1XV v Oakdale (Away) 28 Sep 2013

17-29 Loss

Disappointment and Some Success at Oakdale

Perversely, despite losing to a burlier and better side at Oakdale seemingly being built up with ‘incomers’ from adjacent clubs, Monmouth again rallied well in the second half but failed to overhaul the first half deficit already suffered.

On a lush surface, Monmouth played up the slope to start hoping to contain the home team enough for their superior fitness to show through when it was their turn to benefit from the topography of the area.

The writing was on the wall within five minutes however when the burlier Oakdale pack stole the ball against the head and two rucks later were on the score-board with a converted try.

Dazed by this the ball went loose from the drop-out with defenders ball watching and then individuals slow in trying to recover their mistakes. In no time at all they were a further three points down to a penalty near the posts but it was already apparent that fly-half Rhys Ricketts was having a stormer, tackling above his weight all over the field.

Monmouth sparked into life as full-back Anthony Layne made 25m out of defence and from the ruck that followed the ball was moved left. A long lofted pass found Dewi Lane on the wing who made ground but when he tried to cut back inside the defence snuffed out the danger.

Price, the home full back, who looked dangerous throughout recovered position for Oakdale down the right wing but from the touch Ricketts kicked high under pressure and the supporting Lane gathered a rebound. Obstruction by one of the opposing prop forwards gave Monmouth an advantage but a promising move fizzled out with a kick to touch which lost the advantage. With the aid of a missed offside as a loose ball was hacked ahead, Oakdale ran the full length of the field to stretch the score to 17-0 and that inside the first quarter of the game.

The Monmouth pack was having a tough time not helped by a referee who was not wise to scrummaging now considered illegal and with which younger players struggled to cope however manfully they tried.

Ricketts recovered the position a little with Monmouth’s first points from a penalty for not releasing scrum half Price after he was tackled from his quick penalty and although this steadied the ship with Monmouth even putting their opponents under pressure in the scrum as the larger of their opponents tired.

The home defence was well organised though and despite nearing the Oakdale line as half-time neared a critical scrum was lost leaving Monmouth much to do albeit now downhill.

But it was the worst of starts possible because the kick off was run straight back by Oakdale’s No.15 to make the task much harder at 24-3. Both sides knuckled down and the competition became riveting as Monmouth battered away at the line but Oakdale defences held out.

Centre Andrew Davies showed some of his old sparkle as he wrong-footed two defenders and ran back a clearing kick following a missed Monmouth penalty which was taken on by Layne for a full 35m only to run out of support.
Monmouth forwards next combined in midfield to put away wing Chris Reed to be thwarted only by an excellent cover tackle into touch.

Visiting tails were now up and quick hands by first Price and then Ricketts to Layne brought Monmouth’s first try, narrowing the gap to 24-10 and Layne was almost on the board again when clean through following a flurry of attacks only to be called back for an earlier infringement.

If this had stuck Monmouth would have moved into losing bonus point contention and who knows with the head of steam built at that stage what might have happened instead.

Oakdale were not to be outdone though and once again Monmouth fell to a sucker punch long distance breakaway on the extreme right to go further behind 29-10.

The substituted forwards by now had brought much greater stability to the set pieces and one wonders whether they should be used to suppress opposing packs from the start with younger players coming on as impact players later in the game?

Monmouth’s play had become more frantic now, with fierce and/or wild passing or simply running out of ideas as Oakdale rushed at them, but then Lane added another long run down the left for Ricketts to convert from far out for a final score of 29-17.

A disappointing result but if and when Monmouth click for the full 80 minutes they should be impressive and a match for most particularly if they can find some more ball carriers than the ever vigorous Griffiths who again played his heart out.

Monmouth visit West Mon on Saturday in the 1st Round of the Swalec Bowl. Their next home game will be the local derby against Chepstow on 12 October.

Tries: A.Layne (2)
Conv: R.Ricketts (2)
Pen: R.Ricketts

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