Winscombe battle to victory in windy Minehead clash
MATCH REPORT: Minehead 1st XV 5, Winscombe 1st XV 12
Winscombe 1st XV saw off Minehead in an entertaining game in blustery conditions on Saturday.
Playing into a strongly gusting crosswind in the first half, Minehead started the game with more intent than their visitors, driving through their forwards and mixing the play around their outside-half.
They were soon pressing the line and, when held up over it, won two five-metre scrums before driving over from a quickly-taken penalty after only four minutes.
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Winscombe responded by putting together a number of phases, with Aaron Ford and Will Thomas making line breaks to earn a penalty under the posts, but the simple chance was missed.
The visitors were soon on the attack again from the drop-out but spilled the ball five metres from the line and then lost it in contact after Fryer had won the first of his five strikes against the head.
Minehead broke out from their line down an unguarded blind side and put together a similar passage of play to their opening salvo, only to concede a penalty on the Winscombe 22.
Greg Brown won the resulting lineout on the home 22 and Thomas broke away from the driving maul, with support from Brown and Chris Aske putting Thomas back in for the try. Pugh converted to put Combe ahead after 17 minutes.
Minehead were quickly back within five metres of the Winscombe line but good scrummaging saved the visitors.
Winscombe dominated territory throughout the second quarter and mounted some useful attacks but failed to add to their tally, losing possession at crucial moments, not helped by having to field a changed back-line for the eighth game in a row.
The windy conditions made passing difficult but was not the reason for the comedy of errors that constituted the first five minutes of the second half.
Until well into the final quarter, Minehead persevered with a driving and kicking game but were thwarted by a determined defence in which Adam Scrase was prominent.
The pressure was interrupted by some lively Winscombe attacks from deep and three times Lucas Humphrey was set free down the right, with only a foot in touch preventing a score after his third effort.
The first time Winscombe could sustain some pressure against the wind, they produced a second try to seal the game.
Substitute hooker Louis Hooper claimed a ball against the head with the assistance of tighthead Scrase and Howell twice drove on to open up the blind side for substitute Andy Ball, who found both props outside him. Simon Thompson sent his partner Scrase over in the corner with five minutes of normal time remaining.
There was plenty of injury time as well and Minehead became more expansive in search of a way back into the match but the Winscombe defence held firm, with the Ford brothers and Callum Stewart making important tackles.