Rugby union: Mold head into relegation play-off on back of Llandudno defeat

MOLD are heading into Saturday’s big relegation play-off with a seriously depleted squad.

Les Byrne’s men will play Swalec League Division Two North runners-up Powys side Cobra (Caereinion Old Boys Rugby Association) on Saturday after finishing second-from-bottom of Division One.

The winner of the game at Wrexham RFC will take a place in Division One.

But Mold have more than half their first team squad missing thanks to the rearrangement of the play-off date.

The game was originally supposed to be played on April 28 but when Llandudno pushed back the date of the rearranged final league game, it extended the season into Mold’s end-of-season tour and it was too late to change the plans.

“It’s going to be a difficult game but that’s rugby and we’ve got to live with it,” said Mold head coach Byrne.

“It brings us to the end of a disappointing season where we have had to build a new team and a new way of playing but the real disappointment is that we had seemingly found the right balance and rhythm, then it’s almost back to the drawing board.

“Having played Cobra earlier in the season, we know what to expect.

“The key thing for me is that the team bounce back. It isn’t a done deal for Cobra.

“Yes, they were second in their table and they’ll be pretty fired up, but much of our current confidence stems from our stingy defence.

“We also love to attack and don’t try to hide that. Cobra have a good pack and love to run the ball and they've got a few good skilled players right so can be definitely hard to stop but stop them we will.

“This week is a week to keep our heads and there is still everything is to play for, so it isn’t over ’til the fat coach sings!”

But Mold will not go into the play-off with momentum. Having enjoyed a handful of good results over the last month, last week a severely weakened side was beaten 21-15 at home by Llandudno.

Mold lost their balance and shape from previous weeks in a disjointed, messy performance that gifted Llandudno tries through unforced errors.

An early penalty gave the hosts the worst possible start. Mold soon had a chance to equalise a but the kick went wide.

Mold were able to pressurise Llandudno and soon replacement kicker Luke Jones drew the hosts level.

A good passage of play saw youngster Ollie Hughes send Richard Hopkins down the wing but a wayward pass to Jamie Winning ended a certain try-scoring run. And they soon found themselves back up field, as a drop kick put Mold 6-3 down.

Three passages of play later and despite Gareth Millington’s best efforts with a crunching tackle, Mold found themselves defending and failing to clear. Another successful kick and Mold went into half time trailing 9-3.

After the break Llandudno began racking up yellow cards and Mold attempted to take advantage, a jinking run from Richard Hopkins setting Winning away, only to be stopped by a last-ditch tackle.

Mold camped out on Llandudno’s line and hooker Alex Green powered through to score Mold’s first try close to the posts. Jones slotted the conversion to provide Mold a slender 10-9 lead.

Disaster then struck as Llandudno were gifted a try to put them back in the lead at 14-10. Mold were aggrieved that there was seemingly a big forward pass in the build-up but they didn’t worry about it for long as Hopkins and Winning teamed up to send Jones over to restore Mold lead at 15-14.

Mold then missed a penalty before an overambitious long pass was intercepted by Llandudno who ran the ball home to secure the victory.