WRU East 1

Monmouth 17 Blaenavon 32

Buoyed by a win away at Blaenavon at the end of last season and a keen need to put a disappointing first month of the new season behind them, Monmouth were pleased to see the crowd at the Sportsground swelled by a large number of former players in support who had warmed up well at their annual reunion in the clubhouse, reports PETE WALTERS.

But it did not start well, a missed line out and a penalty leading to another line out in the corner and another penalty which, taken quickly, brought a first score to the visitors and a yellow card against the hosts.

Five points down inside four minutes!

Monmouth fly-half Dan White sparked with a decent chip kick in attack, resulting in a penalty kick at goal which sadly faded right, only to miss another soon after in the strong breeze.

Both sides had their moments in trying to spread the ball wide but all at this stage were defended well, although play was also punctuated a great deal with penalties for varying reasons, but possibly more for the visitors’ clumsy attempts to slow down the ball at rucks.

Noticeable though was the absence of many ‘high tackle’ penalties, perhaps because community players are learning fast what happens if you do, unlike, it would seem, their World Cup seniors if televised games are anything to go by.

No 8 Tom Hawkins though is coming back to form with his strong carrying matched equally by fellow forwards, Jack Edwards, Logan Woskett and Shaun Hobbs, who completed such a charge by Woskett, going over for a try which White converted to give Monmouth a 7-5 lead early in the second quarter.

A deep kick then brought a well up tackle and a large fracas at which a Blaenavon player persisted, receiving a yellow card for his troubles.

Woskett next charged down a mid-field kick leading to his scoring under the posts for an easy conversion to stretch the hosts’ lead to 14-5 with minutes to go to half-time.

But all was not yet done, as Blaenavon took a quick penalty, and with the referee warning off the hooker from a premature tackle, the visitors were in, virtually untouched, for an unconverted try right on the stroke of half-time.

Blaenavon recommenced the better after the break as if they really wanted to win, and straightaway were camped in the Monmouth 22 where the home team defended well but struggled to exit.

Three minutes into the half the pressure paid off, as the visitors drove over for an unconverted try, quickly followed by another when Blaenavon moved the ball wide on the left beating attempted tackles.

Two quick passes brought a converted score to make it 14-22 and a bonus point for tries scored.

Monmouth woke up and from the kick off they won and kicked a penalty for holding at the ruck and then introduced their own version of the ‘bomb squad’, leading to some measure of parity for a while.

The home side’s three-quarter moves were still rather ponderous though, and a poor pass in mid-field brought an interception and a further seven points for Blaenavon which almost put the game at 14-29 out of reach for the home team.

Full back Dan Dunmore put in some good runs out of defence, occasionally linking with White, but when substitute prop Tom Green made ground with a typical charge he was penalised after a tackle for not rolling away, even though he was clearly pinned down by a defender, with Blaenavon converting the penalty.

Monmouth tried hard to recover with some frantic passing out of defence.

But Blaenavon were not to be beaten this time. And after another bout of ‘handbags’ and a 10m penalty against them for backchat to the referee, the game fizzled out with Monmouth attacking but knocking on in the effort.

A disappointing display but hopefully better to come away at Pontypool United on Saturday, October 14, and then Brynmawr away on October 21.

Elsewhere, Abergavenny lost 46-27 at home to Talywain in the same division, while Usk secured a third win 25-15 at Garndiffaith in East 2.

Chepstow won a high-scoring game 42-37 at home to Rhymney in East 3, while over the border Berry Hill ran out 33-22 winners at home to Avonmouth Old Boys in Gloucestershire Counties 2 Tribute.