Rugby: Minety finished their season on a high, beating Bridport 7-0 in the play-off for promotion to Southern Counties.

In the tightest of games, it was only determined tackling by the whole team that kept Minety in the hunt until a try by winger Ryan Dowling finally saw them through.

Victims not only of the usual litany of injuries but also of absences of key young players due to cricketing obligations, Minety were forced to draw deep on their reserve of former first-team players who have been playing for the seconds in recent seasons. As it worked out, the recalls not only excelled themselves, but also brought the very best out of the younger players around them.

This was just as well, as they were up against committed opponents with a speedy three-quarter line and a passionate hunger for promotion in what skipper Martin Coe afterwards described as the toughest game Minety had played all season.

Bridport pressed hard from the off and it wasnt long before they had their opponents penned back on their own line. Their cause was severely dented, though, when one of their props broke his leg. The player concerned was a key impact runner who had scored many tries in previous games.

Minety survived the initial onslaught and gradually came into their own. Twice they crossed their opponents line only to have apparent scores disallowed.

With hooker Andy Moran throwing in perfectly to the lineouts and the rest of the front five in top form, the home side dominated up front but the visitors looked dangerous every time they moved the ball out wide. Flyhalf Tim Vaughan played a masterful game for Minety, as did centre Gareth Dyer, who tackled tirelessly all afternoon. The back-row were also outstanding both in defence and with the ball in hand. Charlie Gawthropp and Max Smith excelled themselves, while James Smith put on an astonishingly skilled and astute display on his belated return to first team rugby.

After a typically gutsy performance, Minety scrumhalf Tom Fitzcharles was forced to leave the field with a groin strain. His place was taken by the experienced Andy Brown, who calmly steered his pack through the tense final 30 minutes.

The breakthrough eventually came for Minety when Bridport dropped a pass just inside their own half. Before anyone else could react, Dowling was through on the ball, scooping it up and sprinting for the line. He had 40 metres to run but no one could stop him.

The successful conversion left Minety with a seven-point lead and 20 minutes left in which to defend it. Bridport gave it their all, but they couldnt break their opponents steely grip on the game and it will be Minety who go up to Southern Counties next season.

"This was a great end to a fantastic season," commented Coe after the game.

"Competing in Southern Counties again will be a huge challenge but we're looking forward to it and by the way theyve played today, the guys have shown that theyre certainly up for it."