out the prolific and pacey right winger from Avonvale in the 42nd minute as he danced his way through the defence to score near the posts and the visitors soon had their 6th and 7th tries of the game, driving through an exhausted Minety defensive line and exploiting their one man advantage and superior pace.
43-3 down after 49 minutes, the village side could easily have capitulated but led by Glew and Hibbard, they fought back. With the bitter wind and driving rain, Minety matched Avonvale as the game entered its final stages.
Mark Glew scores
Late on Minety lost replacement prop Andy Darrell to a head injury and the remaining players on the pitch were unable to prevent Avonvale scoring their 8th and 9th tries in the last 4 minutes.
As the rain intensified and the game entered stoppage time, Hibbard, playing a true captain’s role, drove forward into the Avonvale 22. Glew set up Scott before the ball went to Murray. From the ensuing ruck, Man of the Match Glew picked up, spotted a gap and crashed over for a well-deserved consolation try to leave the final score Minety 8 Avonvale 57.
Coach Andy Grayson was not despondent at the end of the game. “We knew that we were up against it even before the match started, and injuries and the loss of players made the job even harder, but everyone out there gave 100% and we never gave up. We must now look to next Saturday and try to get as many of the injured fit and try to put out the type of team that we know we can produce here.”
The 2nd XV match was conceded by Supermarine.