A successful appeal against disqualification for allegedly fielding an ineligible player brought a late change of opponent for Monmouth at the Sports Ground in the advent of league leading Ynysddu to whom they had narrowly lost earlier in the season.
Both sides set about each other eagerly and it was Monmouth with the first chance to score but the penalty kick missed and soon after full back Connors was all but away when counter-attacking from inside his own half, but for a desperate yet effective ankle tap halting his progress.
Monmouth maintained their ascendancy at this stage kicking their way up-field to relieve pressure from the opposing larger forwards. From one such long distance punt, the visiting full-back was caught in a pincer tackle and when Monmouth turned over the ball, prop Tom Green linked and made yards, putting fly-half White away for a certain score under the sticks but his overhead pass had been delivered forward.
Ynysddu won the scrum and put in a fine relieving kick of their own for a touch on half-way but were soon under pressure when they tip-tackled a Monmouth forward dangerously and were reduced by one man for 10 minutes.
Their pack was nothing if not lively and this drawback spurred them on rather than deterred them, bombarding the Monmouth line with driving mauls, failing at first to cross the line due to a touch of indecision but having now worn down the home pack, when they drove again, this time they were to score near the posts which also made the conversion easy.
Monmouth responded quickly and well when flanker Griffiths made a typically robust 40 metre burst out of defence. Flanker McCord, back from college and looking as lively as ever, completed the action by being up on his shoulder to charge on for a further elusive 30 metres run in. Roberts’ conversion evened the scores at 7-7 on the half-hour.
Ynysddu responded purposefully through their forwards but when they made the line they were called back for a penalty instead of the conversion they thought they had earned. This time their forward driving succeeded and they edged the score up to 7-12 and Monmouth were relieved to keep them out for the remaining 5 minutes of the half.
When the game recommenced there was little of the low winter sun left to aid the Monmouth attack but Roberts was not deterred by the changing light and succeeded with a penalty in the opening minutes.
Alarm bells rang as Ynysddu’s scrum-half found a gap for an arcing run towards the line but the gap had been illegally obtained by pulling back Monmouth’s flanker with a relieving penalty awarded instead.
Both teams had benefited from the rest and Monmouth was soon to respond from a turn-over through a move involving their half-backs and then wing Farr making good ground on the right before a heavy double-tackle halted a promising move.
Ynysddu, spurred on by a highly vocal band of supporters, showed that of two lively packs theirs was the more cohesive and street-wise even their superior ‘edge’ once again brought them a yellow card for taking a man off the ball.
The crowd challenged everything that went ways that did not suit them, to the extent that Monmouth were urged to play the other side of the field by their coaches to limit any unconscious influence they may be gaining when the referee decided he, too, had enough, and demanded the visiting ‘minders’ moved well away from the line and the action.
It was Monmouth to lose a man next to a yellow card for preventing a play of the ball and in an amusing riposte, an Ynysddu player was heard to complain to the referee that he should not have awarded a knock-on ‘because he had been listening to the home crowd’!
Some speedy but infrequent incursions by Monmouth backs throughout made one wonder if that was not a more promising way of taking the game to Ynysddu, but they were the more impressive up front, despite much commitment and endeavour by Monmouth ‘eight’.
10-12 it was to stay, and fairly so, in a now long saga of games that have been very close, but still a loss.
Out of the Cup for another year, the League once again becomes the focus, with an away trip to Chepstow next week and another trip to Monmouth for Ynysddu, but this time maybe the Druids can take the honours?