1XV v Old Illtydians (Home) 19 Apr 2014

29-3 Win

A Good Win For Monmouth

Monmouth rugby has been known to start the season well and tail off before the season’s end as others gain fitness, but perhaps the opposite is to be true this year.

After numerous close calls throughout the season culminating in all but a win last week against Caldicot, this week brought a comprehensive 29-3 victory over Old Illtydians who had been flying high in both the Swalec League and Bowl competitions.

The Old Boys team set off using the excellent boot of their fly-half to gain position with long touch-finders but Monmouth were soon up in their faces as home fly-half Ricketts showed his game was back near to its best with good ball distribution and setting the scene with a deft kick for his fellow backs to chase. On the first such occasion speedy left wing Jake Meredith just failed to complete a score.

Centre Davies next made a good 40 yards along on the right and then Ricketts did likewise on the left with centre Lane evading a tackler to cross for the first try of the game after just eight minutes of play.

Maintaining the pressure with much direct running by all of the Monmouth forwards, and especially the returning Nick Phillips, building on the darting runs of scrum half Dan White, Illtydians attracted a formal warning from the referee for their attempts to slow things down at rucks.

Persistence and patience eventually paid off by going through the phases and separate charges by first hooker Bartlett and then loose-head Green, when Ricketts drew the defence in and with a long pass to his left put full-back substitute Layne in untouched and with an easy kick for Ricketts for a 12-0 lead in the 23rd minute.

Centre Lane was also at his incursive best as well as being highly vocal and was unucky to knock-on whilst following up a kick ahead when he was certain to score otherwise.

This sparked the visitors into action and helped by some high tackling from the Monmouth centres were thwarted from scoring a retaliatory try by conceding a penalty instead.

A final first half rally by Monmouth came to nought when Green having again made good ground was alleged to have failed to release the ball when tackled.

The coaches were pleased from what little we spectators could hear with the noise of the goodly crowd brought out by the weather and supplemented by a touring Dutch team enjoying themselves. All that was needed was to maintain the good rugby on display with the same levels of aggression and sharpness and Monmouth should see the win through.

Illtydians had also been fired up and they made good ground in the early stages but the resolute Monmouth defence kept them out with the visitors’ frustration soon resulting in a yellow card for stamping at a breakdown. A deep relieving kick regained territory downfield and when a further penalty came the home team’s way Ricketts had the 40m. distance but floated the ball across the front of the sticks.

Fifteen minutes in and a rather messy line-out gave jumper Sam Harding a chance to break through and away for a solo 25m try along the right touch-line.

At 19-3 down the visitors body language was now looking poor and if wing Adam Roberts had used the supporting Matt Tabb in his good break another try might well have ensued.

The visitors still had some impressive runners and following an exchange of deep testing kicks they found themselves up in Monmouth’s 22m area. Play was at this stage fast and furious and barring a knock-on, Illtydians could have found themselves on the score-board proper.

Monmouth were defending well as the visitors were twice denied a push-over try when some back-chat to the referee helped relieve this period of sustained pressure.

With energy spent the visitors proved to be there for the picking with five minutes left to play.

First Dewi Lane made a break and with two men calling for the ball out on his right he cut inside a creaking defence to score near the posts. Ricketts rather too casually tried a drop-kicked conversion and missed but the speedier re-start gave Monmouth a chance through the well positioned Sam Harding to gain his second try in the game, this time in the left corner.

This 29-3 win gives Monmouth a lift for their visit to Abertysswg tonight (Wednesday) and depending on that result hopefully a fillip for the Druids to do well in their Ivor Jones Cup Final away on Friday, followed by a home fixture for the 1st XV versus Abercarn on Saturday.

Tries: D.Lane (2), A.Layne, S.Harding (2)
Conv: R.Ricketts (2)

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