Oldfield Old Boys 1st XV v Minety 1st XV

Saturday 6 March 2010

Southern Counties South

Minety leave it too late again

Oldfield Old Boys 1st XV 33 pts – Minety 1st XV 28 pts

Another five minutes and Minety might have won this game, but four late tries, including a hat-trick by Max Sparrow, were not enough to catch Oldfield Old Boys and make up for a poor start.

Minety had their fair share of the ball in the first half but they squandered it badly, too often attempting to run from deep. Catching isolated players in possession, Oldfield repeatedly dispossessed their opponents, moved the ball swiftly away from the contact area and counter-attacked. Minety players missed key tackles and in no time at all the home side had run in three good tries by the corner flag.

Ahead 25-nil at the interval, Oldfield may well have felt the game was sewn up. The start of the second half certainly confirmed this impression, as the hosts swept in for another try almost from the kick-off. But although Oldfield subsequently added a drop goal, the rest of the game belonged to Minety.

Belatedly heeding their coach’s advice, the visitors started putting phases together, patiently working the ball forward and forcing the home side to play in their own half.

In an inspired tactical move, skipper Tom Fitzcharles swapped position with Max Sparrow, Fitzcharles taking station at centre while Sparrow took on his role at scrumhalf. When an Oldfield player was yellow carded for killing the ball in his own 22, Minety opted for a scrum. The home defence successfully contained the visitors’ initial thrust, but Minety rucked the ball back and, before anyone could stop him, Sparrow had it in his hands and was darting over for a try.

Working well as a team, Minety repeated the formula, steadily moving the ball through the phases and into Oldfield’s 22 where, from behind another ruck, Sparrow struck again with a try under the posts.

Under pressure and still down to 14 men, an Oldfield player resorted to a reckless high tackle and was promptly sin-binned for his offence, giving the visitors a brief two-man advantage. Again Minety went for the scrum and started trundling Oldfield back towards their line. The home pack broke up in disarray and the referee awarded a penalty try.

Taking ball from the kick-off, Minety followed the recipe as before, backs and forwards combining to move play into Oldfield’s 22 where Sparrow sniped in for a try from the back of yet another ruck.

Jack Ward slotted the conversion, as he had the previous three, but the final whistle went with Minety still five points adrift and kicking themselves for their lacklustre start.

This was skipper Fitzcharles’ verdict after the game: “We put in a superb second-half fight-back but it was all too late. The damage had already been done.”

This Saturday, Minety play away against North Dorset.

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