1XV v Oakdale (Home) 30 Mar 2013

31-29 Win

Stunning Win for Monmouth

With two-thirds of their 1st XV away on a stag weekend, Monmouth would not have been surprised if they were the only Club members enjoying the Easter weekend, given a league game against high-flying Oakdale to face in their absence.

But wide smiles were soon apparent at the Sports Ground when Monmouth scored within 32 seconds of the kick-off, and then through a combination of spasmodic inspiration and dogged defence they held on to beat their visitors 31-29 and with a bonus point for scoring four tries to boot!

Oakdale had declined to allow a postponement given the absence of everyone of Monmouth’s regular backs and a few key forwards, must have been anticipating a high scoring game in their favour, but they had not allowed for the great enthusiasm and talent residing in the 2nd XV, joined for the occasion by two past 1st XV players home on holiday.

An error fielding the kick off, saw a quick follow up and hack through and the first score by flanker Ed McCord. Full back Matt Tabb slotted the conversion almost effortlessly.

A mere four minutes later as Monmouth’s backs attacked with gay abandon, Tabb it was this time who scorched to the line for a try he was to convert himself adding to Oakdale’s temporary disarray.

They gradually regained their composure and narrowed the gap a little with a penalty for entering a ruck from the side, but after missing a penalty in reply Tabb added another for a tackler not releasing his man.

Oakdale were now rising to the challenge they had not expected, running a penalty along the line to the left exploiting an overlap to score near the corner but too far out for a successful conversion.

Monmouth fortunately had their usual strong front five reinforced on this occasion by veteran die-hard Andy Howells and the pressure went back onto Oakdale with repeated scrums near their goal-line. One more occasion of their front row rearing up would surely have brought a deserved penalty try, but there was no need, as the burly Druids No 8 Nick Phillips forced his way over from the back of a scrum. With Tabb truly on form the score grew to 24-8 at the break.

Obviously Oakdale needed to start the second half with vigour and this they did as a Monmouth player was penalised for not releasing in the tackle and from the resulting cross kicked penalty their left wing went over unopposed for a try that was converted.

One might have expected Monmouth to play defensively, but the next score came from a quite scintillating run with wing Sam Skipp and centre Jake Meredith combining, finished off by McCord who was predictably up in support. Predictable, too, was the conversion by Tabb making the score 31-15.

From the kick off captain Will Copley made good ground only to be clattered for his trouble, but his offload was taken on with good inter-passing by his fellow forwards who obviously feared for nothing.

The visitors were trying really hard now and from a charged down kick and a succession of winning rucks they drove over to narrow the score to 31-22 and still with 16 minutes left for Monmouth to survive.

Defences were strong but with 5 minutes left, Oakdale forced their way over on the right after a series of rucks and with the addition of the kick were now only two points behind. For an infringement behind the line, the game was re-started with a penalty kick from halfway which fell short and it was fitting that after a very hectic defensive spell that Monmouth were near their opposing 22m line when ever the wise head prop Paul Stockley kicked a loose ball dead to end the game.

But the excitement did not end there. Despite gaining a losing bonus point which might have smoothed ruffled Oakdale feathers, harsh words aimed at the referee earned their 2nd row a red card despite his having a near faultless game in charge.

But a bigger challenge awaits the Monmouth selectors on Thursday who now have proven evidence of the talent available to them for their next game at home next Saturday against Cilfynydd.

Tries: E.McCord (2), M.Tabb, N.Phillips
Conv: M.Tabb (4)
Pen: M.Tabb

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