3:34pm Wednesday 16th April 2014
HAVING beaten New Tredegar last week, Monmouth hoped to go one better last Saturday away at Caldicot and by half-time they were holding their own with five kicks from the back-on-form Ricketts and a Dewi Lane try, to two tries against, and that with four of their strongest forwards absent.
Inside the first 10 minutes, returned player George Shirlaw's value at No. 8 was apparent with two significant incursions from the base of the scrum, the second of these bringing three points from a high ballooning penalty kick on the spasmodic gusts of wind.
Caldicot have a young team and the pressure exerted by the visiting front row soon caused Caldicot to offend and the dissent shown made the second kick for Monmouth easier.
The six-point cushion was encouraging Monmouth to spread the ball wide and wing Meredith all but made it in the right corner but knocked on following a final tackle.
Caldicot rallied to return and drive a line-out on their right which Monmouth struggled to contain and conceded a penalty for dragging down the move. A kick to touch set the home pack up for a well executed maul and they scored a deserved try but the wind ensured they failed the conversion.
The lively play continued and Caldicot next went clearly off-side trying to recover a charged down chip kick for Ricketts to stretch the lead to 5-9 within the first quarter.
Caldicot responded through their mauling and when this won them a series of rucks, Monmouth’s defence had been dragged to one side of the field to make the next try almost a run-in. The kick went unconverted.
Centre Andrew Davies was making breaks willy-nilly but the final pass was not going to hand and following a scrum penalty for a rare "not straight", Monmouth moved the ball quickly left and wing Meredith charged along touch and through despairing tackles to just be held up over the line.
Another penalty came Monmouth’s way for handling in the ruck and the score was 10-12 soon after a near miss for Ricketts from near 50 metres.
Monmouth’s tails were up and Shirlaw climbed high at a line-out to set off a backs move, which Adams took on with vigour to hand on to the battle-scarred centre Lane who dotted the ball over the line as he was tackled. With Ricketts adding the extra two points Adams was in the hunt again but a speculative pass went to ground and Monmouth had a 10-19 half-time lead.
After the break Monmouth were penalised at the very first ruck which Caldicot kicked to narrow the gap to 13-19.
A quick response by Adams took the ball well up-field but when the ball went loose captain Harding was guilty of an illegal tackle on the clearing kicker for which he earned a yellow card.
End-to-end play continued and despite being a man down Shirlaw initiated another move involving Davies and Meredith but the ball was lost inside with the line approaching.
Caldicot were sin-binned for off-side but they too held out with a man short.
An alarm bell began ringing with Monmouth losing a prop to a yellow card for failing to roll away in the tackle. Caldicot threw in crooked and penalties abounded as Caldicot pushed for a win as a home team player scooted over untouched for a try under the posts. A massed charge at the kick was to no avail and the final whistle gave the win 20-19 to Caldicot with just a losing bonus point to Monmouth.
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