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1XV v Blackwood Stars (Away) 05 May 2012
Monmouth Remain On Course To Win League
Monmouth came home triumphant from meeting Blackwood Stars complete with a bonus point for their four tries included in the 17-31 result.
Initially it was the home team which took play to the visitors, but Monmouth have been able to defend well throughout this season and this they necessarily did again in the early stages. Blackwood Stars were the most fired up at first but when Monmouth found their attacking feet it was they who were soon pressurizing the home team with some solid play which gave the opportunity for some sparkling forays by individuals.
Fly half Rhys Ricketts was one who was definitely "up for it" with strong tackling, good use of the wind with his second half kicking and an ability to break the opponents' line despite their fierce defence.
The thirteenth minute of play proved unlucky for Blackwood when Ricketts made such a break and when painfully tackled, found flanker McCord in support for the final 20 yard charge to the line. After first aid, Ricketts stepped up to kick the conversion.
Monmouth kept up the pressure with Ricketts next being held up over the line.
Blackwood rallied but this time were thwarted by a splendid 70 yard clearing kick from full back Matt Tabb and soon after Monmouth turned defence into attack with scrum-half Gareth Morgan making a break following a ruck deep in his own half, chip-kicking ahead when challenged and gathering the ball from a fortuitous bounce to score under the posts making the kick an easy one.
With minutes to go to half-time Blackwood took advantage of two missed tackles as Monmouth relaxed to narrow the score to 5-14 at the break.
Confidence was high enough to believe that exerting even more control through the pack would suffice to ensure a win but plans were dented a little when the kick-off was knocked on and from the resultant turnover Monmouth found themselves only two points ahead at 12-14.
Play resumed and went back to the Blackwood end where at a ruck their full-back suffered an accidental but severe ear laceration which had the unfortunate result that Blackwood changed tactics for the worst.
Monmouth however maintained their discipline in the face of significant provocation and their pack began to dominate proceedings.
Mauls were trundled back and scrums were driven bringing the next pushover converted try for No.8 Mike Griffiths which annoyed Blackwood captain sufficiently within minutes for him to succumb to a yellow card for foul play.
The resultant penalty stretched the score to 12-24 and only a knock on in a fine move prevented another score but when an ungathered high kick ahead led to a Monmouth line-out they drove a maul for around 30 yards before Morgan touched down for another converted try.
Monmouth unfortunately succumbed to a sin-binning of their own as a substitute prop lost his cool with minutes to go and Blackwood took their opportunity to bombard the Monmouth line with a wave of attacks which brought them a consolation try in the final minute of the game.
Two more games remain for Monmouth to play when the right results should bring league success, but Hafodyrynys the current leaders have their points in the bag and teams are known to reinforce their squads with importees at the season end, so discipline, lack of injuries and good support will all be vital away at the rearranged (again) game at Bettws this evening and then at home against Pontllanffraith next Saturday.
Tries: E.McCord, G.Morgan (2), M.Griffiths
Conv: R.Ricketts (4)