1XV v Croesyceiliog (away) 01 Sep 2018

18-11 Win

Promising Start To The Season For Monmouth

In front of a bigger crowd than Monmouth is used to, the visitors withstood a strong start by a Croesyceiliog pack which seemed bigger and stronger than theirs, but resist with determination they did with strong tackling and good line speed.

Once they had settled, Monmouth’s strength in the scrums began to rattle their hosts and on ten minutes they had nearly scored a pushover try. Maintaining the pressure, fly half Emmanueli put through an exquisite grubber kick from 20 metres out behind the approaching defenders to score under the posts which also made for an easy conversion by him.

Both sides were kicking long and deep and the resulting pacey counter-attacks tested the tackling of them both although the Monmouth back row were the most clinical in negating the rucking of the opposition.

One area where they were a little outdone at times was in the lines-out despite Williams often climbing high. Following a stunning penalty kick into the left corner, Monmouth’s inability to foresee a peel from the line brought an easy, but unconverted try for Croesyceiliog in the 34th minute.

With the score now being at 5-7 with little time before the break, both sides hammered away at each other and a Monmouth hi-tackle in defending a strong run down the middle cost them a penalty as Croesyceiliog took the lead 8-7.

The kick off was returned with a bonus but the visiting full back had covered well and surprised the opposition by starting up a brave counter-attack, breaking the line to feed centre Paley who, in turn, fed Nove on his right. He injected even more pace into the move, outflanked those trying to cut him off to give Emmanuelli a relatively easy kick at goal and a score at the break of 8-14.

The packs had now evened each other out apart that is for Monmouth’s dominance in the set piece. The great width of the Woodlands pitch was also playing into the hands of the Monmouth three-quarters, ensuring great anticipation for the crowd of the second half to come.

But this hadn’t allowed for the ferocity of Croesyceiliog upon the restart. The referee almost lost control in his desire to avoid hard choices, even at one stage telling all listening that taking people down by their shoulders was ‘not high’.

2nd Row Seran sadly had to leave the field after a head injury and captain Zen was substituted but their replacements brought different and strong attributes to the party. Croesyceiliog were becoming less well disciplined, losing one player to a yellow card which allowed things to settle down again.

Both wings were readily available to challenge on the flanks and scrum-half White was his usual mercurial self throughout and fortunately bounces like a rubber ball when marked heavily.

Both sides kicked well and long to gain ground and Hawkins (Tom) and flanker Thau were both highly disruptive at close quarters.

Despite the speed with which the game was played, fitness levels held up quite well, although the increasing number of penalties for holding on and not releasing were perhaps an indication of the tension, (and tiredness?), felt by some players on both sides.

At last Monmouth looked for points on the board through kicks, which, with hindsight, they might have tried sooner, and a penalty took them to 8-17 and two scores ahead with five minutes of normal time left which seemed to have closed out the game. But Croesyceiliog were not to be outdone. They kicked for goal but missed and in injury time were allowed another attempt following a further Monmouth transgression, and this time secured the losing bonus point they had been trying to secure.

All in all, a very encouraging start to the season for Monmouth at this higher standard to which they have risen. Abertillery/Blaenau Gwent provide the next challenge at the Sports Ground at 2.30p.m. next Saturday.

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