Mountain Ash RFC | 1st Team 31 - 24 St Peters RFC | 1st Team

Match Report
17 November 2019 / Team News

Second Half Downturn Nearly Costs Mount Win

Supporters coming to Duffryn Pennar Park this season have had their money’s worth that’s for sure. Two games against Rumney and the games against Treorchy, Rhiwbina, and now St Peter’s have been exciting affairs that have gone to the wire.

After playing their best rugby for several seasons in the first half and going into half time 23-3 ahead, the game looked over, but Mount never played with the intensity they did in the first half. With St Peter’s taking advantage, they hit back, scoring 21 unanswered points through three converted tries to lead 24-23 with 8 minutes to play.

This provoked a response from the Old Firm which eventually led to victory, but it showed that nothing short of an 80 minute performance is good enough to ensure a win.

The Mount team has the potential to be able to match the best in Division 1, but only if they play for 80 minutes in attack and defence. With a last 16 Specsavers Plate game coming up and a very competitive Division 1 East Central division, the team need to play full-on for 80 minutes in attack and defence otherwise it will eventually be their undoing – there’s no second chance in Cup rugby.

St Peter’s went ahead in the 1st minute with an impressive strike from a 47 metre penalty to go into a 3-0 lead. Mount hit back straight away. An attack on the visitors’ 22 saw second row Jarrod Parfitt find space and sprint away, to be brought down just 5 metres out where a penalty award from wide out was nicely struck by left wing Morgan James to make it 3-3. The Mount scrum was on top from the first minute with Tom Harper, Jack James and Bleddyn Lock forming a solid front row. The Old Firm were full of running, moving the ball to all areas of the park. Outside half Declan Conway broke in midfield which centre Alex Hughes took on to take play to 10 metres out. Another attack involving Conway, flanker Dai Richards, Hughes, flanker Mitchell Barnard and Parfitt again had the visitors defence stretched. Mount went 6-3 up with a lovely strike from a 38 metre penalty by wing Morgan James after 20 minutes.

Both sides were very positive in their approach, with plenty of open play. A good take at a lineout in the St Peter’s half was moved one way and then the other, full back Jarrod Cushion joining the line and showing his pace to burst through a gap, side step a defender and dive in at the corner to score a superb try and finish off a fine attack to make it 11-3 after 26 minutes.

The pressure continued on St Peter’s. Centre Alex Hughes broke through in midfield and gave to wing Morgan James who beat one man and sprinted into the corner for another well-worked try with good handling and passing. His conversion from the touchline was a beauty and took the Old Firm’s lead up to 18-3 after 34 minutes.

Right on half time, an attack down the Stand side took play up to the St Peter’s 22, with wing Curtis Williams doing well to hang onto a pass. The ball was moved into midfield and then back again, centre Steve Brittain, who was returning after injury, finishing off another impressive attack to score Mount’s third try of the half, James’ conversion hitting a post. The score ended Mount’s best half of rugby this season and the game looked won and a bonus point assured.

Whether this lulled the Old Firm into a false sense of security or not, the visitors were on top from the start of the second half and dominated territory for the first 20 minutes with Mount not getting into the St Peter’s half until the hour mark. The visitors had more intensity and hunger than the Old Firm and it showed as they harassed and pressurised Mount in their own half.

After 48 minutes, St Peter’s were rewarded when a gaping hole in midfield saw a visiting player sprint through it and make one pass for a simple try under the posts which was converted to reduce the Old Firm’s lead to 23-10.

Further pressure from St Peter’s near the Mount line was defended by the Old Firm and on the hour mark, Mount took play up the visitors’ 22 for the first time in the second half. A back move involving centres Brittain and Hughes, and wing Morgan James, took play to 15 metres out, but a knock-on allowed the visitors to clear.

After the forwards delivered ruck ball near halfway, a midfield pass by Conway was intercepted by a St Peter’s player and he sprinted away and looked a certain scorer. But full back Cushion, showing remarkable pace, chased him down and eventually tackled him metres out to stop a certain try, but he was penalised at the resulting breakdown and yellow carded.

The visitors kicked to the corner, and from the lineout, a well-judged crossfield kick was caught by their wing and he alluded a tackler to run in from 10 metres out for a try. The conversion was superbly struck over from the touchline to bring the visitors right back into the game at 23-17 down after 69 minutes.

The game was turned on its head a minute later when St Peter’s, with a man advantage, run the ball out of defence and set their wing away down the touchline with the Mount defence sparse. On halfway, he passed inside to a supporting player who took the move on and another pass saw a visiting player run in for a sensational try under the posts to the great excitement of the visiting support. The conversion was put over with ease, and in the blink of an eye, the Old Firm had gone from 23-10 up to 24-23 down with 8 minutes left.

Mount upped their game from the restart. A kick out of defence by the visitors saw wing Rhys Davies run back hard and set up a ruck. The ball was moved into midfield where St Peter’s were penalised for handling at a ruck, giving the Old Firm a 35 metre penalty.

With Morgan James having left the field due to injury, outside half Conway stepped up, composed himself, and struck it straight between the posts to put Mount 26-24 up after 75 minutes.

The Mount forwards secured the restart and went back on the attack. Play was taken into the St Peter’s 22 where prop Tom Harper was stopped a couple of metres out. He laid the ball back and from a couple more drives, flanker and captain Matthew Rees drove over to the great delight of the home support for a bonus point try and a 31-24 lead. Conway’s conversion struck a post but there was no way back for St Peter’s in the couple of minutes of injury time played to leave the Old Firm with a win that takes them up to 4th place in the Division 1 East Central table.

If there’s a lesson from this game the Old Firm need to take on board straight away it’s to play with intensity for 80 minutes. The game looked over at half time, but St Peter’s proved it was not. There are no easy games in Division 1 East Central, and in one-off Cup games such as the last 16 of the Plate, which is coming up on Saturday December 7, such a fall-off in form in the second half could prove fatal.

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