Avonvale 57

Minety 3

A patched up Minety were taught a harsh lesson in finishing as they were heavily beaten by Avonvale on Saturday to extend their run of defeats to three.

Avonvale, beaten only three times this season, ran in nine tries on their way to victory, despite Minety dominating both possession and territory, especially in a second half where they were camped on the Avonvale line for long periods.

With club captain Tom Claxton still out with a head injury, Andrew Hibbard captained a team which gave Ned Lockwood his first team debut and brought in a number of second team players to fill the squad.

The game kicked off under grey skies and a whirling cold wind.

Avonvale opened the scoring with a well worked try by the right hand corner flag after a lineout on the other side of the pitch the ball was moved quickly cross field for the winger to touch down.

Hibbard looked to have broken through for an equalising try soon after but play was brought back when the assistant referee indicated a foot had touched the line.

Minety’s lineout, without regular catcher Ben Scott, also out with a head injury, held up well, Matt Chisholm in only his second match of the season, took the ball confidently and providing good ball to the new half back pairing of Del Murray and Will Mason.

Strong tackling in midfield from Morgan Aubrey, second row Matt Stone and centre Bram Coleman kept Avonvale at bay as the home side opted for an open attacking style with Minety content to keep the ball in tight.

Minety opted for an open attacking style but it cost them dear in the 18th minute.

Avonvale gathered a loose ball in midfield and, after a suspiciously forward looking pass, broke the line, their second row ran in to touch down beneath the posts. The conversion was successful and Minety were 12-0 down.

Minety struck back and centre Jack Howse, Stone and prop Colin French were all held up by a well disciplined Avonvale defence.

As Minety pressed, Avonvale were penalised on a number of occasions as Hibbard drove his forwards.

Tempers flared up in the 26th minute as the battle intensified and the referee had to speak to both captains to calm the situation down.

Avonvale’s third try came in the 28th minute. With Minety desperately pressing for a try, a chip over the Avonvale defence was caught by the full back who launched an impressive attack featuring three quick passes to allow the fly-half a run in from half way with the Minety defence caught upfield.

Will Mason, in his second appearance of the season, posted Minety’s first score in the 32nd minute with a long range penalty after Aubrey had been illegally cleared out of a ruck.

Avonvale ended the half strongly with two tries in stoppage time, the first a push over from a scrum, the second a run in by the centre after play had broken down in midfield.

The villagers were reduced to 14 players in the opening minute of the second half when Howse picked up a leg injury, a blow as Minety has no available substitutes. Avonvale capitalised on the advantage, plundering a try on the short side after a ruck near the Minety line.

The seventh try came from another breakaway. A Minety attack down the right broke down in the home 22 and a swift attacking move down the left involving four players saw the full-back cross for a try which he converted to take Avonvale into a 43-3 point lead.

A solo effort from scrum-half Murray was taken on by Hibbard and Rule before Lockwood was held up over the line as Minety pushed for their first try. In the next passage of play, Stone, French, Murray and Hibbard all went desperately close but were kept out by the impressive Avonvale defence.

A wonderful run by Mason, who beat three players, was halted on the Avonvale 22 and when Hibbard caught the clearance kick and ran it back it seemed certain that Minety would score but Stone, now playing in the centre, and full-back Chris Rule both went close without being able to breach the defensive line.

Minety’s chances of salvaging anything from the match went with 10 minutes to go when winger Langridge suffered a re-occurrence of an ankle injury that had kept him out for a month earlier in the season before hooker Jay Thompson suffered a shoulder injury.

Desperately tired and outnumbered all over the pitch, Minety were unable to hold out and Avonvale’s prop scored close to the posts with three minutes left and the Batheaston outfit finished the game with a further converted try in stoppage time to run out 57-3 victors.

Coach Andy Grayson had nothing but praise for his side after the match, he said: "I couldn’t have asked for more effort. We were down to 14 men at the start of the second half and then lost two more to significant injuries but the team kept going and I thought they were desperately unlucky not to score at least one try, especially since we had so much possession and territory."

Next week Minety take on Calne at home, hoping to arrest a slide that has now cast them adrift of the top sides, sitting in 7th place 7 points behind Trowbridge and 12 ahead of 8th placed Sutton Benger.