1XV v Newport HSOB (home) 04 Nov 2017

17-8 Win

Monmouth beat previously unbeaten visitors and league leaders Newport High School Old Boys 17-8 to narrow the gap in the table to two points and with a game in hand to boot!

Probably the largest crowd this season were entertained to a highly competitive game played in perfect conditions apart from the very bright sun which challenged Monmouth defenders fielding kicks downfield in the second half.

Heading the table as both teams did, meant that they were evenly matched with interesting and differing strengths and weaknesses which helped explain the to and fro nature of play.

The Monmouth scrum was the stronger whilst the visitors’ line-out was superior, made worse by having to play some stand-ins in their engine room. The imbalance in weight and height showed in some respects but there was no lack of commitment or vigour on the part of anyone.

Newport had periods when their driving mauls achieved both speed and distance but as they tired and eventually lost a man to a red card for violent conduct, the home team showed their mettle in this respect, too.

Discipline was maintained better by Monmouth although the punctilious refereeing ensured standards were set and maintained throughout along with a yellow card each and the final dismissal which sealed the fate of Newport.

Emmanuelli’s intelligent kicking out of hand was superior and although both sides set their opponents back on their heals with penetrative breaks and counter-attacks it was Monmouth who were the most incisive and exciting.

Starting off a little badly, Monmouth learned not to back-chat early on nor offend at the ruck for which they received an early cooling off period and when White encroached around a scrum a penalty set them back 0-3 after only ten minutes. Good drives in scrums however gave cause for encouragement at the same time.

Centre Paley was on song as usual and almost immediately made ground to feed full back Nove who but for a suspect thigh injury would probably made it all the way. Instead he popped up the ball when tackled and the ensuing ruck brought a penalty for fly half Emanuelli to level the score.

Following the restart, all the pressure was on the visitors who were relieved to touch down a challenging deep grubber kick, but in the next play Paley created a position from which he fed his fellow centre, Gellard who scored near the posts making the conversion almost a formality.

Although Monmouth were struggling in the line-out with counter-attackers aplenty, Smith cut left and infield to put his back line away with a score on the cards but his pass was forward.

Newport were feeling the pressure prior to half-time and several good drives from the Monmouth pack left them welcoming the whistle.

The break or maybe their team talk, must have been good because they appeared a new team for a short while. Booming kicks from both outside halves tested each others’ defences but then the visitors put together a series of winning rucks to win a penalty, and from the subsequent line-out they drove and drove again. At first Monmouth’s defences held firm but following another penalty they succumbed to yet another drive from the line-out that followed.

With the conversion failing and around 35 Minutes to play, the game could have gone either way at 10-8 but Monmouth put in some rolling mauls of their own and when, deep in their half Emanuelli put in a long cut-out pass across his back-line, Paley made ground and fed wing Williams who wrong-footed the defence by coming inside to feed the supporting Paley and score a converted try.

The remaining 25 minutes or so were incredibly tense as both sides refused to concede. Scrum-half White despite his size was putting himself about in defence and was prominent in snuffing out a dangerous break by the visitors.

With so much at stake for both sides, tempers began to fray, as both teams gave their all, but it was Monmouth who maintained their cool the most and despite conceding an unecessary penalty for pulling back an attacking player off the ball, a very enlarged five metre line-out and drive was rebuffed on more than once.

Tempers cracked after a violent act by the visiting fly-half led to a mass brawl and his red card although one other substitute could well have joined him if the referee’s peripheral vision had seen what he did, too.

The closing minutes were most tense but Monmouth clung to their nine point winning lead to maintain the good season they are having.

Machen at home next Saturday will also prove a major challenge and could well draw an even bigger crowd (k.o. 2.30p.m.).

Tries: Gellard, Paley
Conv: P.Emanuelli
Pen: P.Emanuelli

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