Mountain Ash RFC | 1st Team 20 - 18 Nant Conwy RFC | 1st Team
Ifan Emyr Williams
1 Try
Elis Fôn
1 Try
Caron Rhys Davies
1 Conversion
2 Penalty

Match Report
29 October 2023 / Team News

Old Firm Win Delights Supporters

The Old Firm delighted their supporters amid great excitement at Duffryn Pennar Park to progress to the last 16 of the Division 1 Cup with a dominant last quarter to close out unbeaten Division 1 North table toppers, Nant Conwy, who were last season’s beaten finalists. Just as the game was about to kick off, the heavens opened, with both sets of supporters packing into the grandstand to create a great atmosphere, especially as the excitement grew.

Three penalties to the visitors in the opening minutes saw them make ground to 5 metres out from the Mount line, but the Mount forwards were quickly into a ruck from a blindside move to turn the ball over which outside half Jayden Pugh cleared with an excellent 40 metre kick to touch.

Flanker Daniel Phillips took a Nant Conwy lineout and set a Mount attack going by linking with flanker Dai Richards who handed on to prop Bleddyn Lock. Second row Jarrad Parfitt drove on to the Nant Conwy 22 where the attack was continued to 5 metres out where Mount were awarded a penalty. Outside half Pugh slotted it over to make it 3-0 after 8 minutes.

Five minutes later, the Old Firm had a golden opportunity to go further in front. After a lineout take by flanker Richards which was fired out across the line, centre Jarrod Cushion cut through in midfield but there was a lack of support either side of him 5 metres out otherwise a try must surely have been scored.

The Mount defence were kept on their toes by a well organised and capable Nant Conwy side who set up attacks and used the width of the field. An exchange of kicks ended with No.8 Steffan Calderbank hoofing the ball downfield into touch in the Nant Conwy 22 to great applause.

Mount took play to 10 metres out but were faced with a well-organised Nant Conwy defensive line across the field, and a rushed pass 10 metres out saw the ball knocked on.

After 25 minutes, a lineout take by second row Ellis Veale on halfway saw outside half Pugh chip over the oncoming Nant Conwy midfield into space. Cushion was quickly through on it and was first to the bouncing ball, kicking it fully 35 metres over the visitors line where he won the race and dived on the ball to score a great try to a great cheer from the packed grandstand. Pugh slotted over the conversion to make it 10-0.

The game was entertaining and competitive, with both sides contributing. With just 5 minutes to half time, a kick by Nant Conwy out of their 22, which was a standard kick and which should have been dealt with by the Mount defence, saw the ball bounce in plenty of space, and although a Mount player got hold of it the visitors’ forwards were in to be awarded a penalty which was kicked up to the Mount 22 metre line.

Second row Veale disrupted the Nant Conwy throw-in and tapped the ball back, but it was not secured by the Old Firm and from 15 metres out flanker Ifan Williams picked up, drove on, and was then driven over by his pack to score an unconverted try out of the blue for Nant Conwy to the delight of the travelling support to make it 10-5.

The score gave the visitors a boost and they finished the half with another attack which took play into the Mount 22 where the ball was recycled at least a dozen times across the field. The Mount defence was well-organised and committed and kept the visitors out with tackle after tackle. Eventually, though, the ball was passed to outside half Elis Fon from a ruck 5 metres out and he cut through to score under the posts in the 45th minute of the half to the delight of the Nant Conwy support. Centre and captain Caron Davies converted to turn the game on its head and send his team into half time 12-10 up.

The wind was stronger than what it felt and it was the Old Firm who played against it in the second half. Pressure by Mount in the opening minutes saw them awarded a penalty midway out near the 22. Pugh looked to have slotted it right through the middle, but the wind held it up and as the ball came down just under the crossbar, a Nant Conwy defender dropped it and with the Mount chasers quickly-in, there was confusion as to whether the referee had awarded a try or a penalty. It turned out to be the latter which Pugh kicked to put Mount back in front 13-12.

A failure by Mount to clear the ball upfield saw a diagonal kick into the Mount 22 where full back Iestyn Robins came under pressure. Tremendous defence by Mount a metre or so out across the field somehow stopped the visitors from scoring, but they were awarded a penalty under the posts which centre Caron Davies kicked to put his side 15-13 up after 50 minutes.

Further pressure by Nant Conwy took play up to the Mount 22 where another penalty from close-in was converted by Davies to extend his side’s lead to 18-13 after 53 minutes.

From this point on, it was astute play by the Old Firm which saw them dominate play for the most-part. Drives by the Mount forwards up to the Nant Conwy 22 saw scrum half and captain Ross Davies break blind from a ruck and link with No.8 Calderbank who put in a powerful run to metres out and passed to hooker Kieran Coomer who was just forced out at the corner to great excitement. Flanker Richards took the Nant Conwy throw-in, and after patient play from the Mount forwards took them up to the visitors’ line, hooker Coomer was awarded the try from a drive over near the posts. Pugh slotted the conversion over to put the Old Firm in front 20-18 after an hour’s play.

The last quarter saw the Old Firm tactically spot-on with the Mount forwards causing the visitors plenty of problems as they drove on and made ground, and were awarded several penalties. Mount captain Ross Davies kept a cool head and opted to kick for touch rather than at goal to keep the visitors under pressure, with Mount dominating the lineouts and setting up further forward drives. Prop Geraint Lock put in several strong drives to make ground.

There were two chances for Nant Conwy though, one being a difficult 40 metre penalty after 66 minutes from wide out, which was hit wide, and then from loose play on the Nant Conwy 22. After 73 minutes of this pulsating game, several forward drives saw flanker Richards veer off into midfield where his pass out of the back of his hand went to ground and was hacked on down to the Mount 22 by a Nant Conwy midfielder who raced upfield with several others in pursuit. Great covering by Mount centre Jarrod Cushion saw him slide in to secure the ball superbly, get up quickly, and make 5 metres under intense pressure from the visitors to stop a real scoring opportunity.

As soon as the visitors got hold of the ball, there was no let-up from the Mount pressure on them. A lineout take and drive on halfway saw a penalty award to the Old Firm 40 metres out, captain Davies opting for Pugh to fire the ball up the touchline into the Nant Conwy 22.

With two minutes to go, a high kick by Pugh deep into the Nant Conwy 22 and then an ankle tap on the defender who tried to run out saw flanker Dai Richards quickly in to get Mount a penalty 30 metres out to increasing excitement and noise from the Mount support in the grandstand. A kick out of defence by Nant Conwy to full back Liam Jones saw him trap the ball with his foot before firing the ball back into the visitors’ 22 where he followed up quickly and made a tackle 15 metres out.

Another kick to touch and another lineout take saw another penalty award 5 metres out, which Pugh kicked to touch for the referee to call time to the delight of the Mount support and bring an end to the most exciting game seen at Duffryn Pennar Park this season.

This win by the Old Firm against strong, capable opposition put them into the last 16 draw. Captain Ross Davies showed a cool head to play the last quarter perfectly, keeping the pressure on the visitors. All the Mount forwards played their part in this win as did the rest of the Mount side which defended with great determination when they had to.

Mount are back to League action this Saturday, 4 November, with a visit to Cambrian Welfare, kick off 2.30pm. The Mount team need to put the win over Nant Conwy behind them and ensure they are up for the challenge.

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