1XV v Hafodyrynys (Away) 03 Mar 2012

8-18 Loss

Monmouth Fumble in League Race

Having won at home in the autumn fixture, Monmouth and their supporters had eagerly awaited the return match at Hafodyrynys. The game played last Saturday (3 March) proved to be the hard fought contest that both sides had expected but this time it was to be Monmouth who fumbled in the Swalec League Division leadership race.

The home team did not disappoint their voluble supporters taking play deep into the Monmouth half from the off. Despite some resolute initial defence, Monmouth cracked after only four minutes to go 5-0 down on their left flank. Kicking was to remain a lottery for both sides’ kickers during the first half as a cold and unpredictable wind gusted strongly.

Having regained their composure, Monmouth forced their way back into the game but were next to miss a kick at goal.

The visiting pack were struggling to gain their usual ascendancy, although some of the line-out takes were excellent in the middle and once new second row Sam Harding did especially well to steal one from Hafod when Monmouth were under some pressure.

Both packs competed well with the visiting back row of McCord, Griffiths and Morgan supplemented by new arrival Phillips at hooker all carrying strongly. But when it came to turnovers or slowing down the ball at the rucks, it was Hafod who displayed the best of the forward black arts to the apparent satisfaction of the referee.

A high tackle led to a successful penalty kick by Hafod’s fly-half and it was a full half hour into the game before Monmouth appeared on the score-board courtesy of a box kick by scrum-half Morgan, carried on by left wing Anthony Layne for a try in the left hand corner.

Box kicks were working, but another soon after by Morgan for Layne was adjudged to be off-side just as Monmouth looked set to score once more.
With half-time fast approaching fly-half Ricketts clawed back a penalty kick to leave the sides equal on 8 points each at the break.

The team talk emphasised the need to protect the ball at the breakdown and particularly for Monmouth to be ‘in their opponents’ ‘faces’ as in fact Hafodyrynys had been in theirs so effectively throughout the first half.

Playing up the slope now should have been eased a little by the wind in their favour but the elements did not play ball either by improving somewhat, but Monmouth got stuck in with Ricketts next missing a difficult penalty kick.

And then things began to unravel,l with two seemingly harsh yellow cards being shown in quick succession to Monmouth forwards and yet amazingly this led to Monmouth’s best phase, keeping out the marauding home team forwards for all the time they were down to thirteen players.

But when numbers were again even Monmouth must have eased back just a little because first the speedy Hafod full back evaded a tackle in the left corner to stretch their lead to 13-8, and despite quite valiant efforts by Monmouth to close the gap, he popped up again as defenders ball watched to add a further 5 points which proved to be the final 18-8 winning total despite attempts to close it for a losing bonus point.

Lessons will be learned, but Monmouth individually are blossoming in many areas, including their strength in depth which will be important as the remainder of the ravages of the season unfold. The focus is clear – their narrow league leadership needs to be expanded, not just maintained over the coming months.

Internationals now again intervene, with The Druids playing the 1st Battalion The Rifles at Noon on Saturday 10th and a 1st XV friendly versus Cwmbran away at 7.30p.m. on 16 March.

Tries: A.Layne
Pen: R.Ricketts

www.monmouthrfc.com Telephone: +44 (0)1600 712309 Email: info@monmouthrfc.com copyright Monmouth RFC 2018