RUGBY: Frustrating loss for Minchinhampton

MINCHINHAMPTON got nothing out of a game in which they more than competed with promotion-chasing Smiths.

Gloucester Div Three

Smiths RFC 20

Minchinhampton 10

Having had to make several injury-enforced changes, Minch took time to get going.

The opening 10 minutes was scrappy from both sides with an exchange of penalties the only scores.

After some sustained pressure from Smiths and several penalties, the referee reduced Minch to 14 men for 10 minutes.

With the extra man Smiths continued on the front foot, putting the Minch try line under constant threat. Eventually they crossed in the corner after working an overlap, to go 8-3 ahead. This woke up the Minch side and now back to full strength they went on the attack. For 15 minutes Minch kept forcing opportunities, going close twice, last-ditch try-saving tackles from Smiths keeping them out.

The weather continued to deteriorate and had a massive impact on how both teams played. With hail and rain coming in horizontally, plus some lightning, the ref took both sides off the field and called it half-time.

After a 25-minute break the game restarted with Minchinhampton playing into a very stiff wind. This forced a change of tactics and, running everything, they put Smiths under pressure. With what looked like a very harsh decision from the ref for side entry at a ruck, Smiths were awarded a penalty. Minchinhampton turned their backs in frustration and were punished, the Smiths No.12 running in from halfway to increase their lead.

Minch responded well after the restart, driving their way close to the try line, capitalising on comprehensive dominance in the scrums. With Smiths consistently getting away with killing Minch ball, the visitors could have got frustrated. But they held their nerve and scrum half Tom Hiatt sniped past three defenders to score a converted try, following a sustained period of pressure in Smiths' 22.

With several injuries to key players Minch were forced to make changes, disrupting their attacking momentum. Smiths again took the upper hand and scored out wide after some good work from their pack.

In bone-chilling wind, the game petered out in an error-strewn last 20 minutes, leaving Smiths the victors.

Minch coach Mike Crawford said: "It was a frustrating loss. We were very much in the game all the way through.

"Had we been a bit more clinical just before half-time I think we would have gone on to win. The boys deserved more from that."

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