1XV v New Tredegar (Home) 20 Apr 2013

30-23 Win

Two More Hard Fought Wins for Monmouth

Monmouth 23 – Caldicot 14
Monmouth 30 – New Tredegar 23

Hard though it has been on the players in the Club, but three games in the space of eight days has commendably brought three wins against good opposition.

Having disposed of Cwmbran in the first of these three encounters as reported in last week’s edition, a mid-week game beckoned against Caldicot with the inevitable difficulties of players getting away from work, tougher usually on the visitors. But they were the ones quicker off the mark and Caldicot were 7 points up through quick support with barely a hand laid upon them.

Monmouth awoke as a result and were soon to be held up over the line and in their next riposte saw a chip kick to the corner bringing scant reward and a drop out from the 22.

That Caldicot were feeling the pressure was made apparent by their giving away a penalty for failing to release a tackled player. Rhys Ricketts gratefully kicked the three points.

Several attacks on the visitors’ line brought yet another penalty this time for not releasing the ball after a tackle which Ricketts failed to convert and then in a repeat situation inside half an hour, he narrowed the gap to 6-7.

Monmouth were fairly dominant for much of the half and following a ruck near the Caldicot line Mike Griffiths and Luke Hunter were prominent in trying to force their way over but ‘held up’ they were, as was the next play from the scrum.

Then scrum half Morgan at his usual sharp self did well when drawing the defence, to put wing Matt King in for a try, which despite the failed conversion put Monmouth in a 11-7 lead at the break.

Maintaining composure and guarding against Caldicot’s threatened break-outs were the key areas for focus. The scrums had been strong but the lines-out needed improvement.

Greater use of the boot was made in the second half resulting in a sort of ‘ping-pong’ between both 22s but Monmouth also had a good spell during which Caldicot were pinned in their own 22 with threats of break-outs effectively nullified.

The Monmouth scrum was still proving an asset and eventually No. 8 Griffiths was able to dab the ball down as they trundled the visiting pack backwards. Ricketts improved the score to add to his personally vigorous play in both defence and attack.

Minutes to go and centre Davies made a solid break which 2nd Row Sam Harding took on to outpace the back-tracking defence for a 23-14 win which part compensated for the loss away before Christmas.

A mere 68 hours later and the challenge this time was New Tredegar who had reasonable ambitions of a promotion slot but Monmouth had other ideas despite the loss of some more senior players through injury.

This time it was Monmouth who got off the mark fastest through a trademark interception try in the early minutes by centre Dewi Lane with Ricketts converting it.

But New Tredegar seemed fairly unfazed by this and set about recovering the position by spreading the ball wide whenever they could.

Eventually the home team succumbed by handling in a ruck and despite a suggestion that New Tredegar’s kicker’s range was inadequate, he bisected the posts from 50 yards out.

Monmouth had chances and Ricketts unusually pulled his next kick at goal wide to the right, but when a defending forward went over the top at a ruck, this time he was spot on target, widening the gap to 10-3 at the end of the first quarter.

New Tredegar responded by trying to move the ball out of defence through the hands but a tackle saw the ball run loose and Ricketts picked up to run through for a good score.

It was now Monmouth’s turn to defend and a stunning tackle by full back Layne set the standard for others to follow but later when failing to release a tackled man, the visitors began to claw their way back through a penalty and then a try of their own on the left which they converted.

Half-time beckoned but another penalty award to Monmouth aided by ten yards for dissent as to the decision eased the pressure and the sides turned around 18-13.

The Coach highlighted the risks apparent in New Tredegar’s comeback but urged his players to match their intensity and enthusiasm. If they then took their chances, all would be well and so it proved with first a fine move down the right finished off in style by wing Matt King although kicks were proving more difficult.

Insufficiently secure tackling in the centre next opened the way for the visitors to cross for a converted try and then Monmouth were spared another by a forward pass decision by the referee which did seem rather harsh, although for the most part he was on the ball and unflappable.

Monmouth’s front five, aided by a marauding back row had more than held their own so it was quite a surprise when a penalty was given against them for not scrimmaging straight which New Tredegar’s kicker was again pleased to use to draw the scores at 23-23 and with more than 20 minutes left.

Both sides gave their all and Monmouth were next to come near when bundled into touch in goal whilst in the act of trying to score.

The pressure was intense with much excitement for the spectators to enjoy and when a clearing kick was charged down Lane was on hand to score his second of the afternoon. Ricketts kicking tally improved too when his attempted conversion went in-off the left upright to take Monmouth into what was to be the final 30-23 score despite there being 13 minutes of normal time remaining.

Defence by both sides was paramount and the game rose to an exciting finale, but Monmouth pressure eventually told when a New Tredegar centred felt the need to invade the side of a maul twice in short succession gaining himself a yellow card for his trouble, and so it ended.

Monmouth had gained their third win in succession and now have the luxury of a whole week’s rest before taking on Ynysddu away next Saturday which should prove as big a challenge as any this season.

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