1XV v Machen (Away) 08 Sep 2012

21-16 Win

An Away Win for Monmouth

Despite player shortages due to injury, Monmouth repelled a late surge at Machen to hold on for a 16-21 win in a game that had seen two tries each but more reliable goal-kicking by the visitors.

As usual the Monmouth pack dominated particularly in the first half, but they had not planned to recall 2nd Row John Powell from his well-deserved retirement. His loyalty to the Club might cost him dearly though as some players were overheard wondering if they could claim a refund on their parting gifts to him.

The forward power was clearly apparent, reinforced by flanker McGowan seeming to be wherever the action was. This, backed up by the thrusts of No 8 Wheeler and scrum-half Thomas from the base of the scrum ensured much of the first half was played in opposition territory.

And yet despite this, and a yellow card for the home team flanker for a high tackle as well as (eventually) a penalty from the boot of fly-half Roberts, they were to turn around 5-3 down, thanks to a casual pass in a move which should have brought a try for Monmouth from an overlap, but was instead snapped up by the Machen left wing who ran 50 yards to take a half-time lead.

Machen now would have the advantage of the slope but greater composure by Monmouth in addition to their first half superiority and less penalties given away at the breakdownwas likely to see them through.

Their cover defence was tested almost immediately when Machen ran fast and long from deep, but as in the first half the tackling was sound.

Adam Roberts led the counter-attack with strong runs as his confidence grew, but Machen retaliated in kind, and with the benefit of an unpunished forward pass, found themselves pressurising Monmouth 30 yards from the visitors’ line. Monmouth regained possession but a too hurried attempted pass along the line saw yet another interception try 8 minutes into the second half extending their lead to 10-3.

Play had hotted up with both defences being fully tested but Thomas levelled things 10-10 when he cut the field in half with a speedy weaving 35 yard run which saw him scoring untouched under the posts.

Machen were not to be outdone spreading the ball wide towards an overlap on the left, but a key try-saving tackle by captain of the day, prop Matt Ricketts allowed Monmouth to clear their lines again with a driving scrum and a deep relieving kick from Thomas.

A change in the Monmouth front row brought a penalty. Dissent at the decision made the kick 10 yards easier and took Machen ahead again but the immediate riposte saw the scores levelled at 13-13.

With the clock running down, wing Dave Brace kicked Monmouth into a 13-16 lead which provoked a strong rally by Machen.

When another kickable penalty was awarded allegedly for a Monmouth player not releasing the ball, the partisan visitors protested long and loud that a Machen player had lain on him preventing it, but in the excitement the referee saw a frustrated Machen boot aimed and at the cost of a lump on the head, fortuitously reversed the penalty.

It was now very much nip and tuck with even the home touch judge feeling the need to award questionable long touches when the ball had appeared to cross the line in-goal, but from a strong break by hooker Phillips, Wheeler was on hand to finish off the move stretching the score to 13-21.

This merely intensified the pressure and Monmouth were adjudged to have handled at a ruck giving Machen the chance to gain at least a losing bonus point for themselves with a closing score of 16-21.

With fewer mistakes, a full side and more reliable goal-kicking Monmouth should do well but next week is yet another stern test when they again travel away but to Blaina who they have not faced in years.

Tries: L.Thomas, E.Wheeler
Conv: A.Roberts
Pen: A.Roberts (2), D.Brace

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