1XV v Blackwood Stars (home) 22 Oct 2016

5-18 Loss

Wasted Trip to Blackwood for Monmouth

A tolerable band of Monmouth supporters made the journey last Saturday with reasonable hopes of a win as Blackwood Stars frequent(ed) even lower reaches of the league than the still developing Monmouth.

But they were to be disappointed not only by their team's inability to manage the basics for much of the game, made even worse by a referee who has yet to understand what 'playing advantage' means: so much so that even one of the home team coaches was heard pleading for the game to be allowed to flow at one stage.

The only real highlight for the visitors was the prominent play of No.8 Phillips throughout who was the undoubted 'man of the match' if indeed there were such an award, added to by some strong running from individual three-quarters, but even that spelled a problem because of its 'solo' nature - a weakness found within the forwards, too. Some strong individual defensive tackles were also noteworthy but one of those even earned a deserved ten minutes on the sidelines for the big hit.

In excellent playing conditions Monmouth kicked off up the slope and were initially unlucky to receive a penalty when advantage might have benefited them more from the use of the overlap in the backs. The kick to touch instead saw the visitors lose the line-out which was the start of an unhealthy pattern compounded by rather poor throwing in.

Play was generally frantic in the early stages but it was the home team that first displayed concerted purpose using the slope into the corners from which they could launch driving mauls. The first successful one of these put them five points up in the right corner inside nine minutes.

Monmouth responded well at the other end, when despite several rucks and unpenalised high tackles in succession, the relative youngster and 2nd Row Lebon capitalised upon some intricate approach play to draw the scores at 5 points apiece.

Whether the screaming of the crowd got to the referee, the next event of significance was a penalty awarded to Blackwood for a high tackle which no-one had actually seen. But it took Blackwood back into the lead which they were never to relinquish.

Disaster upon disaster as Blackwood next won a line-out unchallenged and when the defence stood off to prevent the development of a maul, the catcher took advantage of the hesitation by running in 17 metres untouched for a try.

Monmouth reacted by breaking out and putting Blackwood under pressure but an adjudged pass forward put an end to this foray. Blackwood again used the slope and their forward superiority to press again and from the resulting touch a surprise front peel caught the defence napping and 18-5 it now was.

Wing Dan Williams led a charge out from defending a deep kick and despite this moving on through penalties, fly half Emanuelli missed a relatively easy kick at goal and soon the half-time whistle sounded.

The second half saw Hellard at his charging best but better use of support players will be needed to benefit fully from his attacking skills as several such moves ended with reversals for penalties for holding on or confusion as players got in each other's way.

Crooked put in to the scrum was largely ignored to Monmouth's detriment whilst the referee spent ages as time was running out to re–set scrums but then some advantage swung the visitors' way when rather harshly Blackwood attracted a yellow card for a tackle that looked worse than it seemed.
Monmouth attacked with vigour as a result but individuals held on too long with relieving penalties a result. And then the player imbalance was adjusted and then worsened by a yellow card for a ruck transgression on halfway followed soon by another for a 'no arms' tackle that rattled quite a few bones.

Monmouth for the second week running now chased hard but some good tackling and even more handling errors born of their eagerness to score kept them at bay. The pace of their backs was still too uncoordinated, or passes too hasty, to breach the Blackwood line convincingly.

Blackwood supporters were now cheering them on as victory was clearly in sight and although Monmouth kept trying hard, Blackwood were not going to concede any tries.

Nor did they, leaving Monmouth to worry about their line-out and scrummaging inadequacies and ability to make a potentially poorer side look so much better than they really were. The home Cup game next week (ko 2.30pm) will be an excellent test of whether they can learn from their mistakes.

Tries: J.Lebon

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