3:55pm Thursday 17th October 2013
Monmouth 20 - Chepstow 25
Having missed a game the week before, Monmouth came out firing on all 6 cylinders and in a frantic first few minutes were all over their visitors from Chepstow. Cooler heads might have taken a kick at goal but an early quick penalty attempt was snuffed out with no score resulting.
Enthusiastic even wild passes ensured lack of progress for Monmouth with Chepstow delighting in driving them back into their own half. In fact it was to be a full 8 minutes before the home side next found itself in their opponents’ 22m area following which the supporting centre Davies was up in support of a move to win a penalty which fly half Ricketts kicked for the first points of the day.
Monmouth were soon back in Chepstow territory with a kick up-field but left wing Lane missed his man allowing the visitors to run back the ball to deep within the home 22m. Sadly this was not to be the first occasion of line kicks seeming to be aimed straight to defenders who were able to slip tackles by those following up kicks and thus regain position and more. The home forwards were not impressed and were saying so.
Chepstow’s considerable first half territorial advantage eventually took its toll on 20 minutes as their pack eventually burrowed their way over despite 6 rebuffed attempts at the line to take a 3-7 lead.
Monmouth responded but some further bad passes and then a chip kick straight to a waiting Chepstow back who marked it when there had been two men outside eager to take the move on took play back to half-way.
From loose play following the line-out the ball was spun out left for Chepstow to add a try and yet miss what should have been an easy kick. Yet even this had not alerted Monmouth to the risk their opponents represented and Chepstow were allowed another score with a break on the right and a missed tackle again making the score easier than it should have been.
At 3-19 against Monmouth now tried positively several times to recover the position and Lane made a good break only to run out of support just before the welcome half-time whistle. The breather was much needed by both sides after the hectic first half although one doubts the home side welcomed some of the deserved harsh words directed their way by their coaches.
The scrummaging looked immediately stronger from the re-start but before long the ills of the three-quarters’ old ways returned.
Ricketts kicked long despite eager support in abundance along-side him, straight to a man who marked it. Chepstow in turn kicked deep but a poor pass infield and a kick across field direct to touch followed by a penalty for an infringement which Chepstow gladly converted seemed to epitomise Monmouth’s day. Up until that point that is!
Suddenly local pride kicked on and Monmouth came alive, helped a little perhaps by the visitors thinking their task at 3-22 was all but complete.
12 minutes in the ball went right from a maul and then back to earn Monmouth a penalty near the posts but scrum-half Gareth Morgan, newly returned from injury, took it quickly, broke right and then held the defence and with a lofted pass put into the corner unmarked right wing Jake Meredith.
The kick from way out was just beyond Ricketts but the sparkling try lifted spirits. Davies next made ground for Morgan to then move the ball again to Meredith on the right via Roberts and young Dan Anstey backing up superbly took the scoring inside pass which Ricketts converted.
A 15-22 score with a full 27 minutes left brought even greater encouragement as Morgan used all the player options on either side of him as he ran through for a spectacular solo try but crucially Ricketts was again unable to convert.
Chepstow realised the game was in danger of slipping away and displayed adventure of their own thwarted only by a despairing tackle out on their right wing as they neared the right hand corner.
Monmouth gave away a penalty to put 5 points between the teams and then battered away at the Chepstow line for virtually the remainder of the game and despite a yellow card for a member of the Chepstow pack were still unable to find the composure and perhaps a little luck to steal the game in the remaining minutes.
After an exceedingly disappointing first half Monmouth played some stirring rugby to just fall short at 20-25 but greater consistency is a must if they are not to be always playing second fiddle to others. Next week brings Ynysddu to The Sports Ground in the 2nd Round of the Swalec Bowl (ko 2.30p.m.) – a challenge indeed given their respective league positions.
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