1XV v Nantyglo (Home) 24 Mar 2012

43-7 Win

A Game of Two Halves

With last Saturday more suited to sunbathing or even swimming, Monmouth’s return to the Swalec League after the break for the 6 Nations Internationals nevertheless achieved maximum points with a 43-7 win against Nantyglo.

With conditions perfect for running rugby, the visitors were soon under the cosh with full back Matthew Tabb and left wing Rob Farr combining well on the left to allow scrum half Gareth Morgan to open the scoring with a sharply taken try. The conversion faded across the front of the posts but fly half Rhys Ricketts was to have plenty more practice eventually contributing 13 personal points.

The re-start fell short of the requisite ten metres keeping the pressure on Nantyglo and before long Monmouth took the head at another scrum allowing centre Dewi Lane to split the defence to take the score to 12-0 with an easy conversion from Ricketts.
Nantyglo fluffed their first chance to kick three points and their defensive line kicking was sufficiently wayward to allow Monmouth’s back three to mount counter-attacks a-plenty.

A mere 20 minutes play brought another turn-over scrum and scrum-half Morgan at his pacey best streaked down the left wing but with space tightening, just put his foot on the touch-line robbing him of a second try.

The backs were on fire and Farr next ran fast and elusively to gain immense ground before being closed down. Flanker Ed McCord was as usual on hand to pick up the pieces and score with the dependable Ricketts again converting.

Young Matt Tabb was next on the score-board counter-attacking with verve. His kick ahead bounced kindly and he was over for another converted try, a welcome bonus point and a 26-0 lead and still with 13 minutes of the half to play.

The 20°C were beginning to tell as injuries and the lack of breeze began to slow down the action, but Lane was at least still alert and when he intercepted a potentially scoring move along the Nantyglo line there was no-one to turn and chase him the 50 yards and more to the line.

Half time brought a much needed breather for both sides and when Ricketts comfortably converted a penalty at the beginning of the second half, the large crowd assumed more would be coming soon.

But the cliché of ‘a game of two halves’ reared its head with a vengeance, as the team work of the first half evaporated somewhat for Monmouth. There was still energy but from individuals and with support work dropping off as players flagged in the continuing heat.

Changes of personnel may have helped but when flanker substitute Ed Wheeler only lasted 30 seconds before a spell in the ‘sin-bin’, the pressure on Monmouth increased and Nantyglo dug deep into their reserves of pride.

A little unnecessary bickering by Monmouth brought a quick penalty for the visitors 55 yards out from which they caught the home defence napping for an easy 7 points of their own which at last rallied Monmouth, who in turn benefitted from a yellow card for the visiting scrum-half who had frustrated a good attacking move from an offside position. Lane was unlucky though as his kick-through for a hat-trick of tries was disallowed because of an uncertain grounding.

Time was running out but a succession of penalty scrums and recycled rucks saw Monmouth camped on the Nantyglo line and when the ball was spun left Farr was rewarded with a final try. Fittingly Ricketts’ kick succeeded with the aid of the upright for a convincing win despite the relative quiet of the second half.

The trip to Ynysddu next Saturday 31 March (k.o. 2.30p.m.) will be a vital one in helping decide who wins the League, so it is a game travelling supporters may well wish to see.

Tries: G.Morgan, D.Lane(2), E.McCord, M.Tabb, R.Farr
Conv: R.Ricketts (5)
Pen: R.Ricketts

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