1XV v RTB Ebbw Vale (away) 28 Feb 2015

34-38 Loss

Stunning Comeback Just Fails Monmouth

An excellent first half by RTB Ebbw Vale last Saturday, helped by some poor opposition tackling and isolated outbreaks of pointless glory seeking, resulted in a 33-3 lead for the Head of the Valleys team at half-time. So demoralised were a couple of supporter stalwarts that they moved on elsewhere assuming there was no way back.

RTB who after some patchy years can now field a team consisting of fifteen men developed together through mini and then Youth to form a 1st XV players of impressive team spirit.

First RTB got the nudge on in the first scrum of the game, albeit playing downhill, and their early use of the corner to corner wind to gain much territory looked worrying.

A delayed pass by a Monmouth back led to an easy interception and a 7 point deficit inside 10 minutes and an opportunity for the visitors went begging with a floated pass when a direct run along the touchline looked a more profitable option.

The home team were good at support running as evidenced when their scrum half made a darting run to pop the ball to a team-mate when tackled for 14 unanswered points in 14 minutes but flanker Rees, who had a superb game led a rally and but for the referee being unsighted would have been rewarded with a try after breaking a tackle and stretching out to the line. Play was called back however for a penalty which full back Tabb converted.

The next 20 minutes saw the home team on the rampage aided by kicked balls being allowed to bounce, gaps in the defensive line, weak tackling, more wild passes and the benefit of a further interception adding three more tries plus a bonus point and all without reply.

Pride then was restored as captain Sam Harding and the rest of the back row led a flurry of attacks but RTB’s outstanding full-back, playing on permit, was repeatedly on hand to ease the pressure by kicking deep into Monmouth’s left hand corner.
But what a change a breather can make.

Monmouth came out in the second half and were soon on the front foot. Following a quick penalty and some winning rucks, new boy in the centre, Smith, ran with determination towards the right corner and nearly made the line himself. His popped pass was gratefully received by the supporting and nippy White to score Monmouth’s first of what was to be many tries.

RTB were not outfaced and once again their full back made good ground for them again aided by a woeful tackle but fortunately for Monmouth the move foundered.
Sam Harding made 40 metres in return backed up by varying forwards but RTB were again able to kick long and high to relieve the pressure now that the wind had changed direction.

A chip ahead by Monmouth resulted in the ball being run back at them but even though Rees back-tracked a full 50 metres to tackle the ball carrier in the right corner his offload resulted in an unconverted try for the home team that seemed rather obviously passed forward. 38-10 and with only a quarter of the game to play remained a mountain to climb.

Ordinarily Monmouth would have folded at this further setback, but they suddenly began to play with abandon. Centre Lane seemed to have wasted an overlap when he cut inside, but his forwards were up and after several phases the indefatigable Griffiths was able to drive through to ground the ball right on the line.

The visiting forwards were getting a second wind running and linking well and veteran Davies, who had played a steadying game throughout at fly half showed his guile to round the defence to edge the score upwards to 38-24 with ten minutes left.

Monmouth were now attacking on all fronts with RTB doggedly defending. Play was being forced from wing to wing and White’s jinking breaks were creating gaps for others to follow through.

RTB began to crack under the pressure and the final minutes were thrilling as Monmouth battered away at the line, scoring two unconverted tries in four minutes courtesy of first Rees, and then Griffiths again!

Another 60 seconds could well have seen them achieve the win their comeback deserved against all the odds. But it was not to be and they had to content themselves with two bonus points instead. To RTB’s credit they had hung on even though in desperation at times.

Having shown what they can do when their gander is up should give Monmouth good motivation for the visit of Ynysddu to the Sports Ground (k.o. 2.30p.m.) this coming Saturday despite their current superior standing in the league.

Tries: D.White, M.Griffiths (2), A.Davies, T.Rees
Conv: M.Tabb (3)
Pen: M.Tabb

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