1XV v Caldicot (home) 20 Sep 2014

3-18 Loss

Monmouth show signs of improvement but still lose.

Both sides looked to give the ball plenty of air in the early stages of last week’s game at the Sports Ground when Caldicot were the visitors. And to Monmouth’s credit they displayed far better tackling, method and determination than the previous week being first on the score-board with a Rhys Ricketts penalty from 45 metres following a collapsed scrum.

Two returning faces in the pack, Griffiths and Ricketts (senior) added life and solidity and Ricketts (the nephew) being his usual vigorous self at fly-half. Caldicot unfortunately were able to negate the early score having already wasted one attack with a mis-timed pass direct to touch, with their scrum-half escaping around the open-side of a scrum and then arcing left outside the reach of the defending right winger.

The game was fairly even at this stage and Monmouth were showing promise as they spread the ball wide but their final pass reached touch, too, rather than the supporting player.

The general play of both sides was lively, spurred by the taking of quick penalties but it was ragged rather than shaped.

No 8 Griffiths was in the thick of things and providing what little go forward impetus Monmouth were achieving and Ricketts boot was long if not always accurate.
With one such penalty kick he made massive ground up the left flank almost putting wing Dewi Lane away in the 25th minute but a line-out on the 22metre line was the eventual consolation.

Caldicot’s open side flanker seemed to be everywhere as time wore on, not unconnected with the Monmouth forwards now looking laggardly due in part to the heat but also one must suspect to the Summer seeming to have been one of plenty for certain individuals!

Near half-time Monmouth forced a line deep in Caldicot territory and set up a driving maul but this last chance went begging and the whistle, blown by Monmouth’s first visiting female referee, brought some rather indecisive to and fro play to an end.

The half-time rest brought a good second-half start from Monmouth with Dan White now on the right wing being unlucky with a run and kick along the line bouncing out of play.

Caldicot quickly regained position and their composure when gifted three further points by a thoughtless Monmouth hand in a ruck near to and in front of the posts.
Monmouth quickly retaliated when Griffiths broke at pace up-field but when caught there was no support in sight and his attempt to link was intercepted instead by a grateful Caldicot defender. Play as a result went the full length of the field but fortunately with Ricketts on hand to save a score.

The pressure remained though as the ref harshly judged a forceful tackle to be illegal but as kicking was not Caldicot’s strength they were spared a further reversal. The battle was stiffening now and then Monmouth’s self-discipline cracked.

An altercation between their captain and a fellow forward over a simple if frustrating error led to widespread bickering and substitution followed by a yellow card for Griffiths at the next ruck which again appeared harsh as he felt he had driven through it from the rear. His audible comments aimed at the referee as a result were however unseemly and it is as well that she appeared not to hear them. If she had, the card might well have been changed for another colour.
One man down and Monmouth were under the cosh. They repulsed a maul three times following a line out but when Caldicot won the resultant ruck one missed tackle by a centre who had defended well besides saw the visitors pick up a decisive 7 further points.

As often is the case 14 men rise to the situation and Dan White made ground down the wing with a penalty resulting. Touch 5 metres out maintained the pressure but the throw-in was poorl allowing the visitors to relieve the pressure.
When restored to parity, sadly Monmouth conceded a further penalty for a back row player not binding fully taking the score to 3-18 but it was as well the numbers were again equal because with ten minutes left Caldicot were now rampaging around the field thwarted only by a potential scorer dropping the ball over the line.
Monmouth rallied with White to the fore again. After being obstructed following up his kick ahead a touch throw-in was intercepted by the Caldicot front jumper who had excelled throughout. But still in with a chance from a further line-out prop Stockley all but scored to end the game but for a mis-handling on his part.

Overall Monmouth were better than last week but fortunately have a Cup Round bye and a friendly at home next week against Tredegar Ironsides which allows for the very necessary further honing of this still rather raw team.

Pen: R.Ricketts

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