RUGBY: Calne 12 Minety 17
DEPLETED Minety hung on for a narrow win to return to the top of the table.
The visitors came up against a heavyweight Calne pack determined not to let them have the ball.
With a tranche of first team regulars unavailable, Minety conscripted a host of second team players.
They performed brilliantly, but found themselves up against a powerful home pack who wasted no time in imposing themselves in the scrums.
Calne dominated the early stages but were unable to break Minety’s dogged defence.
Midway through the half, the visitors finally got some possession, heeling at the scrum despite going backwards and snaffling Calne’s lineout ball thanks to nifty work at the back of the line by Ashley Windle.
Once Minety spread ball wide, it became clear that their backs had the edge on their opponents. Robin Greenwood and Luke Radcliffe both made good yards while inside centre Dave Church linked neatly with fly-half Jack Ward to score Minety’s first try from 30 metres out.
Ward kicked the conversion despite a fierce cross-wind and then added to Minety’s tally by looping round Radcliffe and reaching out of the tackle to dot the ball on the line for a try in the corner.
Twelve points down, Calne opted to play to their strengths in the second half.
They kept the ball among the forwards and Minety scarcely got their hands on it.
Pressing up the touchline, Calne set up a ruck 10 metres out from which Martin McCafferty broke up the narrow side. Bouncing off the winger, he piled over for a try in the corner.
Minety’s response was to drill the restart into touch near the corner flag.
Calne won the lineout, but Tom Fitzcharles and openside flanker Steve Brown charged down an attempted clearance.
The ball flew loose and Brown pounced on it to claim a try for Minety.
Returning to the attack, Calne rumbled forward through a series of scrums and mauls.
For a long while, Minety kept them at bay, but a growing penalty count undermined their defence and the referee’s patience.
In the end, he issued prop Martin Coe with a yellow card and awarded Calne a penalty try. An easy conversion by Matt Kelly made it 12-17.
With five minutes to go, Minety needed to get the restart as far downfield as possible, but the wind whisked it straight into touch, giving Calne a scrum on the centre line.
As the referee had sin binned a Minety prop, however, scrums had to be uncontested, neutralising the home team’s advantage.
Calne hustled but when Ward hoofed the ball into touch, the final whistle sounded on a narrow win for Minety.
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