THE quarter final of the Ivor Jones Cup was the challenge for Monmouth Druids on Chippenham Mead against Blaenavon Forgeside RFC.
This match was the first between the two sides following the Cup Final two seasons ago, when the Druids were awarded the game after Forge side were disqualified for fielding a number of unqualified players.
This ruling by the officials was made after the game which finished with Forgeside having scoring the most points and seeming to have gained a victory. Feelings therefore, between the two clubs, were thought to be tense.
Playing conditions amid the recent wet and windy weather were beautiful with bright sunshine but the pitch was very soft.
So a decent crowd were expectant of a close hard fought encounter between two determined sides as the referee got the game underway.
The Druids pack had the better of early play but no clear cut chances were forthcoming.
The visitors did miss the chance to take the lead by missing a 40 metre penalty opportunity.
The Druids almost scored when full back Huw Adams put wing Cameron Gibson away but he was held by last ditch tackling.
The Druids first score came from Huw Adams, affectionately called ‘wrecking ball’, and his determined run could not be denied and he crossed for an unconverted try.
This was followed by a try from Druids Nick Phillips which came from a commanding scrum by the home side.
Phillips picked up and used his bulk to ground the ball. Outside half Greg Wilding converted for a 12-0 lead.
Forgeside kicked a penalty goal to reduce the arrears but Druids number eight crossed again with an unconverted try after some close inter passing between the forwards.
The visitors scored a try when a Druids attack was held by good Forgeside tackling. Quick transference of the ball on the blind side and the right winger streaked over. The full back converted and the half time whistle blew with the Druids in the lead 17-10.
The second period was conclusive for the Druids as they dominated play to score more tries without response from Forgeside. Their forwards were dominant in the set pieces and their backs looked threatening in every attack they mounted. In the loose, play was more evenly matched as each side sort to gain advantage.
Tries from wing Dan Williams, flanker Dan Ansty, full back Tom Cratchley and Nick Phillips, his third, and two conversions from centre Dewi Lane made the score 41-10. Special mention on Cratchley’s try. He intercepted a Forgeside pass on his own line and sprinted the length of the field, chased desperately by defenders, to cross by the posts.
For the home side second row Milo Thomas, stood out but captain Nick Phillips who scored three tries, led his side well, and was man of the match.
Wing Cameron Gibson showed what he has to offer, in attack and defence. A fine team display which will give optimism for the semi-final of the competition.
The game was a hard slog, in heavy conditions but played in good spirit, particularly with the pre-match history. The referee kept a firm grip on the game and he is to be applauded for his efforts.