1XV v Caerleon (home) 31 Jan 2015

6-14 Loss

Monmouth Overtaken

Table leading Caerleon must have wondered what had changed on their visit last Saturday, given the way Monmouth led throughout the first 65 minutes of this return clash and yet having won 67-17 in September.

In beautifully sunny weather, which drew a large and appreciative crowd, but tempered somewhat by a very strong cold cross-field wind, both sides exchanged a salvo of high kicks but it was Monmouth who initially had their visitors contained within their 22m area.

A long kick out of defence was taken on the burst by full back Tabb. He failed to see opportunities to his left but despite running back into traffic created a position from which Andrew Davies resumed the play with vigour but Caerleon defending well frustrate recycling of the ball just short of a score.

The home pack were dominating the scrums at this stage and at rucks Caerleon were already having to resort to spoiling tactics. Handling the ball whilst off their feet cost them a penalty which centre Roberts confidently took to open the scoring 20 minutes into the game.

Caerleon were stirred by this and following a deep relieving kick put together a threatening attack aided by three missed tackles they made good ground into Monmouth’s half whereupon their kicker bravely attempted a penalty of some 45 metres from far out on the right which went close.

Monmouth maintained the pressure upon themselves by kicking direct to touch from the re-start but mis-handling by Caerleon allowed the ball to be hacked through but when it came back into hands with the goal-line begging on the right an ill-judged attempt to beat the tackle and go it alone brought nought.

Continued pressure in the set piece and by Monmouth’s back row and scrum-half White brought another penalty from the boot of Tabb for once again not rolling away from the tackle. The lead was reasonably commanding at 6-0 at half-time but with hindsight there had been opportunities missed which later would be regretted.

Caerleon realising they needed to raise their game now continued to pressurise down-field and it became Monmouth’s turn to concede a penalty at the breakdown in the middle of the field for a not too difficult kick. Just two minutes later with Caerleon having worked their way through ragged defence into the Monmouth right hand corner, the quickly recycled ball flew along their line to their right with an overlap beckoning only for the tall figure of Copley to intercept a high pass and be accused of ‘lazy running’ in an offside position from which Caerleon drew even and Monmouth gained a yellow card.

Monmouth fought manfully and were harshly penalised again when White, who bounces like a ball, was half tackled and punished for not releasing the ball when he would have felt he was initially held.

But the player advantage began to tell as Caerleon now delighted in driving back the Monmouth Seven at one stage even having them penalised for ‘driving up’ with which at least one front row replacements was offended by.

Monmouth were now giving their all but a sin-binning that lasted a full 14 minutes stretched them to their limit and despite the outstanding vigour of the whole back row, eventually the visiting backs, finding it easier now as their opponents became more ragged in defence, ran the ball first left and then right to produce the overlap needed to overtake Monmouth with what was the only try of the match.

If Monmouth had been able to hold the then score of 6-11 would have secured a losing bonus point but another relatively easy penalty brought the final score to 6-14 leaving the home team and their supporters disappointed but relatively proud of their performance which improves weekly now and will need to again for the game away next week against another league leading team – Caldicot.

Pen: M.Tabb (2)

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