1XV v Blackwood Stars (away) 07 May 2016

39-45 Loss

Monmouth Near But Still Far Away

The final match of the season was played on one of the nicest days of the year with both sides keen to win as it affected league positions and pride, if not actual promotion or relegation.

Monmouth were aided with their kick off being knocked on at the very start. Hooker Oaten drove deeply into home territory and the quick ball from the ruck saw the ball pass through several pairs of hands for centre Smith to score the first of 12 tries in a game that saw the lead change ownership twice for both sides but sadly saw Monmouth fall a mere 6 points short at the end following an untimely and questionable yellow card award.

Monmouth had started the more determined, nearly scoring for a second time in the third minute but for a wild pass which eluded the wing who was certain to score otherwise. But almost immediately Smith and fly half Parsons increased the lead to 14 points.

The day was bound to be eventful as the referee who was being assessed worked hard to ensure he showed of his knowledge of every possible law in the book. Safety of players is important and on two occasions whilst attacking with promise Monmouth were called back so that a prone player could be attended to, but that is why first aides are allowed access to the field of play as soon as someone goes down. At least the intention was good even if it did the visitors no favours.

Blackwood were set back further when Parsons kicked a good penalty into the diagonally blowing wind but this stirred them at last and a long kick on the wind towards the left corner brought a line-out and maul from which they crashed over in the corner for a well converted try.

Their heads were up now and Monmouth were lucky that a probing kick to the right corner ran dead rather than for the intended line-out.

Blackwood's set-piece strength was beginning to count and Monmouth had to defend hard to prevent a further score against them until, when defending a maul, a player came in on the side with a consequential penalty try the outcome.

Following the kick-off Hawking carried well but those around him had lost some of their earlier sparkle relying instead on Parsons penalty kicking which advanced the cause to 14-20 and his 150th point of this season!

Again the home team used the wind and a long touch to pressure the line and despite the defence initially holding firm another maul saw Blackwood move ahead to 21-17 on the half hour.

The kick-off led to a ruck from which scrum-half White made good ground, almost running out of support but when the ball was recycled, Parsons was on hand to regain the lead exploiting the opportunities that regularly presented themselves for both sides.

Monmouth were on top for the time being and full-back Tabb made an excellent runout ignoring his winger who had cut inside for a scissors pass, he ran out do space and was bundled into touch just before the half-time whistle sounded.

It was clear that Blackwood would not be out-muscled and Tabb and White combined well from the off making elusive and pacey ground. Korb, too, was his usual forceful self but suffered from a safety stoppage as he was set to score a clear try.

Parsons next made a break and when stopped, the ball was recycled for Oaten to barrel his way over for a try which Parsons again converted.

A 21–34 lead boded well so soon in the half but a schoolboy error handling in an offside position gave Blackwood the chance to kick a penalty into the left corner from which they edged their way back with another try from a maul.

Monmouth responded immediately with the ball well spread in a move which Reed rounded off but the conversion of which Parsons sadly pulled for a 26-39 score.

Then came the crunch. Whilst defending their line, Oaten counter-rucked, driving right through from the rear but was yellow-carded for, as the referee apparently said, doing what everyone had been doing all afternoon. The absence of his robustness was sorely missed and Blackwood inevitably capitalised on it scoring three further tries during his enforced absence.

The final minutes were frenetic but they were summed up by a player kicking for touch at the very time the ball needed to be kept in hand. The fact that it went direct to touch from outside Monmouth's 22 gave the advantage back to the home team who soon were celebrating loudly their win. What will next season bring one wonders?

Tries: J.Smith (2), S.Parsons, S.Oaten, C.Reed
Conv: S.Parsons (4)
Pen: S.Parsons (2)

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