Minety secure 4th place in Dorset and Wilts Division 1 North!
Minety were forced to travel to Swindon for their final “home” match of the season, the game being played midweek under lights, in the knowledge that a bonus point win would clinch 4th place in the league at the end of a bruising and injury ravaged season.
Fielding just 15 players and with several playing out of their usual positions, the Minety team rose to the challenge magnificently, winning 39-14 and gaining that necessary bonus point.
Swindon kicked off into a stiff breeze on a firm and well grassed pitch but it was the visitors who dominated the early exchanges, going ahead in the 3rd minute when scrum half Garin Garland slotted home a penalty after Swindon were penalised for a high tackle on the dangerous Minety full back, Matt Roberts.
Just minutes later, flanker Kieran Tillotson had a try ruled out after a pass to him was adjudged to have drifted forward but Minety maintained the pressure and only a fine interception prevented Roberts from scoring after fly half Dave Cooke had broken through the Swindon defence.
Garland extended the lead in the 9th minute with his second penalty.
The young scrum half tormented the Swindon defence with his darting runs and his quickly taken penalty almost saw centre Jack Howse through for the opening try but the ball went to ground. Garland was on hand when the resulting Swindon scrum was turned by the powerful Minety pack and the ball broke free. With his conversion successful, Minety led by 13-0.
Swindon fought back and were denied a try by some fine defensive tackling but Minety scored again when powerful centre Jack Howse seized on the ball in midfield, kicked ahead and then won the chase to touch down. Garland’s conversion sailed between the posts and Minety were 20-0 up.
Fly half, Dave Cooke
From the kick-off Garland sliced through the Swindon line and ran 60 metres before being hauled down but the ball broke to Tillotson who off loaded for Cooke to score for Minety’s 3rd try and extend the lead to 25.
With the natural light fading, Swindon hit back, their outside centre crashing through the Minety line to score close to the posts.
As the half reached its end, Number 8 Andrew Hibbard, captaining the team in Tom Claxton’s enforced absence, was held up on the line as Minety chased the 4th, and bonus point winning, try.
The all-important score came in the last play of the half. Garland intercepted a pass on his own 22 and sprinted away before passing to outside centre Ben Kingston, making only his second 1st XV appearance of the season, who ran in from just inside his own half to touch down under the posts. Garland’s 3rd successful conversion took the half time score to 32-7.
With the wind behind them and the floodlights taking effect, Swindon dominated the early stages of the second half and both Roberts and Tillotson put in bone jarring tackles to hold back the tide.
Hibbard and centre Chris Rule held up a Swindon forwards’ move as Minety’s defence held firm and it was only a last ditch tackle from prop Rob Hinwood beneath the posts that prevented a try.
Against the run of play, it was Minety who scored next. Winger Ben Langridge intercepted a pass on his 10 metre line, drove forward before Howse fed Cooke, who ran in to touch down from 40 metres out. Garland’s conversion stretched the lead to 39-7.
Swindon struck back with a try from one of their forwards, the successful conversion ending the scoring at 39-14 leaving Minety to manage the final 20 minutes of play.
The village team might have had a 6th try late on when a fine backs’ move deep in their own 22 released winger Steve White, who ran 50 metres before being hauled down by Swindon’s last line of defence. The winger was subsequently forced off with a head injury and Minety had to play out the final 10 minutes with just 14 players.
Coach Andy Grayson was full of praise for his team after the win. “It was a fine all round team performance. We achieved what we set out to do, gain that win and the bonus point, and did it against a spirited and doughty Swindon side. A number of performances caught the eye but Man of the Match must go to Dave Cooke, playing his first ever match at fly half, who took his two tries well and impressed throughout.”
Minety now travel to Avonvale on Saturday for their final match of the season, secure in the knowledge that 4th place in Dorset and Wilts Division 1 is theirs.
Earlier Minety 2nd XV ended their league campaign, beaten by league champions Corsham in a tight game by 26-10 at Minety Fields.