1XV v Cwmbran (Home) 13 Apr 2013

29-22 Win

Monmouth beat Cwmbran

The promised advent of Spring proved rather confused for last Saturday’s game at home against Cwmbran. The pitch was comfortably yielding at the start but with an attendant risk of mis-handling due to the light rain. By the end, conditions had considerably worsened with an increasingly blustery and cold wind, heavier rain and slipperiness underfoot.

Both sides, a space apart in the league, began in a fast and furious way with play moving from one end to the other.

At the end of one such forays after only five minutes it was Monmouth who from a line-out won a penalty and kicked again to touch. A good take followed by a driving maul saw flanker Ed Wheeler fresh back from a serious hand injury ground the ball for the first score which fly-half Rhys Ricketts unusually made a hash of converting.

Cwmbran sought to come back, using the boot to good effect, but on one such occasion Monmouth ran the ball back at pace and wing Adam Roberts angled his run in-field to split the defence. Centre Dewi Lane up in support took on the move and scored nearer to the posts this time making for an easier kick at goal for Ricketts putting Cwmbran for the moment very much on the back foot.

Within little more than another four minutes (20 in all), a speculative kick ahead appeared to have earned a line-out from where it had been kicked because it went over the dead ball line but the highly observant referee had spotted that the kick had been touched in flight. (Spectators from either side were later claiming that the presence of an advisor had encouraged hypersensitivity on his par on all sorts of matters, but on this occasion he was absolutely on the ball.

From the resultant 5 metre scrum, the Monmouth pack combined to drive the visitors over their own line with No. 8 Mike Griffiths welcoming the chance to dot the ball down. Ricketts slotted the conversion.

The remainder of the first half was very much one of vigorous attacks, turn overs, handling errors, and many thrills and spills with the only points coming from a penalty by Cwmbran resulting in a 19-3 score at half-time.

Cwmbran would now have the benefit of the slope and the elements and Monmouth’s Coach warned his team of the effect of the worsening weather and a visiting team who would be fired up to recover lost ground. Monmouth had played well so far and players should back themselves but not to try anything silly which might help their opponents.

Five minutes in, and Monmouth were under considerable pressure near their line. Following some scrambling defence Monmouth were penalised but Cwmbran missed the kick.

The pressure persisted and after a succession of defending rucks and several penalties and a general warning the inevitable arose. From a penalty try Cwmbran crept up to 19-10 and Monmouth lost their captain to a yellow card even though he insists it was a case of mistaken identity.

But Monmouth were spurred by this, rather than deterred, and a fine move passing through many hands and finally by Andrew Davies who moved the ball on to fellow centre Lane who was unstoppable going over near the posts. As part of his personal tally of 9 points Ricketts again converted.

Scrum-half Gareth Morgan was at his refreshed best when next he made a searing break and chipped ahead. A penalty resulted but from the touch Cwmbran won the ball and cleared the danger.

Minutes of normal time to go and Cwmbran stormed through in the centre with the conversion being taken double quick through a dropped kick and in immediate response Monmouth were thwarted by a high tackle which Ricketts kicked to again widen the gap 12 points at 29-17.

In what must have been by now extra time Cwmbran out-stretched the tiring Monmouth defence by charging down the left wing to make it 29-22 and in a rejoinder Monmouth were soon threatening in their opponents’ 22 but the final whistle went for a questionable knock on and this after a supporting runner in the move had been taken out off the ball.

Eventful indeed, with Cwmbran earning a deserved losing bonus point for their second half determination aided perhaps by some loss of cohesion brought about by the timing and volume of Monmouth substitutions.

The pressure now grows with mid-week games as well as Saturdays, with Caldicot the visitors at home tonight (7p.m. k.o.) and New Tredegar on Saturday.

Tries: E.Wheeler, D.Lane (2), M.Griffiths
Conv: R.Ricketts (3)
Pen: R.Ricketts

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