Albany Knickerbockers RFC 15 v. Monmouth RFC 15
On a breezy fresh day on Dick Green Park Monmouth took the field with a weakened team to play NERFU D1 side Albany Knickerbockers.
Before kickoff it appeared Albany would have a physical edge in the backs with a much larger back line while Monmouth definitely had the edge up front with a big tight five and a nimble back row of Joe Corbo, Sean Mallon and Kevin Delia returning only five months after having hip surgery.
Albany came out of the gates well and crossed the Monmouth line after 10 minutes for a converted try after good work from their back row and centers. Monmouth came back strongly and pushed the ball into the corner to set up a good attacking lineout. Having secured the ball Monmouth crashed up the middle only to knock on the ball in front of the posts. However Monmouth did not let the Knickerbockers escape their own half and Rob Morello had several good runs that eventually led him to score an excellent unconverted try on 18 minutes from the unaccustomed position of center.THis was despite a dangerous attempted foot trip as he crossed the line.
Over the next ten minutes Monmouth enjoyed the majority of the possession but had a huge problem creating momentum over multiple phases as the referee started to display a decidedly laissez-faire approach to the breakdown. Players were allowed to play the ball while lying in the ruck, enter from any part of the ruck and leave their feet. Also we saw a different interpretation of the ball being out at the ruck where it seemed that once the scrum half had a finger on the ball it was deemed out and he was playable.
Despite much pressure Monmouth had to be happy with a penalty from Joe Lucarelli that was answered with one from Albany just before the half leaving Monmouth trailing 8 points to 10.
Just after the restart there were a bit of handbags following Kevin Delia’s well timed tackle on the Albany scrum half and following the kerfuffle he received a yellow for what the referee referred to as a “cheap shot”. It appeared that the Albany over reaction to the tackle resulted in the card more than any real evidence given Albany’s numerous tackles on Doug King from off side positions.
Albany kicked the resulting penalty to the Monmouth 22 and exploited the whole in the Monmouth back row to score a try off the tail of the lineout. Despite being in front of the posts the conversion was missed due a rumble at the kicker from Ken Pape.
At this point Pape was replace by rookie Don Lynch to add some mobility to the Monmouth pack. Ken had put in a hard grafting 45 minutes and had contributed well to Monmouth’s forward play despite having only recently rejoined the club. The front row of Jay Peterson, Michael Delia and Mark Hardy had decimated the Albany scrum with the support of Pape and James Barlow from the second row depriving them of any quality ball at the scrum.
Sean Mallon was having a field day at flanker putting in big tackles everywhere and denying the Knickerbockers good possession. The middle portion of the second half was difficult for Monmouth as once Kevin Delia came out of the bin he was replaced there three minutes later by Doug King who reacted badly to being punched in the head and once the referee had missed the initial punch Doug was always destined to go to the bin.
Monmouth played well with Doug in the bin and Kevin Delia had some excellent turnovers to relieve the pressure with most of the play was between the 22s. Rob Morello was inserted in to scrum half at with Doug in the bin and took several penalties quickly including one where he was punched by an Albany player not close to being 10. Just after returning to the field Doug had to retire with cramped calves to be replaced by Ken Pape which led to a reshuffle in the pack and Kevin Delia shifting to outside center.
Once Monmouth were restored to 15 they ramped up the pressure and this led to a sustained period of attack within the Albany 22. Given the number of offensive players that had to commit to winning the ball in the loose the Monmouth pack had difficultly creating their normal continuity game and were turned over near the Albany line twice. Eventually something had to snap though and Monmouth had a scrum right from which they quickly moved the ball to Joe Lucarelli who barged over, Joe then converted his own score to tie the game with about five remaining.
Both sides had chances to win the game but resolute defense and a knock on at the opposite end from Monmouth led to Albany kicking the ball dead after time ran out to end the game.
Mark Hardy, Michael Delia, Jason Peterson, Ken Pape (Lynch 45), James Barlow, Kevin Delia, Sean Mallon, Joseph Corbo, Doug King (Pape 73mins), Colin O’Neil, James Linehan, Joe Lucarelli,Rob Morello, Carlos Oliveria, Nick Lynch
Replacements. Don Lynch, Jon Slezack, Adam Carrigan, Pat Moroney
Monmouth negotiated a b-side game with a reluctant Albany and won a 10 a side game 15-0 with tries from Lynch, Morello and Moroney.
Post game Albany hosted Monmouth in the Victory Bar where Monmouth President Rob Morello presented a check for $1000 to the Michael Jones, Supplemental Need Trust.