1XV v Usk (Away) 26 Dec 2013

20-10 Win

Derby Win For Monmouth

A welcome break between storms brought dry if rather cold conditions for the large Boxing Day crowd at Usk for the annual ‘friendly’ and surprisingly firm footing for the players.

Monmouth were first to score after only 6 minutes having steadily worked their way up the field through their more solid pack gaining a push over try which Ricketts failed to convert out of one of the few sticky patches at the Bridge end of the field.

Usk, whose backs seemed to display the greater adventure throughout the first half as Monmouth targeted the channels around the set pieces, retaliated well, helped by Monmouth squandering their slight advantage with a penalty for playing the ball whilst off their feet and then questioning the referee’s judgment. With ten extra yards for the dissent the gap was reduced to 3-5 with the resultant kick already mid-field now made easier.

With both teams warned about handling in the rucks, play continued to be strongly contested but with few clear chances other than one following a speedy break by scrum-half Ludo Thomas bringing an attacking line-out and then maul which Monmouth spread wide along their backs to the left, but with an overlap and a try begging somehow the final pass went forward.

Usk similarly had a good couple of breaks through their right wing, only for the Monmouth defence to successfully cover across to snuff out the danger.

Ricketts on another occasion was up in pursuit of a probing kick but the ball when hacked on just went dead. An exchange of missed kicks at goal saw the teams change over at 3-5 with all to play for.

The second half brought several substitutions and significantly loose head Stockley won a penalty at his very first scrum from the pressure he brings to bear on his opponents. Monmouth’s wings were now looking more threatening as the ball was moved wider and Sam Skipp, too, would have been away but for a pass in his eagerness just behind him.

The home crowd was becoming quite animated at this stage but a penalty kick by Ricketts seemingly for dissent soon silenced them as he stretched the lead to 3-8 just 13 minutes into the half.

And then a further breakthrough for the visitors as wing Gareth Morgan intercepted and ran 40 yards to score followed quickly by a move which brought Skipp into play allowing him to stretch his long legs along the left touchline breaking through the final attempted tackle to help Monmouth and Ricketts to a 3-20 lead.

Usk were not to be outdone though and they son outflanked Monmouth on the left to draw back to 10-20 with Stockley joining in the fun, first making ground and then chasing his kick ahead and seeing Usk penalised for not retreating.

The home team tried their hardest to gain some consolation in the last ten minutes but the Monmouth defences held out. Vigour, fast hands and good support from under the Clubhouse were not enough to counteract Monmouth’s line-out and scrum superiority which were to prove the more reliable base from which to attack.

Old Illtydians away in Cardiff will prove a sterner test and with only two days of recovery time. Roll on the league.

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