Minety went into Saturday’s Dorset and Wilts Division 1 North game with Melksham knowing that a win would take them into 4th place during the Christmas break. Sadly, it was not to be as a patched up Minety team, missing 7 regular 1st team players, lost a bruising encounter 12-3 at Minety Fields.
Melksham, playing downhill in the 1st half, dominated the early exchanges with some incisive running from their backs. In damp and misty conditions, ball handling was difficult and Minety scrum half Garin Garland and fly half Tom McAllister evened up affairs with some clever positional kicking, pushing Melksham back into their own half.
The visitors took the lead in the 16th minute after firing the ball along their back line. A crucial missed tackle in midfield allowed their flanker to cross for a try close to the posts. The conversion was successful and Melksham were 7 – 0 up.
Melksham extended their lead in the 27th minute after a period of territorial advantage. Once again, missed tackles put the home team on the back foot and the Melksham forwards took their chance to score a second try. The conversion was missed but the visitors’ lead was now 12 points.
As the half drew to a close the Minety forwards upped their game and began to dominate with No. 8 Tom Windle, hooker Tom Claxton and captain Will North all making strong incursions into the Melksham 22 but the visitors’ defence remained resolute and the half ended with Melksham 12-0 up.
Reduced to 14 men early in the second half after a yellow card for an offence in the ruck, Melksham were forced to soak up massive Minety pressure. Stand in coach Andy Ward introduced last week’s try scorer Adam Watts into proceedings at full back and his presence in the line added much needed impetus as the home team pressed forward looking for their first score.
Minety turned down a number of very kickable penalties, preferring to run the ball. In hindsight the home team might have been better served by taking the penalties on offer.
The key moment of the second half came in the 60th minute when, after a spell of concerted pressure on the Melksham line, the Minety forwards drove forward and over the line with Tom Windle appearing to touch down. However, the referee was unsighted and decided that the ball had been held up.
The village team eventually broke their duck in the 63rd minute when Garland kicked a penalty to reduce the arrears to 9 points. The final quarter of the match was evenly contested with chances at both ends but the defences held firm and Melksham finished 12-3 victors. The loss dropped Minety one place down the table and they enter the second half of the campaign in 7th place with lots of hard work ahead of them.
Andy Ward was proud of the team’s effort but frustrated with the result. “They had two chances in the first half and took them both. We had at least three chances in the second half and took none of them. It was that close. It was a hard game and both teams are to be congratulated on their efforts. We had a lot of players stepping up to fill gaps brought about through injury so we weren’t as fluent or dynamic as we can be but those lads left nothing out on that pitch today.”
In the weekend’s other match, Matt Stone’s 2nd XV drew 22 all with Devizes 3rds. In a tight match, the home team came back to force a draw with a series of late tries. The points won leave the 2nd’s in 7th place in Dorset and Wilts 3 North.
Both Minety teams will start the second half of their league campaigns on the 14th January when the 1st XV take on Warminster whilst the seconds entertain Alfred’s Nomads.
Josh Bull, Ash Windle and Tom Claxton – “Losing hurts!”
Try telling him that it’s only a game!