The last game of the season prefaced by a late run of wins for Monmouth and a good season and cup run for Old Illtydians looked promising on paper.
In practice play was considerably hampered by an extremely gusting cross-wind and the fact that the team that turned out on the Rumney RFC ground looked more like Cardiff and District than the Old Illtydians who had visited the Sports Ground earlier in the season.
In fairness it was the home team which appeared the most eager with Monmouth more than a little lethargic and unable to master the wind when kicking distances.
The first 20 minutes as a result saw the visitors on the back foot encamped largely in their 22m area and it took an excellent break from fly half Rhys Ricketts and a neatly timed pass to Matt Tabb to his left to make some 50 metres but the move petered out when it reached the right wing and he threw a wild pass to support that was not there. Some encouragement though.
Old Illtydians came back and it was as well centre Andrew Davies was on the ball because a score was on the cards but for his last ditch tackle.
Monmouth were under the cosh again soon after but managed to hold up a potential scorer over the line, The referee saw to it that this was to no avail calling play back to near the posts for a side-entry penalty which the home team took quickly to charge over for a converted try.
The kick-off was struck nice and high for a defender to receive ball and flanker Gray simultaneously. A great hit but Monmouth were the losers as Ollie had to leave the field with a knee injury.
Still struggling to make much ground of their own Monmouth were lucky that the wind was causing Illtydians many handling errors in their host of attacking phases and the terrier-like Ricketts was again everywhere bolstering the defence at his fiery best including a try-saving effort but one which brought temporary relief only as the score advanced to 12-0 on the right.
Monmouth retaliated well with a fine run by centre Dewi Lane which sadly fizzled out as he was tackled and tried unsuccessfully to link with a fellow player just before the half time whistle.
The re-start was fortuitously drop-kicked dead which suggested everyone was equally affected by the poor windy conditions and then disaster. Monmouth lost the scrum against the head, not for the first time, and with a strong swerving run Old Illtydians had progressed to 19-0.
Almost immediately, Monmouth put together a good three-quarters move and a try looked probable until the final pass missed the supporting players and was fired straight into touch.
Luke Hunter substitute at prop and the home team soon found him more than a handful to manage. A driving run had them seemingly on the rocks with Pryce probing on first one side of the ruck and then the other. The pressure being generated resulted in a bout of fisticuffs which reduced the home team to 14 men for ten minutes and this advantage was being exploited in repeated attacks including one rampaging one by captain Sam Harding who unfortunately tried to go round the defence rather than pass inside to a team-mate who was all but in the clear. His game ended there too with a painful elbow injury.
Play continued near Illtydians line for a good 20 minutes but the local defence held firm until Ricketts made a scorching outside break to score half-way to the right corner. With hindsight he should have pinned his ears back and gone for the corner but his cut-back inside whilst resulting in a try brought a wrist injury as two people tackled him in the act of scoring. Tabb could not master the vagaries of the wind with his conversion kick.
19-5 with 15 minutes to go still allowed a chance of recovery by Monmouth but it was the home team which now showed their superior pace and ball handling skills to stretch the lead to 31-5 with two further tries with one converted by the game’s end. It could have been more if Monmouth had not dug in deep as Illtydians battered away at their line.
Another season beckons but without the guidance of Coach Ian Seymour who has now retired after some 14 years involvement with the Club. Fond words were exchanged between players and supporters alike in the middle of the pitch in a very fitting tribute to their very loyal and humble ‘Top Man’.