1XV v Chepstow (Away) 10 Dec 2011

23-35 Loss

Cup Run Ends

Monmouth came up against the best Chepstow team they have played for years on Saturday and saw their Swalec Bowl hopes disintegrate, losing by 4 tries to 3 or 35-23 overall.

Their chances were not helped by the stirring start made by Chepstow, which saw them race to a 20-3 lead in the first 12 minutes of the game.

Strong running by the home team compounded by missed tackles and at times acres of space out wide had Monmouth questioning themselves in the early stages with only a penalty kick by fly-half Rhys Ricketts to their credit but 28 minutes in centre Andrew Davies charged down a kick and ran hard for his try out on the right. Ricketts relished the opportunity to narrow the score to 20-10.

This lifted the Monmouth side and they next pressurised Chepstow down the leftward slope but lost the line-out gained from a penalty and found themselves 55 yards further back and ultimately on the receiving end of a further penalty.
The forward battle was stirring throughout and it was no surprise to see a player from both sides sent to cool down for 10 minutes but as half-time approached the best Monmouth could achieve was another Ricketts penalty.

Half-time at 23-13 left a literal hill for Monmouth to climb especially as they now had the steep slope of the Chepstow pitch to conquer as well as their marauding mauling forwards backed by their long kicking fly-half.

Monmouth’s scrums had been good, but variety was needed in the lines-out where until now they had given second best. Opportunities existed behind Chepstow’s advancing backs but the kicking into the gaps would have to be precise as their counter-attacking had been a strength in the first half.

But it was Chepstow whose early endeavours again gained the greatest reward with two unanswered tries in the next 10 minutes one of which they converted. In fairness Monmouth probed deeply into the home 22 as they raised the tempo but without the luck they needed.

Scrum half Ludo Thomas in one such foray was thwarted momentarily as he tried a short-side move but a slight bump into the referee halted a promising scoring chance.

A determined Griffiths makes ground

Monmouth’s scrummaging strength was now beginning to tell and on the back foot Chepstow began to struggle. No 8 Mike Griffiths was having another excellent game with his aggression and driving runs off the back of the set-pieces and it was no surprise to his colleagues to see him awarded the Player of the Month accolade for such consistency.

A determined Griffiths makes ground

Chepstow’s mauls had set Monmouth back many a time earlier but now the boot was on the other foot and Thomas rounded off the score as the home team were forced into retreat. Their No 8 had been the original ‘pain in the rear’ with his intrusive play but he now overstepped the mark once too often coming in on the sides of rucks and mauls, and found himself watching the final seven minutes from the touch-line.

Monmouth seized the advantage and left wing Gareth Morgan rounded off an excellent cross field move but inability to convert the last two scores meant that the gap was too large to bridge as Chepstow dug in and played out the last five minutes or so in the Monmouth half.

Sad for the players for a while but they can at least now concentrate on trying to maintain their league leadership challenge which is perhaps the more meaningful prize. Usk, whom they play away next Saturday at 2.30p.m., will be doing their best to thwart them.

Tries: A.Davies, G.Morgan
Conv: R.Ricketts (2)
Pen: R.Ricketts (3)

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