1XV v Usk (home) 26 Dec 2014

9-13 Loss

Fair Usk Win in Foul Cconditions.

After losing 7-13 at home to Monmouth Druids on Boxing Day morning, a large contingent of Usk supporters came to Monmouth Sports Ground seeking revenge in the annual afternoon derby.

And they were not to be disappointed because for the first time in many years, they turned the tables on Monmouth with a wiser tactical approach for a deserved 9-13 win.

In the most foul of conditions, with snow threatened to follow the freezing rain and gusting south-west wind, Usk were first to play with the elements and very soon had Monmouth pinned in their own half.
Mistakes abounded as people slithered around and numbed hands failed to take passes and the referee needed to be forgiven for occasional mishaps on his part because the playing strips were so similar once decorated with mud. But far greater use of kicking would have enabled sides to play on others mistakes rather than fall foul of their own, and there was none more guilty of this than the home team when in the second half they attempted to run the ball from deep positions when a kick to the corners could have been so much more productive.

Penalties abounded as players struggled to keep their footing at the breakdown with many normally kickable ones led astray by a wind with ideas of its own. But Usk scored their first following a high relieving kick out of defence which too eager forwards failed to retire from. With the wind the 28 metre kick sailed through the posts.
A similar transgression by Usk just two minutes later saw centre Roberts equal the score at 3-3 only for Usk to pull ahead with one of their own a matter of minutes later. A further exchange of penalty misses as play went to and fro were the only significant events as players tried their best to make the most of the conditions.

Certain individuals in each pack made stirring runs but attempts at orchestrated moves invariably foundered as the passes were floated in uneven trajectories or people’s numb hands let them down despite their best endeavours. Territory was the thing though and Usk largely kept the pressure on with long kicks down-field.

By half-time the see-sawing of penalties had given Usk a 6-9 lead.
With the change of direction the tactics for Monmouth now seemed clear in that they, too, should use the wind to build territorial pressure of their own. And one such kick ahead almost immediately worked as it gained 70metres and had the Usk full back under pressure but fortunately for him the ball just crossed the goal-line and he was able to safely dab it down as the cavalry arrived.

Despite this early promise, it was not to be. Even when defending in their own 22 individuals seemed to be obsessed with trying to run the ball back at the opposition rather than kick deep into the wide open spaces although in fairness occasionally individual bursts made metres before being downed by the opposition, the best examples of which were by back rowers, Phillips and Griffiths and also a particularly good one by second row Sparey which sadly resulted in him having to leave the field injured.

Roberts evened the scores near the end of the third quarter but this was more than cancelled out when the ball was fed to a front row forward on his own 22 who took the ball into contact and when the ball was spilled, Usk ran back at pace through a missed tackle for their full back to come up in support and score what was to prove to be the only try of the game and a converted one at that.

Monmouth did not give up and eventually found themselves virtually camped on the Usk line for repeated scrums that were effectively spoiled by the visitors. Both Lane and Green nearly scored and Usk escaped penalty for their ability at disrupting what might have led to a penalty try.

Frustration grew sufficiently for a Monmouth back to unwisely try to advise the referee how he might perform his task better resulting in a reduction to 14 men and probably the last chance to maintain pressure on Usk.

All continued to give of their all but Usk were now not going to concede their winning position. Bragging rights therefore are now with Usk therefore for the first 12 month period in a while.

This coming Saturday (3rd) sees both senior sides at home against Cwmbran and Gwernyfed respectively. Perhaps the New Year will bring better fortune?

Pen: A.Roberts (3)

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