WRU East One: Dowlais 22 - Monmouth 17  

WITH the forecast cloud and rain having prematurely blown down into Monmouthshire, a sunny Dowlais afternoon resulted and saw tactics influenced instead by the strong, cold cross-field wind, reports PETE WALTERS.  

Monmouth were quickest out of the blocks and before Dowlais had responded to their coach’s exhortations to ‘wake up’, they were 0-10 behind, first to wing Whelan’s try and a  conversion and a penalty by wing Tabb.  

Mishandling by both sides punctuated the game due to cold fingers but Dowlais got the message and soon responded with a wind hampered unconverted try of their own..  The contest was fierce throughout with the visitors raised at one stage by a threatening attack being ended by a pile-driver tackle from 2nd Row Hobbs.

Shaun Hobbs burst through 3 tackles to score a try for a 7th consecutive game.jpg
Shaun Hobbs burst through three tackles to score a try for a 7th consecutive game. (Monmouth RFC)

The vigorous scavenging by the whole  back row served them well and No 8 Edwards was later named the Robert Price Builders Merchants Monmouth Man of the Match.  Given the home team’s superior bulk, the Monmouth set pieces held up well although the nippiness of Powell at scrum half and some strong running Dowlais backs were challenging throughout. Throwing into the lines-out was also challenging for both hookers given the gusting   wind but some highly athletic ‘takes’ were apparent nevertheless.  

Territory was shared in the first half and, but for a vital cover tackle which prevented an almost certain try in the right hand corner, Monmouth’s lead at the break might well have been 12 rather than 5 points.  The home team restarted forcefully and although the referee missed little, they managed the wind and his slightly lax view on offside better, which aided their blitz defence. Penalties there were aplenty for numerous reasons as both sides fought hard but Dowlais suffered most, losing two players during this half to yellow cards although the one for a spear tackle on another day might well have been red.  When in the visitors’ 22, a smart set-piece line-out move by Dowlais threw Monmouth who set to contest a driving maul but a speedy and well supported transfer wider for a try near the posts moved them into a 12-10 lead.

Monmouth quickly regained the advantage (12-17) through Hobbs with a typical charging run continuing his try scoring habit. Tabb again added the extras.  And then misfortune: Dowlais kicked deep out of their 22 but it was touched in flight putting their retreating players on-side and in position to score a converted try at the other end after a few simple passes.  A 50-22 clearance again gained position and put Monmouth under pressure in their half. Conceding a penalty increased the home lead to 22-17.  

Jack Edwards put in a Man of the Match performance.
Jack Edwards put in a Man of the Match performance. (Monmouth RFC)

Monmouth fought back hard in the remaining five minutes but quite fairly the referee saw a hand on the jumper’s arm in a defending line-out which allowed Dowlais to relieve the pressure.  Soon under the cosh again they were relieved to kick the ball out of play to secure their win. 

The result leaves Monmouth seventh and Dowlais ninth.  And this Saturday brings Dowlais (March 30) back to the Sportsground for the return fixture which should make matters even more interesting!  Elsewhere in WRU East One, Abergavenny beat top-half Bedlinog to move nine points clear of the drop zone, while fifth-placed Blaenavon lost 14-0 at home to second-placed Talywain. In an all-Monmouthshire clash, Usk also lost a nailbiter 16-15 at home to Caldicot in East 2. Other fixtures on Saturday include Cwmbran v Usk, Ynysddu v Abergavenny, Blaenavon v Risca.