1XV v Caldicot (Away) 12 Apr 2014

19-20 Loss

Monmouth Pipped At The Post

Having beaten New Tredegar last week, Monmouth hoped to go one better last Saturday away at Caldicot and by half-time they were holding their own with 5 well struck kicks from the back on form Ricketts and a Dewi Lane try to two tries against and that with four of their strongest forwards absent.

Inside the first ten minutes returned player George Shirlaw value at No. 8 was apparent with two significant incursions from the base of the scrum, the second of these bringing 3 points from a high ballooning penalty kick on the spasmodic gusts of wind.

Caldicot have a young team and the pressure exerted by the visiting front row soon caused Caldicot to offend and the dissent shown made the second kick for Monmouth easier.

The 6 point cushion was encouraging Monmouth to spread the ball wide and wing Meredith all but made it in the right corner but knocked on following a final tackle.
Caldicot rallied to return and drive a line-out on their right which Monmouth struggled to contain and conceded a penalty for dragging down the move. A kick to touch set the home pack up for a well executed maul and this time they scored a deserved try. The wind ensured they failed the conversion.

The lively play continued and Caldicot next went clearly off-side trying to recover a charged down chip kick for Ricketts to stretch the lead to 5-9 and this still within the first quarter.

Caldicot responded again through their mauling and when this won them a series of rucks Monmouth’s defence had been dragged to one side of the field to make the next try almost ‘a run-in’. The kick went unconverted despite it being nearer the posts this time.

Centre Andrew Davies was making breaks willy-nilly but the final pass was not going to hand and then following a scrum penalty for a rare almost token ‘not straight’, Monmouth moved the ball quickly left and wing Meredith charged along touch and through despairing tackles to just be ‘held up’ over the line.

Another penalty came Monmouth’s way for handling in the ruck and 10-12 and soon after a near misss for Ricketts from near 50 metres. Monmouth’s tails were up and Shirlaw climbed high at a line-out to set off a backs move which Adams took on with his usual vigour to hand on to the battle-scarred centre Lane who dotted the ball over the line as he was tackled. With Ricketts adding the extra two points Adams was in the hunt again but a speculative pass went to ground and Monmouth had to settle for a 10-19 half-time lead.

The coaches always seeking improvement urged better care of the ball and less speculative offloads whilst being mindful of the wind that would now face them in the second half as well as modifying their body angles to defend mauls which had cost them dearly in the first 40 minutes.

But despite these words of encouragement Monmouth were penalised at the very first ruck which Caldicot kicked to gain a little encouragement and a narrowing of the gap to 13-19.

A quick response by Adams took the ball well up-field but when the ball went loose captain Harding was guilty of an illegal tackle on the clearing kicker for which he earned a yellow card.

End to end play continued and despite being a man down Shirlaw initiated another move involving Davies and Meredith but again the ball was lost inside with the line approaching.

Caldicot in turn were ‘sin-binned’ at last for off-side and they too held out with a man short despite Lane intercepting a move and kicking far up-field only to suffer from lack of support as legs began to tire.

And then an alarm bell began ringing with Monmouth losing a prop to a yellow card for failing to roll away in the tackle. From the resulting touch, a touch of relief as Caldicot threw in crooked. Penalties abounded as Caldicot pushed fora win and then almost innocuously a gap opened up for a home team player to scoot over untouched for a try under the posts. The massed charge at the kick was to no avail and the immediate final whistle gave the win 20-19 to Caldicot with just a losing bonus point to Monmouth for their heart-break after this much improved performance.

Swalec Bowl semi-finalists Old Illtydians visit the Sports Ground this coming Saturday and should help make for a similar stirring game. Can Monmouth go one step higher?

Tries: D.Lane
Conv: R.Ricketts
Pen: R.Ricketts (4)

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