Dowlais RFC | 1st Team 22 - 17 Monmouth RFC | 1st Team

Match Report
27 March 2024 / Team News

23/03/2024 Dowlais v Monmouth Admiral National League 1 EAST Match Report

Dowlais Vs Monmouth 23/03/2024 Match Report


Dowlais: 22

Monmouth: 17

A turbulent, exciting match and well-deserved victory for Dowlais this week, at home against Monmouth.

Despite the eventual result, things got off to a bit of a rocky and uncertain start for the home side, as Monmouth completely dominated the first few minutes of the match, coming out of the gates blazing and charging straight into the Dowlais twenty-two.

After a relentless onslaught over the course of the first five minutes, the visitors would score and convert the first try of the match, putting Dowlais behind with a 7-0 lead.

Things wouldn’t get any better with the following kick-off, as Dowlais soon found themselves on the defensive in their own twenty-two once again.

Although they would manage to escape this particular assault without conceding a try, the visitors would still return to the halfway line with a penalty under their belts, increasing their lead to 10-0.

Monmouth’s attacking front may not have been unstoppable – as shown by Dowlais managing to hold them off – but for how early in the match that they still were, a ten point deficit was far from encouraging. If Dowlais didn’t do something quickly, then that score gap could very soon balloon out of control to something that they wouldn’t be able to overcome.

After their second walk back from their posts to the halfway line in ten minutes, Dowlais seemed to understand this message loud and clear, as with the following kick-off, things finally began to shift in their favour.

After an opening spent almost entirely on the defensive, Dowlais finally began making some ground and managed to push the visitors into their twenty-two for the first time in the match.

It took a few attempts and a bit of a back and forth, but with some swift passes out to the wing, Dowlais were finally able to get on the scoreboard with a try of their own, touched down by Harley Swift. Although the blustery conditions made the conversion all the way from the wing veer off course, resulting in only five points instead of seven, Dowlais had cut a very significant chunk into Monmouth’s score gap.

Naturally, the boys tried to make the most of this momentum and charged straight back into the visitors’ twenty-two as soon as they got the ball back, with the intention of wiping away the rest of the score gap and taking the lead.

And in some ways, they did succeed in that effort. Thanks to Dowlais’ overwhelming amount of possession, Monmouth were pretty much forced to stay on the defensive for the rest of the half. They didn’t have any particularly strong moments of attack, with the home side’s defence standing strong during the few attempts that they did have, and didn’t get any more points during the remaining twenty-five minutes.

But at the same time, neither did Dowlais.

Although the home side had a bevy of opportunities, exerted a massive amount of pressure across the rest of the half and had some truly great moments in the process of getting to the Monmouth try-line, on every single occasion, they somehow managed to fall short at the last second.

Be it a horribly-timed penalty, a knock-on or losing the ball in the scrum, the boys simply seemed incapable of finishing the job for any and all try attempts.

And frustratingly, that’s just about where the first half would end off. Despite being well in control of the match for the last twenty minutes or so and all of the time that they’d spent in the Monmouth twenty-two, Dowlais hit the forty minute mark of the match with the exact same score that they’d had at the twenty minute mark, without a point to show for their efforts.

For much of the second half, that situation didn’t change. Dowlais continued with their ventures into the Monmouth twenty-two, fighting tooth-and-nail to finally get over the try-line once again, but just falling short each time.

With the amount of time that they’d spent banging their heads against this particular task, the remaining time that was swiftly bleeding away, and Monmouth starting to get back on the offensive, it was starting to look grim for Dowlais’ chances of staging a comeback.

But at last, at the sixty minute mark, after having spent almost half of the match trying to get there, Dowlais finally managed to break through for their second try, driven over and touched down by Nick Thomas and then converted by Connor Murphy.

Having taken the lead at last and brought the score to 12-10, things finally looked as though they were going Dowlais’ way. But agonisingly, just as those tides began to turn, a great, dire complication arose for the home side in the form of a yellow card.

With how contentious and close the half had been up until that point, and with Monmouth having revived their attacking efforts from their lull at the end of the first half, this seemed like a troubling sign for Dowlais and their newly claimed lead over the match.

Unfortunately, that prediction would soon be proven correct. Although Dowlais almost managed to withstand their ten minutes at fourteen men, just at the end of the sin bin period, Monmouth broke back through, scoring and converting their own second try.

With the score stood at 17-12, and with only around fifteen minutes left, Dowlais needed to pull out everything that they had to pull ahead again.

And it’s to my great relief to report that they most certainly did.

As the remaining time began to wind down to the single digits, Dowlais’ efforts to break through were assisted by a little bit of luck, when one of their kicks – one that was originally aiming for touch – was tapped by one of the Monmouth players just as it took off.

With the ball touched in flight, all offside rules were nullified, and the boys were able to catch the now redirected ball and launch a glorious charge to the Monmouth try-line. After some excellent running and passing by Ben Thomas and Chad Powell to get the ball deep into Monmouth’s twenty-two, the try was eventually touched down by Kyle Prosser, and later converted once again by Connor Murphy to put Dowlais back in the lead at 19-17.

But the excitement wasn’t over yet, as a scuffle following the scoring of the try would lead to both sides being dealt a yellow card.

Since Monmouth had also been put down to fourteen men, this didn’t affect Dowlais very much at first, they even managed to swiftly launch another attack into the visitors’ twenty-two shortly after.

Although they didn’t quite manage to get that fourth try for the bonus point, they nevertheless did very smartly choose to go for a penalty to widen their lead, one that was kicked by Connor Murphy once again, bringing the score to 22-17.

The complications would arise shortly thereafter, when disastrously, the home side were dealt yet another yellow card, wounding them down to thirteen men.

Although there were less than five minutes left on the clock, the sight of the weakened Dowlais seemed to reinvigorate Monmouth, who flared back to life for one last assault on the home side’s try-line.

Said assault eventually culminated in a lineout for Monmouth right on the five-yard line, and for a terrifying moment, it looked as though Dowlais’ hard-fought comeback was about to be snatched away from them at the last second.

But to the immense relief of players and supporters alike, Dowlais managed to snatch the ball from said lineout, courtesy of Chris Cleaver, before sending the ball flying back into the visitors’ half.

After a tense few final minutes, Dowlais managed to contain Monmouth to their own half until the clock struck eighty minutes, allowing them to proudly kick the ball to touch to secure their well-earned victory.

This week’s match was undoubtedly an exciting and nerve-wracking one to watch, especially in the final quarter, with the upper hand passing from side-to-side every few minutes, and the result being up in the air until the very last minute.

But beneath all of that, I think that Dowlais put up a very good performance this week. As frustrating as their unsuccessful efforts to score that second try were at points, in the end they did manage to score it and more, showing great grit and determination to do so.

In addition to a great attacking performance, the boys also put up a formidable defence, holding strong and keeping a cool head when it mattered the most, such as that final, crucial lineout in their own twenty-two, where they managed to put a stop to Monmouth’s final attack.

Although some penalties and careless yellow cards definitely made things harder and more uncertain than they needed to be, the boys ultimately managed to pull through.

Some special attention should be given to their choice to go for the penalty near the end of the match to widen their score gap to a more comfortable berth. Without those extra three points, a penalty or drop goal would have been enough for Monmouth to just barely take the lead and snatch victory away – something that I have no doubt they would have capitalised on with all of the pressure that they had in the Dowlais twenty-two in those final minutes. The decision to go for that penalty very well could have won them the match.

Let’s hope for another similar victory next week, as Dowlais play the exact same side again, only this time, on their turf, away in Monmouth.


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