Minety 1st XV travelled to in form Frome on Saturday in a hastily re-arranged Dorset and Wilts Division 1 North fixture, the original having been lost to a frozen pitch.
Smarting from their first half blitzing by Bradford last week, the team, made up of a combination of 1st and 2nd XV players, knew they would face a stiff challenge against a Frome team which had lost its first 8 matches of the season, including a 67-0 drubbing at Minety, but had since won 4 of their last 5 fixtures including impressive victories over Bradford and Chippenham.
Rob Hinwood injured making another tackle
Most of the early exchanges took place in the Minety half but a combination of tenacious tackling and intelligent clearance kicking from fly half Tom McAllister, saw Minety fend off everything that Frome could throw at them.
With flanker Josh Bull winning most of the lineout ball and scrum half Duncan Simpson orchestrating the defence, Minety pressed forward using centre Tom Windle to batter the heart of the Frome midfield.
Minety took the lead in the 10th minute from the boot of McAllister after Frome were penalised at a ruck.
The village team were desperately unlucky shortly after when winger Dave Cooke chipped ahead and Bull raced on to the ball and was clear of the defence, only for the referee to call play back and award Minety a penalty for a late tackle on the winger.
Another powerful run from Windle set up a ruck on the Frome line and McAllister extended the lead when the home defence was caught offside.
Frome pinned Minety back deep in their own half for much of the rest of the first half but, whereas in the past, tackling had been a weakness, this Minety side put in tackle after tackle to keep Frome at bay.
Minety lost the fearless Rob Hinwood to a head injury in the 34th minute, the flanker making a welcome return to the Minety line up after his university studies.
John Blair picks up and runs at the defence
The defence, expertly led by captain Andrew Hibbard, re-aligned and extended their lead in the 38th minute when centre John Blair picked up a pass on his own 22 metre line and ran the length of the pitch, shrugging off 4 tacklers to score under the posts.
McAllister added the conversion and Minety were 13-0 up.
More was the come in the final moments of the half. Simpson fed Hibbard and the captain broke through the covering defence and raced down the line to score in the corner to see Minety 18-0 to the good at half time.
John scores under the posts.
Despite dominating possession for large parts of the 2nd half, Frome were unable to break the determined Minety defence.
The home team eventually got themselves on the score sheet with a 62nd minute try as Minety began to tire. The successful conversion left the visitors 18-7 ahead.
But this Minety side were not about to cave in under the Frome pressure. Against all the odds they pressed forward and, after pushing Frome back on to their line, McAllister spotted an overlap on the left and threw a 20 metre pass to set up replacement winger Kieran Gash for Minety’s 3rd try in the 72nd minute.
Wallace on the charge
Frome’s 2nd try in the final play of the game was something of a consolation for all of their efforts in an absorbing encounter which saw Minety emerge victors by 26-14.
Wallace scores Minety’s 2nd try
Assistant coach Craig Smith said afterwards, “That was a polar opposite to last week. The tackling was awesome and everyone should be proud of themselves. The lads who came up from the 2nd XV, over half of the team, acquitted themselves brilliantly and showed tremendous commitment. There was real pride and passion across the pitch.”
Captain Andrew Hibbard was unable to pick out one individual for the Man of the Match award. He commented, “We had 16 men of the match out there today. A tremendous team effort.”
Kieran Gash scores Minety’s 3rd try.
nb. The referee’s score sheet shows the result as 26-14 however, scrutiny of the video of the match reveals the true score to be 23-14.
Minety Team: 1. Will North, 2. Owen Richardson, 3. Gareth Thomas, 4. Ash Windle, 5. Ben Scott, 6. Rob Hinwood, 7. Josh Bull, 8. Andrew Hibbard (c), 9. Duncan Simpson, 10. Tom McAllister, 11. David Cooke, 12. John Blair, 13. Tom Windle, 14. Del Murray, 15. Chris Rule, 16. Kieran Gash