Division 4 South East
MONMOUTH started their home game against Caldicot on Saturday keen to make amends for their recent performance against New Tredegar.
Everyone seemed up for this game on all fronts but it was Caldicot who gradually displayed a greater cohesion and eagerness with astute deep kicks downfield into the corners keeping Monmouth on the defensive.
A penalty for not releasing in the tackle by an isolated player led to the first score as Caldicot’s vigorous forwards drove a maul over the line, but fortunately for Monmouth the kick failed as did several others before the end.
A counter attack by the home team fizzled out when Gareth Morgan, playing on the right wing this week, popped up on the other side of the field but was overrun by the other wing, who was penalised for crossing as he tried to recover the position.
Caldicot used the penalty to make good ground in return and when held were awarded a penalty as their player seemed to fall into a tackle and only 20 metres out in the centre of the field.
The score was 0-8 after 25 minutes and Monmouth tried to run the ball out of defence despite Caldicot being in their faces.
The nippy visiting backs knew how to pressurise defences and when Monmouth missed a tackle in the centre it was fly half Ricketts who made amends with a tackle on the ball carrier, only to see the ball recycled from the ruck, passed out to the left and round under the posts for a easy conversion.
The pressure on Monmouth eased slightly as Ricketts kicked a penalty for not releasing in the tackle with minutes to go before half-time, and although the home team piled on the pressure first a knock-on from a high attacking kick and then a poor pass behind a flying wingman saw the changeover arrive still with a 12-point deficit (3-15).
Whatever was said to them during the interval, Monmouth started the second half well, from an early scrum and a loop around move full back Anthony Layne scored with Ricketts converting.
The Monmouth pack was now fired up with Druids Gibson and Phillips standing out and scrum-half Kyle Price linking very effectively. The referee who had warned individuals several times for handling in rucks now stopped play to warn both sides about such transgressions and within five minutes the Caldicot number eight fell foul and was sent to the sin-bin.
Monmouth took advantage of their extra man with a scrum for the penalty and when the front rows came up they went for a re-set which they trundled forward to achieve a penalty try as Caldicot tried to disrupt its final stages.
The man advantage again benefited them when from a line-out captain Sam Harding took the ball cleanly and from the resulting maul a further try took them to a 22-15 lead.
The game loosened up as both sides strove to score again, sparked even more by substitute Ludo Thomas, whose hand has obviously mended.
Caldicot threw everything at their disposal at Monmouth as a yellow card against flanker Gray improved their odds. They eventually crossed far out on the right but a missed conversion left the visitors at 22-20 and still needing a score. They had a penalty chance but decided to go for touch rather than take the kick but somehow Monmouth kept them out.
A loose ball saw virtually all the backs led by Morgan, who had a lively second half, break out right down field near to the line. A poor throw-in gave the ball away but when Caldicot dropped a pass the ball was again hacked down-field but eventually too far, and dead.
But it did not matter - Monmouth had achieved an almost unexpected win against one of the league higher-flyers and perhaps this is the fillip they have been waiting for. Only time will tell.