1XV v Machen (home) 17 Jan 2015

15-21 Loss

A Near Thing

Last Saturday's game was eventful indeed with 5 tries and 4 yellow cards shared between the two sides.

It featured an abysmal start by Monmouth with the first converted try by Machen coming in no time at all after they quickly recycled a real 'stopped in the their tracks' tackle by 2nd row Copley but then sliced through the centre as players looked on.

From the re-start, wing Tabb was adjudged, harshly in the judgement of some, to have interfered in the air with the catcher to receive a yellow card for his troubles. Monmouth regained position after the penalty kick but successive handling errors including a forward pass and then a fumbled interception required a a good covering tackle by fly-half Jordan Howell to prevent a further immediate score.

The problems of a such a haphazard start continued however and weak tackling left Machen with a considerable overlap on the right which gained them another seven points and all this inside the first ten minutes! Machen looked much the sharper at this stage and the home team were living dangerously indeed.

Monmouth knuckled down and gained some respite when centre Roberts kicked a penalty in return for offside but when two defenders failed to tackle an intruder between them a further try by Machen seemed certain but when tackled the offload was fortunately ruled forward.

Howells was instrumental in making ground and the visitors were glad to be able to scramble his neat chip kick into touch deep in their right corner. From the lineā€“out and an ensuing ruck prop Green drove into the heart of the visitors' defence, laid the ball back from whence it flowed along the line right to Farr who was supported at pace by full back Connors to narrow the score to 8-14.

Monmouth were now in the ascendancy with Howell breaking clean through to score near the sticks making Roberts' kick a certainty. At 15-14 the home forwards were noticeably keen to run ball in hand and a good drive by hooker Bartlett was ended only by illicit means as Machen tried to spoil the move. It may have been on half-way but Roberts opted for a kick at goal which sadly fell short but by only a few feet.

Tensions were rising as half-time drew near and two yellow cards were awarded for the biggest 'handbags at dawn' show for some time after an alleged late tackle. The break allowed tempers to cool in the icy air.

Monmouth proved almost too full of eagerness as the second half developed. Scrum half White, showing his usual elusiveness and pace, ran the ball back from a miss-kick and when he had an overlap of two outside him entering the right-hand corner he elected to cut inside and go it alone only to be cut down as the line beckoned. It was to prove a costly mistake.

White redeemed himself soon after as he linked well to put right wing Farr over but he unfortunately knocked on in the process. Both sides were now defending resolutely with play swinging from one end to the other? First Monmouth nearly let their opponents through in mid-field and next it took a late tackle on a Monmouth player to disrupt matters. Roberts tried but this 40 metre kick went well adrift.

The Monmouth pack lost one against the head possibly because the crowd were sarcastically calling for the ball to be put in straight and when it was things went awry.

Machen then ran a move well off the back of the next scrum through the hands of four players to go back into the lead 15-21 but still with 16 minutes of normal time remaining.

Both sides were throwing caution to winds with players on both sides running when they should have kicked as well as the converse. Players came off injured after struggling for a while and, as this was a friendly, injured players went back on to replace them. Others took too much upon themselves trying to beat opponents when the whole world was crying out for them to draw their man and pass rather than succumb to desperate tackles.

Machen perhaps showed the greater desperation at this stage having a player sin-binned for persistent spoiling in the tackle area but held out they did as Monmouth mounted a last ditch rampant attack only to knock on as the final whistle blew.

A stirring and enjoyable afternoon's rugby which hopefully may be replicated in next Saturday's league game away against Blackwood Stars.

Tries: C.Connors, R. Farr
Conv: A.Roberts
Pen: A.Roberts

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