1XV v Ynysddu (Home) 19 Oct 2013

13-19 Loss

Last Ditch Loss For Monmouth

Strong words behind the scenes saw a different Monmouth in the early stages of their home league game against Ynysddu last Saturday. Vigour was apparent from the very start and it was no accident that Monmouth threatened the visitors line on a few early occasions.

Full back Anthony Layne was at his incisive best masking a telling break upfield but instead of finding support on his left had his chip kick charged down but it was immediately hacked on towards the try line only for an eager forward to be adjudged offside.

A little to and fro kept supporters enthused on both sides and then from a ruck the pace of scrum half Morgan from his quick penalty led to a premature tackle and a neatly struck penalty by fly half Rhys Ricketts putting Monmouth first on the score-board after only 10 minutes.

A few errant kicks direct to touch by Monmouth backs kept pressure needlessly on Monmouth but the pack dogged away with as usual No.8 Mike Griffiths being the prime ball carrier amongst the forwards but this time aided by returned hooker Leighton Phillips who provided a fine ‘go-forward’ and abrasive display, too.

The adventure of the early stages had Ynysddu questioning whether this was the team that had lost most of its previous matches. But gradually the visitors in turn found their rhythm and this combined with a line-out dominance throughout the game and a willingness to give the ball plenty of air through their backs kept Monmouth on the defensive for the bulk of the first half but the defence remained strong but for the occasional missed tackle on what was becoming an increasingly greasy pitch in the rain and also tellingly when Ricketts put in a high up-and-under which Monmouth failed to regain just beyond the halfway line only for Ynysddu to outwit the stretched defence for the first try of the game.

Ynysddu were also more accurate with their goal-kicking taking advantage of two transgressions by Monmouth (and a few failed attempts by the home team) to lead 3-11 at the break and as the Heavens opened in some style. At least it proved the Pavillion guttering worked, if not the storm drains, as people tried to take cover wherever they could leaving the players to cool off in the downpour.

The second half started with necessary fizz from Monmouth when from a position close to the line Griffiths was able to force his way over early on from a crabbing but strong piece of scrummaging. Ynysddu may have claimed a weakened front row due to injury but young Tom Green is certainly beginning to find his feet at loose head and Lee Watkins was anchoring the scrum well on the tight side in the absence of Matt Ricketts due to injury.

With the ball now like soap and the pitch like an ice rink, play became more of a lottery allowing Monmouth to pin Ynysddu near to their line for long periods. Kicking was also more difficult and Ricketts twice failed to kick the home team into the lead from relatively kickable positions on a normal day.

Ynysddu were resilient though and were all but through as two defenders slipped whilst trying to tackle only for the player making the break to slip himself as he was about to set off unchallenged for the line.

Much kicking to touch followed by both sides which did not particularly help Monmouth because of the prowess of Ynysddu’s No. 7 and jumper but wit6h the ball in hand they were now moving the ball along the back-line with occasional intelligent kicks through to the corners.

One seeming score on the right by wing Meredith was called back for a marginal forward pass but then a series of rucks eventually driven back by Ynysddu brought a breakthrough and Ricketts kicked the home team into a 13-11 lead with only ten minutes of play left.

Monmouth kept up the pressure but resolute defence and a combination of bad luck and failed kicks at goal kept Ynysddu a danger. And then with a minute of normal time to go they converted a penalty for a late tackle to regain the lead 13-14.

Monmouth strove to get back down-field but were pegged back into their left corner by a very determined set of visitors, only to succumb to a further try this time by a winger playing like a sniping scrum-half in broken play. The kick failed which at least meant that Monmouth had the consolation of a losing bonus point but they deserved more given their considerable improvement.

Ynysddu return to The Sports Ground on Saturday but this time for a 2nd Round Swalec Bowl game (ko 2.30p.m.) when the prospect of this repeat contest is quite mouth-watering and sure to attract even greater support from local rugby fans hoping to see Monmouth back on the road to winning.

Tries: M.Griffiths
Conv: R.Ricketts
Pen: R.Ricketts (2)

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