1XV v Nantyglo (Away) 29 Mar 2014

15-29 Loss

Beaten – but many questions raised.

A 29-15 win with a bonus point to Nantyglo, the hosts, for scoring four tries would one would think be a clear cut answer to their contest with Monmouth last Saturday. But not so for their visitors.

Clear league leaders Nantyglo were at an advantage from the start with their inability to field a front row thus negating Monmouth’s well known strength. Uncontested scrums reduce the game to crowded seven a side style rugby and this by a successful team that prides itself on its driving maul which brought them back on a par with Monmouth on the stroke of half-time.

Their allegedly weakened pack was sufficiently robust to remove from the field in the first twenty minutes two key visiting forwards with one needing hospitalisation following a very precisely directed boot in the groin and the other for a high concussive contact to the face. Referees cannot see everything one knows but why do they appear to miss so much?

Off-sides pale into insignificance by comparison and yet very decisively as Monmouth were pressing near the home line at 15-8 with virtually no ordinary time left to play, a free kick was awarded against them for throwing into a line-out too slowly. What on earth possessed him in thinking they were time-wasting?

And yet when in the second half a local supporter was seen by all around the pitch to go onto the field of play and assault Monmouth’s youngest player, despite having it drawn to his attention then (and at the end of the game) the referee chose to decline to act and instead re-started the game with yet another uncontested scrum by Nantyglo!

The weather was near ideal for a good game with Spring-like sunshine, a dry ground and only a slightly gusting breeze running the length of the field. Monmouth set off in a very determined way into the breeze putting Nantyglo under a great deal of pressure.

The home defence was however resolute and despite a large amount of territorial advantage it took Monmouth 27 minutes and two long distance failed penalties before that defence succumbed to a try by right wing Adam Roberts who scooped a loose ball 10 metres out of the right hand corner and cut inside a defender for the first points of the game. The conversion failed but wing Matt Tabb redeemed himself when from a poor defensive clearance the local players failed to retreat and fell a further three points behind to a penalty.

This stirred Nantyglo who responded immediately and were able to kick a long distance penalty of their own.

To and fro the game went and Roberts again made ground on the right but passed inside direct to a back-tracking home three-quarter who was able to set Monmouth back in their own half.

Fly-half Ricketts kicking may have deteriorated of late but his defensive performance was colossal as he appeared virtually everywhere when needed and seems never to be inhibited by heavy tackling responsibilities. Would that he were supported as reliably by all around him although the forwards drove hard with the younger members of the pack growing in maturity by the week.
Sadly a Monmouth player ran from in front of his kicker and from the resulting penalty, Nantyglo gained the line-out from which they were able to drive a maul and level the score at 8-8 at the change-over.

Nantyglo started the second half with even more determination only to have a try disallowed for lack of grounding and then visiting fans were heard to raise a cheer when a deision and a penalty went their way near to the end of the third quarter.
Monmouth’s centre Dewi Lane led a break-out taken on by Adams and Tabb but a knock-on halted a threatening move and then hooker Dean Bartlett made good ground but was penalised for holding on. The kick regained the ground for Nantyglo but some aimless kicks ahead resulted in fair catches relieving pressure.

The game was deteriorating as many off the ball incidents went unnoticed and thus unpunished along with off-sides and then surprisingly Monmouth lost its scrum-half Price leaving the field for ten minutes as he tried to intercept a pass near the half-way line.

The intruder came and went causing a fracas in the process and suddenly from the restart Momouth went 7 points behind as Nantyglo stretched the visitor defence first one way then the other before scoring.

Injury time came with the free kick reported above and another try to Nantyglo as they cut through easily in the centre only to receive a riposte as they looked to score again with centre Lane intercepting and running to score under the posts. Tabb converted for a 22-15 score with three minutes of injury time gone but the losing bonus point opportunity was whisked away as Nantyglo took advantage of tiring legs by their opponents to move the ball along the line once again to gain themselves a 29-15 win and a bonus point. A win certainly, …. but justice?

Tries: A.Roberts, D.Lane
Conv: M.Tabb
Pen: M.Tabb

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