1XV v Newport HSOB (away) 21 Nov 2015

7-8 Loss

Post Width The Decider

After torrential rain, stormy winds had ensured the Newport HSOB pitch was reasonably firm but the grass was long enough to trip many a ball carrier.

Now with little wind and a very bright sky the air temperature left spectators chilled to the bone and gave players every reason to seek the warmth of close quarter confrontation rather than the open spaces of which there were plenty throughout the game. A dour, if tedious, battle ensued and explained why the three-quarters were so little used by both teams in last Saturday’s game. A match that saw Newport HSOB score first with an unconverted try early in the second half, but were soon overtaken for Monmouth to lead for much of the rest of the game only to lose in the end when the width of the post allowed a penalty kick to bounce back in for the crucial score that won the game by just a single point.

A stalemate first half had much movement but little sparkle.Deep kicks up and down the field led to direct but unimaginative counters, with the game descending into lines out, scrums galore and above all else driving mauls by both sides but with the greater organisation being shown in the latter by the more vigorous home team. What hope there was of a flowing game was punctuated by refereeing decisions which albeit correct in most cases seemed to have little sympathy for the players, or their spectators.

Rhys Ricketts, recently returned to playing for Monmouth was a welcome addition but in his eagerness to gather a high ball deep into the Monmouth corner was so focussed that he crashed into another trying to do the same. When did 'calling for the ball' go out of fashion? Sadly he was injured and had to be replaced.

The hosts had by that time at least managed to drive over the line from a line-out occasioned by a penalty but fortunately had to be called back for a knock-on earlier in the move. Stronger in the maul they were but Monmouth looked the fitter and faster in their backs and most destructive defensively but overall they seemed too pre-occupied with keeping their focus narrow rather than spreading the ball wide. And so it was to continue with an occasional burst in the middle from centre Andrew Davies which raised temperatures but his kicks ahead, although insightful, rarely achieved convincing momentum for lack of support.

The half time whistle gave everyone a breather but it was the Newport forwards who benefited most.

In the first eight minutes of the half they contrived to miss a kick at goal from 30 metres, dropped the ball over the line following a drive from a line-out on the left but then gathered their resources and were unstoppable in yet another driving maul. The grass again defeated the kicker.a

Five points in arrears stirred Monmouth and kicks along the left touch-line from penalties gained them the ground they needed.

Once camped 18 metres out, they won the line-out and then a five metres scrum following a ruck. Defending illegally Newport conceded a penalty which scrum-half White took quickly but was held up on the line. The ball was recycled and now the bigger boys had a go, in this case substitute 2nd Row Hawkins, and when full back Gordon converted the try, Monmouth had 25 minutes to hold out defending the slim 5-7 lead.

Newport continued to play for the corner and Monmouth once spectacularly stole the ball whilst being driven backwards towards their line. Both sides were now going for it with perhaps Newport leading the way with attacks but Monmouth rose to the challenge with some equally spectacular head on tackles, by Mobbs-Morgan and then Gordon in just one threatening move.

And then with five minutes left a scrum was awarded to Newport as the ruck was collapsing to the ground from which followed the deciding penalty taken at least 8 metres further on than was warranted helping the kicker to add the decisive points.
Monmouth tried to run everything now and when Newport player slapped down a pass along the line to the wing, the award of a scrum for a knock on by him summed the game up. A penalty and yellow card might have seen them still make it to the other end but scrums had not been their strength and it was as well the final whistle closed a veil over event. A losing bonus point was small consolation for it could have been so different.

Monmouth deserve better fortune this coming Saturday at home against Caerphilly.

Tries: T.Hawkins
Conv: K.Gordon

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