1XV v Usk (Away) 17 Dec 2011

26-0 Win

Good League Win Against Usk

A rousing start by Monmouth last Saturday against near neighbours Usk should have brought more than two early penalty scores from fly-half Rhys Ricketts, but for all the early pressure which had Usk staggering, they were unable to capitalize on their considerable territorial and possession advantage.

80% of the time in the Usk half would have brought if hands were warmer, passes went to hand and the penalty count against Monmouth in the first half had been so great.

As Usk legs tired on the sticky pitch towards half-time, Monmouth put some stirring moves together, the one ending in a penalty with no score, and then centre Chris Reed back in town and displaying superb pace and fitness rounded off an excellent play involving many of the visiting team. Ricketts in the poor underfoot conditions failed with the conversion but Monmouth were looking good with a 11 point lead at the change.

Hard Core Forwards!

Usk had threatened occasionally on the counter-attack so what was hoped for was more pick and go plays to build on the strength that Monmouth was providing in spades through their hard core forwards. 2nd Row Will Copley was in the thick of it as usual, and prop and captain Matt Rickett’s tackling of all who came near him was a textbook example to his team. But the power in the scrum was exceptional and still with the fitness to cover out wide or provide supporting runners.

The forwards were enjoying the action if only because it was keeping them warm and predictably the pressure told not long into the half when No 8 Mike Griffiths was able to dab down the ball to seal a push-over score.

Hard Core Forwards!

Both wings were left out in the cold and their occasional involvement understandably led to mistakes more often than progress but Adam Roberts at full-back used every opportunity he could to run the ball back with determination and flair. Usk too had their moments of resurgence and asked questions of the Monmouth defence over a prolonged ten minute spell when scrum-half Ludo Thomas needed a fine covering tackle to prevent a score.

But it was centre Andrew Davies who was to open up the possibility of a bonus point with a trademark interception which this time was also converted and with ten minutes still to go.

Monmouth went for it but despite repeated attacks and moves that involved much interpassing, either handling let them down or straight-forward determined defence by Usk.

The visiting supporters were by now forgetting their cold hands and feet with the excitement of it all but when Monmouth had created a considerable overlap and then used a lobbed pass rather than drawing a man and passing, the opportunity was gone never to reappear before the final whistle.

The 26-0 eventual win was a good one given the conditions with the game being played in good spirit and ably handled by the referee. It will be interesting to see how things go on Boxing Day when there Monmouth again travel to Usk for the annual celebration of Yuletide Rugby (k.o. 2.30p.m.) following the Druids at home at 11a.m.

Tries: C.Reed, M.Griffiths, A.Davies
Conv: Ricketts
Pen: R.Ricketts (3)

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