1XV v Blackwood Stars (away) 24 Jan 2015

28-0 Win

Monmouth Secure Bonus Point Win

With both sides (and spectators) having spent nearly an hour in the cold awaiting the arrival of the match referee delayed by an M4 major traffic accident, there was much pent up enthusiasm soon on display at Monmouth’s match away against Blackwood Stars last Saturday (24th).

In bright sunlight but with a keen cross-field wind both sides tested out the other with deep kicks into one another’s halves. This changed as Monmouth increasingly counter-attacked from the depths of their 22 spurred by the attacking flair of Tabb, this week playing at full back.

On one such occasion this led to hooker Bartlett, having probably his best game to date, driving play near to the opposing goal-line and from the ensuing rucks play the home defence was stretched right across the field and fly half Howells who also improves with every game squeezed into the corner but too far out for Roberts to add the conversion.

Monmouth kept up the pressure, aided by a rather poor service to the Blackwood fly-half with which he coped remarkably well, and in return for a high tackle made in desperation, centre Roberts was able to increase the score to 0-8 with a penalty near the posts just 17 minutes into the game.

Copley leading the charge from the second row was next on hand to lead the charge through mid-field but never one to give in, he held onto long after the tackle to concede a penalty which the home team failed to benefit from.

The next opportunity which came their way followed a yellow card for No. 8 Griffiths for a ‘tip-tackle’ followed by a driving maul over some 45m with the benefit of the slope, slippery ground and considerable slope to the left hand corner. A penalty brought a drive for the line but when they dropped the ball White cleared the danger for the moment with a lengthy touch kick.

Monmouth continued with good line speed to keep Blackwood on the back foot but strangely when the numbers were restored after the sin-bin period this seemed to raise Stars confidence and they drove Monmouth back towards their line again. But Howells eased the pressure with an excellent long kick to touch and the tiring legs were then eased further with a brief break taken to avoid the advent of dusk.

The early stages of the second half seemed like déjà vu as both sides engaged in a brief ping-ponging fusillade of kicks but Monmouth who now had the benefit of the slope soon began to run the ball back at Blackwood and very early on, from a scrum deep in their half, Griffiths broke from the rear of it and neared their line.

Another scrum awarded for an earlier offside saw Griffiths break right and when tackled, popped the ball to scrum half White who managed to get the ball to Mobbs-Morgan just sufficient for him to dot the ball down as he was tackled through the corner flag for his debut try for the 1st XV. The response of his team mates was a joy to see.

Play now began to break up and as the confidence of the visitors grew the ball was fluently moved along the line both left and right, with the elusive White making the break for Tabb and Griffiths to link and support and for Howells to finally capitalise upon.

Almost from the kick off wing Mobbs-Morgan ran the ball back into play towards the opposite corner and Howells straightened play up to allow the remainder of the team to spread the ball wide and put flanker Rees over in the left corner. Again the kick was too difficult but who cared as this score had earned them a bonus point and some respite.

Blackwood rallied and would have scored but for a final pass forward and Howells again used his pace and ability to swerve to good advantage to once more carve through some, by now, ragged defence for what turned out to be the final score and a 0-28 win which more than made up for the defeat at home at the very start of the season.

Both sides played with abandon as the game faded as darkness drew nearer but enough for the referee to see a rather dramatic forward pass following a further break by Howells.

It will be interesting to see if this fillip will be sufficient to fend off the speedy Caerleon backs who visit this coming Saturday (31st).

Tries: J.Howells (2), K.Mobbs-Morgan, T.Rees, M.Griffiths
Pen: A.Roberts

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