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Machen 33 Monmouthshire 50 at Welfare Ground, Machen, on Friday 5 November 2021
Machen RFC is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year. As part of its celebrations throughout the season, a commemorative game against invitational side Monmouthshire was played on Friday, November 5.
Monmouthshire came away with a hard-fought victory over their hosts on a dry, fine but chilly Bonfire Night, writes contributor Ray Ruddick.
This is the first game the county has played since lockdown. Their last match was at the Welfare Ground in Newbridge on Friday, March 13, 2020, against a Llandow Select XV to commemorate the Llandow Air Disaster.
The sizeable crowd at Machen enjoyed both sides running with the ball at every opportunity which made for an open and entertaining encounter. Thirteen tries in total were scored – five for the home team and eight for the county side in this enjoyable match under floodlights and kept referee Lee Gibbs busy.
Monmouthshire County kicked off defending the road end of the ground. In the first minute Machen intercepted a pass inside their half and left wing Owen Morgan sprinted 70 metres to score the opening try under the posts and outside half Doug Hann converted (Machen 7 Mon County 0). After seven minutes the County took a quick tap penalty inside Machen’s 22 and, after several forward drives, back rower Leigh Sweet (Trinant) scored a try to the right of the posts, which centre Callum Rowland (Bettws) converted (7-7). In the 13th minute good inter-passing between forwards and backs created a try for Richard Powell (Nantyglo) which was converted by Callum Rowland (Bettws) and put Monmouthshire in the lead (7-14).
Five minutes later another interception gave Machen their second try of the evening, scored by centre Aaron Billingham, after Monmouthshire had been on the attack. The conversion was missed (12-14). In the 23rd minute Machen scored a try under the posts by back rower Matthew Crane with Doug Hann adding the extras (19-14). Three minutes later the County hit back and regained the lead with a try by centre Steffan Morgan (Newport Saracens) under the sticks, which was improved by Callum Rowland (Bettws) (19-21).
Ten minutes from the interval and Monmouthshire stretched their lead with another try, again scored by Steffan Morgan (Newport Saracens) after some good play. This was converted by Callum Rowland (Bettws) (19-28). Two minutes later and after a powerful driving maul, the visitors scored a try through hooker Lewis Lippiatt (Pontllanfraith) in the left corner. The difficult conversion attempt failed (19-33). In the 34th minutes a mistake by Monmouthshire let Machen in for a try under the posts by Aaron Billingham, his second of the evening, and Doug Hann slotted the easy conversion to make the half time score Machen 26 Monmouthshire County 33.
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The first dozen minutes of the second period were evenly contested and no score resulted. Then in the 53rd minute the County scored a try to the right of the posts by full back Mitchell Rankins (Brynmawr) converted by Callum Rowland (Bettws (26-40). Two minutes later and a third interception by Machen on Monmouthshire’s 22 gave the home side their fifth try of the contest, scored under the posts by Aaron Billingham to complete his hat trick, and he duly added the conversion (33-40).
Eleven minutes from time the visitors crossed for a try in the left corner by replacement Tom Harris (Blackwood) following a quick tap penalty. The conversion was missed (33-45). Three minutes later another replacement Will Carter (Abertillery Blaenau Gwent) scored a great individual try to the left of the posts but the conversion failed. Final score – Machen 33 Monmouthshire County 50.
The County pack was too powerful for the Machen eight but credit to the home side who never lost heart and gave a good account of themselves. They can be rightfully proud of their performance and pushed their visitors all the way.
So congratulations to Machen on reaching 150 not out and wish them well as they continue their celebrations throughout the season. For Monmouthshire County, their next match is on Friday 19 November when they visit Llanhilleth Park as Llanhilleth belatedly celebrate 125 years.
Machen: Josh Perrin, Keelan Jones, Arron Billingham, Adam Nicklin (captain), Owen Morgan, Doug Hann, Cullen Bonnici Ryan Harris, Jenson Jenkins, Craig Vernall, Zac Wright, James Lindsay, Callum Hughes, Matthew Crane and Tom Fouweather. Also played: Morgan Roberts, Ethan Harris, Dale Beachy, Sam Collins, Jim Evans, Ollie Kincaid, Lewis George, John Verrier, Chris Edwards, Olly Curtis, Curtis Ahern, Richard Wilkes, Dafydd Morton, Charlie Charlesworth, Jack Guy and Kieran Hill.
Monmouthshire County: Mitchell Rankins (Brynmawr), Kurtis Haile (Abertillery Blaenau Gwent), Callum Rowland (Bettws), Stefan Morgan (Newport Saracens), Matthew Jones (Abertillery Blaenau Gwent), Richard Powell (Nantyglo), Liam Thomas (Pontypool United), Morgan Davies (Beaufort), Lewys Lippiatt (Pontllanfraith), Rob Sevenoaks (Ebbw Vale), Adam Lane (Brynmawr, captain), Luke Rees (Blaina), Leigh Sweet (Trinant), Ryan Bevan (Nantyglo) and Pat James (Newport Saracens). Also played: Casey Roomus (Blaenavon), Kaine Davies (Abercarn), Matthew Doddridge (Caldicot), James Tidmarsh (Abercarn), Tom Harris (Blackwood), Jay Millington (Blackwood), Conor Miles (Blaina), Dan Scott (Pontypool United), Sam Burt Ryan (St Julian’s), Jonathan Coleman (West Mon), Ben Blakemore (Abercarn), Nathan Meyrick (Pontllanfraith), Will Carter (Abertillery Blaenau Gwent) and Alex Howes (Abergavenny).
Referee: Mr Lee Gibbs (Nantgarw)
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