1XV v Nantyglo (Home) 02 Nov 2013

21-26 Loss

Nantyglo Steal It

Monmouth have had enough of playing second fiddle to teams this season, so with a few new faces all of whom were apparent in their endeavours, and some positional changes, they set about Nantyglo last Saturday in awful weather conditions as if their very lives depended upon it.

The pack was more vigorous and the half backs were linking well with their three-quarters, putting the visitors under considerable pressure despite the elements being strongly against them.

A combination of kicks and forward charges into the visitors' 22 metre area were a feature of the early stages and even when the ball was turned over Nantyglo found it hard to clear their line. Second Row Aaron Cox and back rowers Phillips and Griffiths were prominent and after several winning rucks fly half Rhys Ricketts broke through with the pack in support and it was prop Luke Hunter, newly returned from injury, who gained generous applause for being the first on the score-board and this after only seven minutes. The ball blew off the kicking tee and Ricketts hurried alternative drop-kick went awry.

An exchange of penalties moved the score on to 8-3 before scrum-half Gareth Morgan delivered a trademark solo try from 45 metres out which left many of the opposition standing. His pace off the mark and the element of surprise can be invaluable.

The 15-3 lead inside the first quarter brought Nantyglo fully to life and play moved to within 15 metres of the home line for a penalty to be awarded. A fracas broke out following an injury to a Nantyglo player resulting in a yellow card for Monmouth's robust No 8 Mike Griffiths which was to let Nantyglo regain an immediate 3 points and much of the territorial advantage that previously had been under Monmouth control.

A further quickly taken penalty was interrupted within ten yards bringing yet another but allowed to be taken quickly again by a referee who did not please the home crowd too often.

Soon after, Nantylgo won a ruck with illegal use of a hand which the match official missed. Monmouth protested and as a result another quick penalty moved the ball left across the field to put the visiting left wing in for a try at the corner.The kicker used the wind well to narrow the score to 15-13.

The referee was at least consistent and when he saw handling in the ruck he penalised the offence and sadly it was Monmouth's Cox who transgressed. As he left the field for his ten minute spell Griffiths returned but the lead had now changed to 15-16 and half-time arrived along with a drenching downpour.

With the wind now in their favour, kicks ballooned when kicked up-field and separate charges back by first Morgan and then Griffiths brought Monmouth in range for a Ricketts goal and a change of lead to 18-16 after only three minutes of the half.

Nantylgo responded immediately and from a crooked throw to an uncontested line-out near to the left hand corner the visiting left wing slipped in at the corner untouched.

Some deep kicks to the corners, the deepest of which came from the boot of centre Davies, and it was he who led a charge but his pass to a team-mate was knocked on over the line when it seemed easier to score.

Ricketts was next on the mark with a good penalty to draw the scores 21-21with ten minutes of normal time left - and then misfortune, (or indiscipline ?) struck again.

Flanker Gray was 'sin-binned’ for handling in an attacking ruck only 25 metres from the opposition line and play quickly switched to the other end. Monmouth defended desperately as Nantyglo repeatedly hammered away at their line.

Gray seemed destined to see out the game on the side-line but with injury time added the referee surprisingly cut short the time penalty balancing up the sides again. With the extra man restored to the pack one might have hoped that the now more dominant pack could be held out but having won their scrum 10 metres from the line Nantyglo quickly transferred the ball to a man on the right who dived up and over the tacklers to score in the corner for a try that sealed the match.

The kick was incidental, for Monmouth had again all but seen just reward for their much improved efforts only to fail in the last play of the game. A losing bonus point was scant reward and now they have to see if the disruption of the Autumn Internationals help or impede them in their pursuit of the win they deserved.

Tries: L.Hunter, G.Morgan
Conv: R.Ricketts
Pen: R.Ricketts (3)

www.monmouthrfc.com Telephone: +44 (0)1600 712309 Email: info@monmouthrfc.com copyright Monmouth RFC 2017