1XV v Usk (home) 26 Dec 2016

27-7 Win

Sweet Revenge for Monmouth

With the still raw memories of last year's drubbing at Usk and with The Druids having lost 11-10 this last Boxing Day morning, Monmouth's 1st XV needed little encouragement before a record crowd of around 1000. And as is there current style they set about their task with vigour beneath clear blue skies, sensibly playing with the bright sun behind their backs before it could become a possible hindrance in the second half.

Usk were forced to defend hard from the start but a 'neck roll' set them back three points with a Parsons' penalty score after just two minutes.

Already eventful, Usk responded with several rucks near the line but the home defence held firm although these attacks cost them dear with captain Tom Rees being adjudged to have handled in the ruck after he had stopped an attacker in his tracks right on the line. The Yellow Card however seemed a spur rather than a handicap, with Monmouth maintaining an ascendancy in the scrum seven when one man short, and fairly reliably winning their own throw-Ins to lines-out.

Usk tried hard through their backs to gain advantage with their greater numbers but the Monmouth defence held firm even though one or two tackles were last ditch efforts. They were aided though by Usk's 'white line fever' which on one occasion saw them spurn a five man overlap for a more direct approach which failed.

After missing another opportunity through a truck and trailer maul offence, Monmouth missed along range penalty but soon followed by another success from a more decent distance. At 6-0 Usk were looking concerned and fly-half Emanuelli kept up the pressure with long kicks to the corners. Usk's hooker, not for the last time relieved the pressure upon them with a 40m breakout and their right wing also broke up the right only to knock on in the tackle.

A late tackle saw them also reduced to 14 men as a result of a late tackle upon which Monmouth capitalised first through a No.8 Hawkins drive and then with a recycled ball at a ruck scrum half White wriggled his way over near the posts for an easily converted try and a 13-0 lead at half-time. Usk predictably came at Monmouth following the re-start but chose to kick a penalty mto touch in the corner when going for goal seemed simpler. But from the ensuing line-out they managed to force their way over in the extreme left hand corner and their kicker made a stunning conversion from the extreme sideline.

Usk's gander was now up and with their supporters cheering their every break as well as every Monmouth error, the boot was on the other foot and at times being quite literally and liberally used. An injury stoppage for a few minutes, however, helped Monmouth regain their composure and led stirringly by captain Tom Rees, who had an excellent game, brought a series of rucks on the line and White was again on hand to zip through a gap to stretch the lead to sixteen points as the end of the third quarter approached.

This stirred the visitors further and led to a string of enthusiastic attacks matched only by Monmouth's dogged defence and then marred by the loss of another player to the bin for a high tackle. But this brought further inspiration as the seven man pack pushed Usk back again. Usk were cracking now with a mis-kick out of defence and then a penalty reversal for dissent with ten minutes to play, but gripping incidents continued when with minutes left to play a strong tackle without arms brought a further dismissal this time with a straight 'red'. Usk seized their chance but overeagerness on their part saw a 5 on 3 overlap succumb to a knock-on in mid-field and when, back on their own line, full-back Parsons was on hand to charge down a hurried clearance kick to take the score to 27-7, the game was all but over.

One more attack seeking a consolation score looked promising with an overlap begging on the right, but a wrong change of direction in the centre followed by a knock-on brought unbounded joy for the Monmothians present.

A cracking derby as usual and now time for some revelry before RTB Ebbw Vale away next Saturday (7th) as a build up to the next Bowl fixture away at Amman Utd. on 14 January.

Tries: D.White (2), S.Parsons
Conv: S.Parsons (3)
Pen: S.Parsons (2)

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