1XV v Abertysswg (Home) 21 Sep 2013

23-28 Loss

Monmouth Rally Falls Short.

On an excellent day for running rugby, Monmouth entertained Abertysswg last Saturday for their first ever visit to the Sports Ground, and overplayed the hospital welcome by letting them run amok, building an almost unassailable 6-22 lead by half-time.

From the start the visitors appeared well organised and robust and their fly-half was someone with a old boot who exploited the slope well, pegging Monmouth back in the corners frequently.

Monmouth retaliated well, moving the ball to the flanks to make ground but Abertysswg covered well snuffing out more than one such promising move by tackling any attackers into touch.

But the visitors were more obviously the ones on the front foot, either with ball in hand or chasing up their deep kicks and although on many occasions they were rebuffed by the home team, eventually they succumbed to a 5 point try after only 12 minutes but one wondered whether the bigger of their forwards would be able to maintain the pace they were generating.

The old heads in their midst knew how to defend as well but Monmouth fly-half Ricketts was able to peg them back with a penalty for offside in mid-field.

That is until a move near the home line was allowed to progress from left to right whilst the referee was playing advantage for a Monmouth knock-on and awarding a try in the corner despite an apparent further knock-on in the centre. The good conversion stretched the lead to 3-12 at the end of the first quarter.

A reversed penalty for back-chat which had been kick-able for Monmouth saw Abertysswg regain position and soon a further penalty of their own which Ricketts was able to neutralise within minutes.

6-15 with half-time beckoning made for greater vigour by both sides. Abertysswg made best use of superior possession and territory by finding themselves under Monmouth’s posts. A quickly taken penalty brought the visitors another seven points and despite a rousing passage of inter-passing and supporting play by the home team, it was too little too late as the half-time whistle blew.

The coaches steadied the ship with their interval talks. 6-22 could be overcome if they tightened up on mistakes and persevered with their own game, but some in the crowd had their doubts.

Monmouth set off well using the lowering sun and the slope to put Abertysswg under pressure, first kicking for position and then driving mauls towards the line.

Perhaps this worked too well, encouraging Monmouth to kick a little too often as displayed by a wasted move when they had five against three players defending but used the boot instead.

Elusive scrum-half Thomas was probing well but ran out of support on one occasion having weaves his way through for a 20 metre advance. Three-quarter moves were increasing but passes were wide and a little frantic, but ten minutes in to the half from a penalty for a foul tackle Ricketts kicked Monmouth into the right corner.

No. 8 Griffiths rose salmon-like at the ensuing line-out and hooker Dean Bartlett was on hand in the maul to touch down over the goal-line. Ricketts added the difficult conversion to cut the lead to 13-22.

Monmouth's confidence was growing as the Abertysswg forwards flagged. Griffiths with a piercing run took on a move the backs had started but the chance of another score fizzled out as he tried to cut back inside.

Play moved back up-field but Abertysswg who had annoyed the referee with their repeated questioning of his decisions had a penalty reversed and from the touch in the corner Griffiths again took the ball really high and held on long enough for his team-mates to drive him over the line to narrow the score to 20-22.

Both sides were striving to secure the win now and the voluble visitors were next made silent when Ricketts just cleared the crossbar to convert a 45m penalty to take the lead 23-22 with a full 15 minutes of play left. But the visitors were not giving on easily as they regained the lead with a penalty.

Monmouth fought hard but became a little too frantic in their play and when they conceded another penalty for off-side they were chasing a try rather than a penalty.

Several opportunities arose but after a 40 metre move although substitute Edwards did well to be up with a chance of scoring the thought of scoring for the second time in one month seemed to overcome him and the chance disappeared just a few metres out.

The pressure was sustained but a forward pass coupled with some wild passing and now dogged Abertysswg defence saw the last few minutes out and a 23-28 loss for Monmouth.

The stirring second half fightback makes the return match something to look forward to when Monmouth will hope to be nearer a full complement but first they must make the journey to Oakdale next week when hopefully they can build on this week's near result.

Tries: D.Bartlett, M.Griffiths
Conv: R.Ricketts (2)
Pen: R.Ricketts (3)

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