Caldicot are always difficult to beat on their home ground and the early stages of last Saturday’s league game pointed in that direction again.
After only six minutes of play following a line-out Monmouth were first to concede the easiest of tries under the posts with an unimpeded run of over 40 metres. Adam Roberts saved a further two points by, almost unheard of these days, charging down what should have been an easy conversion.
Gradually finding their feet, Monmouth were soon thrusting their way towards the opponents’ goal-line with fine inter-passing and with wing Williams particularly adept at avoiding the touch-line as Caldicot tried to force him out of play.
Playing for position with long kicks dominated play for a while until a penalty for playing the ball whilst off their feet brought three points in return for Monmouth courtesy of Roberts’ boot and the right hand post.
Almost immediately Caldicot’s kicker was able to display his prowess, admittedly with the aid of a strong breeze when he converted a penalty from 47m out and mid-field.
Monmouth rallied several times but the ferocity of their passing along their backs caused more mis-handling than incisive breaks with the home team capitalising on Monmouth failing to release following a tackle with a successful penalty from 48m out on this occasion.
At 11-3 things were starting to look bad but when full back Tabb was impeded as he followed up his kick out of defence, the award of a yellow card against the player who did so, spurred Monmouth on.
Stand in fly half Chris Reed put their hosts under pressure with a long cross kick deep into the left corner but Caldicot were able to scramble their way out of trouble and back up-field.
But just before Caldicot’s were restored to full strength, hooker Bartlett made a deep mid-field break but white line fever overtook him as people cried out in support on his right. Fortunately the visiting forwards were up in numbers at a succession of rucks and No 8 Griffiths, playing his heart out as usual in a storming back five, drove over for a try to narrow the gap at half-time to 13-8.
The wind that should have aided Monmouth in the second half now shifted from diagonally to across the field but their eagerness after the re-start brought a charged down kick out of defence with Williams on hand to help take the lead to 11-13.
Caldicot were struggling now and when they held on after a tackle, Tabb neatly gained a further three points from far out. Caldicot won a scrum against the head but when they tried to move the ball defensive pressure caused them to knock on. The ball was hacked through for 40 metres causing the home team to take the ball over their line for safety; - comfort that was short-lived though as Griffiths scored his second try which Tabb converted excellently from near the right touch-line.
This fifteen points comeback inside ten minutes taking the lead to 11-23 would have seen a lesser side doubt themselves but Caldicot rallied within minutes and assisted by less than strong mid-field tackles they closed the gap first to 18-23 with the help of an excellent touch-line conversion and when they won a line near the Monmouth goal-line they drove over it to tie the scores.
With their enthusiasm buoyed, Caldicot were now moving the ball at will along their backs first left and then right and back again to bamboozle the visitors’ defence. Individuals continued to sh1ne bravely in defence but a degree of disarray had crept in, not helped by Griffiths having been yellow-carded for taking an earlier grievance into his own hand.
A further try on the left followed a kick to the corner after the ball was handled in not a little desperation at a ruck. – The second week running for Monmouth to be overtaken late in the game.
Young Dan White seemed to have spectacularly saved a try in the corner as the game neared its close but to no avail as Caldicot concluded their 33-23 bonus point winning ways but Monmouth had acquitted themselves well given the disruption to this week’s selection.
Roll on Saturday (21st) after an International pause when Rhymney visit the Sports Ground, k.o. 2.30p.m.
Tries: M.Griffiths (2)
Conv: A.Tabb (2)
Pen: A.Tabb (2)