Dorset & Wilts Div One North
Minety 13
Avonvale 12

MINETY edged a win over newly-promoted Avonvale on Saturday despite being short of their best, writes Graham Cooke.

Avonvale’s 2016/17 league season in Division Two had seen them unbeaten – 21 wins and a draw – and they have brought their compact, well organised approach into Division One.

Before Saturday's game they had won five out of six matches and were one place above Minety.

But Minety were into their stride quickly and took the lead in the second minute as full back Matt Roberts evaded five defenders before touching down beneath the posts. Scrum half Tom McAllister kicked the conversion and Minety were 7-0 up.

McAllister extended Minety’s lead in the eighth minute with a 22-metre penalty kick.

Avonvale struck back and got themselves on the scoresheet in the 13th minute with a penalty when Minety were caught not releasing the ball after a tackle.

The home team dominated in terms of possession and territory but despite some intricate passing moves and intelligent kicking from fly half Adam Watts, they were unable to impose themselves on the well-disciplined and mobile Avonvale defence.

In the 34th minute Avonvale kicked their second penalty to bring the score to 10-6 .

Minety’s task was then made even harder when both captain Tom Claxton and hard-hitting flanker Ben Sellick were forced off with head injuries.

Avonvale started the second half on the front foot and in the 44th minute kicked their third penalty to reduce the arrears to just a single point.

Both teams launched attacks in the next 10 minutes, Minety using their forward power to push down the centre while Avonvale preferred to attack out wide on the flanks.

McAllister eased the pressure in the 56th minute with his second penalty kick of the game (13-9) but Minety’s resources were stretched still further when Roberts, always an attacking threat from full back, was forced off with a recurrence of a back injury.

Avonvale took advantage and brought the gap back to a single point in the 68th minute with their fourth penalty.

The last 10 minutes were played out mainly in mid field and there was certainly relief on the faces of the Minety coaching staff when the final whistle was blown.

Coach Andy Grayson said: “We weren’t at our best today and the injuries and changes made life difficult. We started very well but our set piece play at scrum and line-out wasn’t as good as usual but we did enough to win and our game management, especially at the end, was excellent.”

Minety remain in fifth place and will need to win again at ninth-placed Trowbridge this weekend if they are to bridge the gap to the top 4 teams.

In the weekend’s other match, Matt Stone’s Minety 2nd XV overcame Bath Saracens by 52-17 and moved up into 5th place in D&W3N.