U11 v Pontyclyn (Away) 06 Jan 2013

17-22 Loss

Monmouth Bears returned to competitive action for their opening game of 2013, their first in four weeks and only their fourth outing in the last ten weeks, by making the trek down the M4 to Pontyclun. How they’d fare, weighed down by an excess of mince pies and Christmas pudding over the festive break was anybody’s guess, but they knew they’d have to get back into the groove early-on against well-drilled opponents.

The early exchanges were even, with no quarter given by either side, but eventually the Bears began to gain some territorial advantage. Some great inter-play and passing saw the Bears get close to the opponents’ whitewash, with Henry Watkins using all his strength to crash through the home defence to touch-down right on the line – the score could not be improved upon, with the conversion going astray.

The opening score seemed to boost the Bears as they became more dominant, doubling their tally not long after with marauding centre Alastair McIntosh breaking through desperate tackles to touch-down, this time with a successful conversion following. To their credit, the hosts suddenly 12 – 0 down, came back at the Bears. Their free-running backs began to get their hands on the ball and some fine passing along their back-line saw them test the Bears’ defence. The pressure began to tell and their right-wing made a solo dash down the touch-line to narrow the scores.

The first score for the hosts began to galvanise them and it was they who for a while began to dominate matters, especially at the break-down, eventually doubling their try-count whilst also benefiting from some missed tackles from the Bears – with their second try converted, the match was all square at 12 – 12. As half-time loomed, the Bears were at last back on the front foot. Flying winger Will Green, previously thwarted when seemingly set to score, got the ball in space out on the right, this time taking-on his opponent on the outside to touch-down – half time arrived with Bears 17 – 12 ahead.

The second-half proved to be a real scrap, with chances for both sides going astray through a combination of tough tackling and passes failing to go to hand. The Bears always seemed to threaten the line, but some decision making was lacking on occasion with players failing to make the final decisive pass with team-mates in good positions. Back came the hosts with their third try of the day to bring the scores level once again. It was clear that the next score would prove to be the winning one as the game entered the last few minutes – unfortunately, it went to the hosts, going blind at a five metre scrum to create a two-on-one against the Bears lone defender. Try as they might, the Bears could not find the elusive score to draw level, despite finishing the game camped close the hosts’ try-line.

In summary, a cracking game on a sticky pitch, very competitive to the end, with a single score separating the teams – a shame there had to be a loser. Battling scrum-half Ieuan Rose, once again working overtime at the breakdown, was deservedly presented with the Player of the Week Award for his great all-round performance. With the festive cobwebs now firmly blown away, the Bears next week face a round-robin at home, the first time on their own turf since early November – happy days!

Final Score: Pontyclun 22 – 17 Monmouth

Tries: Henry Watkins, Alastair McIntosh & Will Green
Conv: Ben Pilot

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