1XV v Fleur De Lys (home) 11 Mar 2017
Missed opportunities cost Monmouth dear when with a last minute attack Fleur de Lys stole the honours.
After dominating the early stages, Monmouth were first on the board with a penalty but 'Flower' having lost their home fixture in mid November and missed a penalty chance of their own were much more determined than previously, gaining the lead following a centre break and a kick ahead to score in the top right corner. The kicker converted well from near the touch-line.Warnings galore were being issued for high tackles along with a plethora of penalties but one was little consolation nor brought clarity for the spectators who failed to see why no card was awarded when Monmouth were so near to scoring.
A scrum near the line soon after also proved little consolation as a score was squandered with aback row player going for glory on his own rather than the simple pass to a supporting team-mate.An attack on the visitors' right was next frustrated by a whistled recall for a penalty when a score was almost certain. A further warning to an offender was scant reward but at least White was able to kick Monmouth back into reach of the lead at 6-7.
Full back Nuove, relishing the drier grounds, was making repeated scything runs deep into opposing territory but the final passes were going astray until the ball was spun left and wing Smith was able round the defence for a score almost under the sticks to make what should have been a half time score of 13-7. 'Flower' had other ideas though and after gaining a penalty at a ruck their kicker stepped up to convert it from some 45 metres, narrowing the gap to 13-10.
Monmouth commenced the second half with vigour, with No 8 Hawkins making a trade mark pickup and charge but despite Gleed's support subsequent laboured passing through the backs saw an overlap on the left wasted.
At long last the referee found a yellow card for an offence by the visitors in 'the red zone'. Monmouth chose a scrum by way of penalty and having driven the now lighter pack, Hawkins picked up at the base and forced his way over for an unconverted try. The missed conversion was one to be regretted later.
The visitors restarted with a deep kick and follow up and from the tackled player choosing to hold on they again narrowed the score to 18-13.
Nuove responded with a fine long run saved only by a desperate tackle from the rear and although substitute prop Green deserves credit for being up in support, the same cannot be said for his handling as a knock-on prevented an almost certain score. He obviously had yet to match the finesse of the loose head he had earlier replaced.
A scrum was again chosen as a penalty for visitor dissent when a kick may have been more profitable and when play was again returned to the home 22 with a long kick down field, an unforced long pass across field (presumably what they see done on TV - and not always successfully there either) resulted in play crabbing across the pitch and a high tackle by Monmouth bringing a further narrowing of the score to 18-16.
Not outdone, Monmouth responded with a good move which brought a deliberate knock on and another warning for the visitors' defender but three more points for Monmouth and with little more than 5 minutes left, a narrow 21-16 lead.
Nuove again led them back up field and although he was forced into touch, when play was called back for an offside penalty again the choice was to kick to touch instead of going for goal. The resultant drive from the line-out was making ground and backs joined in the shove but fatally Fleur de Lys won a turnover and used their overlap of three players and the gaping gap left on their right to run the full length of the field to score and take the lead 21-23.
With only minutes left Monmouth again took play back to their opponents winning a straight 35mpenalty but the kick failed leaving the home team to ponder on chances missed. Gaining a losing bonus point can have been little consolation with so many opportunities having been created and yet wasted.
The next fixture is home against Hartridge on 25 March as there are Internationals clashing next week but it provides perhaps a welcome break to reflect and prepare for what will undoubtedly be a very tough game.
Published by Pete Walters, last edited Mon, 13/03/2017 - 6:14pm.