1XV v Chepstow (home) 20 Feb 2016

8-23 Loss

A Tribute to Will

With Will Copley now having passed on to playing the game he loved far away, Saturday was at last the delayed occasion when team mates, club members and friends could at last hold the traditional minute’s silence in his memory prior to last Saturday’s home game against near neighbours, Chepstow.

The weather still intervened to some extent as the wet blustery conditions caused more spectators than usual to desert the home touch-line for the relative shelter of the stand, but paradoxically the greasy underfoot conditions and gusting winds made for numerous set pieces – the very type of game that forwards cherish and none more so than those in the second row ‘powerhouse’. Just what Will, the ‘warrior’, so many times the inhabitant of the Monmouth No.5 shirt, would have relished, what with all the inevitable arm wrestles, pumping of legs and close quarter tackling.

And so the game transpired, with Chepstow playing downhill with the elements in the first half. Monmouth knew they had to defend well and a strong carry up-field by Oaten initially boded well as did the powerful line-kicking of fly-half Parsons.

Monmouth were press the visitors’ goal-line in the first 5 minutes and when Chepstow regained the ball with a turn over at a ruck their clearing kick for touch ballooned up into the air and into the arms of a home player. He caught it well but quicker thinking would have seen him transfer the ball to a supporting colleague with an almost certain try the result, but hesitation brought inevitable tackles by Chepstow to save the day.

A penalty kick offered the chance for Monmouth to take the lead but the wind had other ideas and the incidents continued with almost regular charging down of both clearing and attacking kicks from set-pieces by both sides and with great courage displayed by both sides in falling on loose balls.

Chepstow began to gain some ascendancy and Monmouth fell foul of the referee’s whistle for one of his more particular requirements, that of releasing in the tackle and Chepstow’s full back backed his ability and kicked his first penalty with the aid of the wind from 45 metres.
Being first to score 15 minutes into the game lifted Chepstow and the next 10 minutes brought a comprehensive bombardment which the doughty Monmouth defence weathered, although admittedly with the aid of some lack of precision by Chepstow as well as two pulled penalty kicks at goal.
Monmouth responded with vigour inspired by a stunning tackle by Korb which drove his victim back yards and soon Monmouth were up on the Chepstow line but mis-handling continued to prevent any clear chances. –Until scrum-half Thomas broke from a ruck. Parsons carried on the move and left winger White looped outside on the right to take the lead 5-3.

Chepstow rallied immediately and despite a good tackle by full back Tabb, Chepstow kicked into the corner and son Monmouth, despite questioning the decision, conceded a penalty for being off their feet in a ruck and Chepstow crept ahead for a half-time lead of 5-6.

The elements should have aided Monmouth now but Chepstow set off as they meant to continue, driving Monmouth back again with long grubber kicks along the muddy surface and it worked as Chepstow use their line-out and driving maul prowess to eventually trundle the home team over the line to stretch their lead to 5-11.

Frustration from mistakes began to show and the referee had to challenge some fractious behaviour and now it was Parson’s turn to use the wind for a long penalty goal and a narrowing of the gap to 8-11.

Battle of a legitimate kind continued with no clear advantage to either side until a soft penalty conceded with a side entry into a maul took Chepstow deep into Monmouth territory on their left flank from which they again mounted a series of driving mauls towards the line.

In desperately defending these moves Monmouth lost a man to a yellow card for dragging down the maul which allowed Chepstow to heap on the pressure. Initially scorers were held up and scrums turned with then an inevitable penalty. The re-scrummage allowed play to move right in the corner for an unconverted try and then another but this time excellently converted from far out.

15 points behind at 8-23 in the final 5 remaining minutes was a hill too steep for Monmouth to recover as the weather eased and the by now apparent disparity in fitness levels both conspired to make it harder.

So many hopes on such a big occasion dashed but for the chance to retire to the club-house to swap yarns over some shared beers as Will would have done and then to plot again how it might be different next time.
In fact Caldicot at home will be the very next challenge on Saturday 27th February.

Tries: D.White
Pen: S.Parsons

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