1XV v Hafodyrynys (Home) 22 Oct 2011

26-21 Win

Monmouth Win to Lead League

Hafodyrynys, Swalec Division 5 East League leaders lost their unbeaten record last Saturday as Monmouth’s stronger set piece play formed the foundation of a stirring game and an excellent if close victory over them.

But it was not plain sailing as Hafod were first to score just minutes into the game, driving over the line for a seven point lead.

Monmouth rode the initial shock and were soon pressing at the other end of the field and in a mirror image move they, too, scored when flanker Ed McCord finished off the drive for the line. Fly half Rhys Ricketts failed to convert from far out on the left but the visitors were more fortunate soon after as they extended their lead wit a penalty to 5-10.

Playing with the wind and the slope, Hafod when once again encamped in Monmouth’s 22 metre area, took a quick penalty and added a further unconverted try despite the attentions of two tacklers. Luckily the blustery wind was impeding the kickers as the ten point gap was going to be sufficient challenge to overcome on the second half.

Catch up rugby was now the order of the day, but the power of the Monmouth pack was bound to have tired their opponents, and intelligent kicking using the slope and the still strong angled wind should ensure greater territorial dominance. More support at the breakdown and more certain first time tackling should negate much of their opponent’s counter-attacking threat.

But despite an early penalty confidently kicked by Ricketts it was quickly apparent that it would not fall into Monmouth’s lap as they were penalized for slipping the binding in the back row, bringing a balancing penalty success for Hafod.

Monmouth gradually upped the pressure and their front row in particular was hurting badly, and as play continued their defences began to crack. Failure to release in the tackle brought another successful penalty for Ricketts who was using the wind to good advantage.

Hafod, encouraged by their big and quite elusive fly-half were always a threat but Monmouth’s defence was now more resolute. The only criticism was that they still did not try hard enough to pin the visitors in their own 22 with the intelligent kicking the coach had requested, Luckily Hafod was not coping well with the scrum and line-out pressure exerted upon them nor the driving play of Monmouth as the six penalties awarded to the home side for scrum offences demonstrated and when McCord was on hand to score again after a quick penalty, heads were visibly sinking behind the posts as Ricketts brought the scores even at 18 points a-piece and the game entered its final quarter.

Monmouth were continuing to grow in confidence with several sorties bringing them near the line after fast hands movements to and fro. Their opponents were driven back from yet another destructive scrum drive and Monmouth moved into the lead with only five minutes of ordinary time remaining from the boot of Ricketts for coming up in the front row because of the pressure they were under.

Widening attacks increased in frequency and right wing Adam Roberts evaded several tackles and gained much ground before feeding the almost inevitable McCord who went over for his hat-trick of tries and a 26-18 lead which seemed to be the final nail in the coffin.

But from being down and out, Hafod forced their way up field well into injury time, and although Monmouth initially seemed to have snuffed out the danger, a technical offence at a defensive maul gave them the penalty near the posts that they needed to end the game on 26-21 and with a valuable losing bonus point. But they had seen the league lead change hands with the promise of a fantastic return game early in March.

Before then is a tough game again away next week against old rivals Nantyglo whose pack normally gives as good as it gets – so roll on Saturday for another rousing game.

Tries: E.McCord (3),
Conv: R.Rickets
Pen: R.Ricketts (3)

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