1XV v Berry Hill (home) 27 Aug 2016

17-17 Draw

A Great Tribute To A 'Top Man'

Last Saturday was the setting for a clash on Chippenham between Monmouth and Berry Hill Squads which was well attended by members, young and old, from both towns in fond tribute to Ian 'Sedge' Seymour, coach and supporter of both sides over the years. Proceeds were earmarked for Velindre Hospital who did their utmost to spare everyone from their losing Ian.

The match was prefaced by a minute's applause and was played with a vigour and competitiveness but without any rancour or violence as if Ian himself was still orchestrating play on the field.

Useful as a trial match with the new season commencing next Saturday with an away fixture against Monmouth's other local rivals, Usk, the game swung both ways largely through kicks deep into the other's half.

The home team was first to score as fly-half White's dummy and pace took him clean through for an early try which he also converted, but the visitors responded almost immediately by taking advantage of a knocked on catch from the re-start. The put in at the scrum went straight through the tunnel and, sharp as ever, former Monmouth star forward, Mike Griffiths was over to score an unconverted try in a flash.

Penalties rather dictated the game's progress, and with everyone wanting to try out their practice moves, they were used to good effect by both sides to gain territory but perhaps more to BerryHill's advantage as their line-out combined with the drive functioned the better. So much so in fact that aided by some extra yards for dissent they were soon to take the lead 7-12 from a drive from a line-out Monmouth was unable to defend.

Monmouth responded by moving right upfield and generating some derisory laughter as former Monmouth full back Layne knocked on whilst attempting to catch a further kick ahead. Monmouth displayed the greater creativity throughout and when spreading the ball wide were causing the visitors real problems, enough to draw equal from a try in the right corner by Ashley Rawthone but what was not clear was why they so often persevered with trying to batter their way through tackles that were unyielding.

Berry Hill had the upper hand in the pack with greater vigour and cohesion such that they were able to take a half-time lead led by Griffiths again who slipped the ball neatly to a colleague for another five point score despite fairly robust tackling by individuals in the home three-quarters who veteran centre (and now coach) Davies served well for a large part of the game.

The second half was to some extent a repeat of the first with much kicking from hand and many penalties for trying to slow down play by means not permissible. Kicks at goal were avoided in keeping with the spirit of the game supported by the referee's determination to keep his yellow cards in his pocket, some of which, perversely, might have aided the attempts to play running rugby particularly as the game neared its end and Monmouth strove to regain the lead.

Monmouth in their eagerness to do so eventually cracked and took a kick at goal to try to draw nearer but it failed and it is to their credit that they maintained the pressure in the Berry Hill 22 area long enough for White to take his chance again, looping around his wing to bring the scores even at 17-17. Sadly as a reserve kicker he failed with the conversion and for the remainder of the game all the pressure was from the visitors at the other end of the field as they tried to make their forward domination count. The final minutes were tense as Monmouth defended hard but almost as Berry Hill clinched the winner following repeated scrums, they spilled the ball and Monmouth were able again with the aid of some dissent to clear their lines.

A draw was a fair result and particularly so on such an occasion. The Clubhouse was the next venue where thirsts were quenched and reminiscences continued. A wonderful tribute to the memory of 'Sedge' and an excellent tester for both sides before the serious work of another season of rugby begins.

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