FINE first-half tries from Jack Ward and Tom Fitzcharles gave Minety victory over Devizes seconds in their last home game of the season but were not enough to secure a bonus point as dropped ball and opposition spoiling prevented their making further scores.
Dorset & Wilts Div One North
Devizes II 7
Sunshine and a dry pitch promised free-flowing rugby, but though Minety started positively, their ambitions were largely thwarted by their opponents adopting a damage-limitation policy of slowing possession and killing the ball whenever possible.
Sound tactical kicking by fly half Ward pinned the visitors back and it was his kick to touch which set up an attacking line-out just five metres out from the Devizes line. The home forwards securely gathered the ball and though Ward was brought down just shy of the line on his first attempt, his pack patiently recycled the ball and the second time he made no mistake.
An easy conversion of his own try made it 7-0.
Highly experienced Minety forwards Martin Coe, Andy Hurley and Craig Smith are all due to retire at the end of the season, but they each made their presence strongly felt in this, their last appearance on home turf. Their storming runs, bustling tackles and committed rucking kept their opponents continually on the back foot and their contributions will be sorely missed next season.
Smith was forced to retire injured after 30 minutes, but though Devizes attempted to disrupt the set piece, consistently wheeling the scrum, it was to no avail as Minety launched from the base just outside the visitors' 22. Fitzcharles slipped through two tackles to score under the posts, and Ward slotted the kick to make it 14-0 at the half.
With the wind and slope against them and the sun in their eyes in the second half, Minety struggled to add the two tries needed to secure a bonus point. Scrum half Ben Thomas created havoc for the tired Devizes pack and forwards Tom Windle and Max Smith both put in good runs. The backs continued to look lively but vital passes went astray and the home team failed to trouble the scoreboard again.
In the end it was Devizes who managed a consolation score, breaking from deep in their own 22 and creating an overlap to put away their speedy flanker for a long run-in.
Still second in the league and with a tight finish to the season guaranteed, Minety travel away this Saturday to take on Chippenham seconds.