WITH Monmouth 1st XV in between fixtures, there was a choice of two games to view on Chippenham on Saturday, reports PETE WALTERS.

The Druids XV entertained Pill RFC, and the crowd as well, in a keenly-fought contest which Monmouth won by five tries to three, with the home scorers being Will Scriven, Elmo Phillips, Joe Impey, Rhys Evans and Ellis Brown, with three converted on a tricky day for goal-kicking in the strong gusts from Storm Kathleen.

Joe Impey takes on two Pill defenders
Joe Impey takes on two Pill defenders (Gareth Roberts)

The home pack’s strength in the scrums and strong running of their three-quarters put their opponents under pressure.

But Pill used the wind cleverly to make 50-22 clearances in the second period, as opposed to Monmouth squandering some possession in the first half kicking the ball too far, with it either going dead or being touched down by a defender.

Rhys Evans scored a try and kicked three conversions
Rhys Evans scored a try and kicked three conversions (GARETH ROBERTS)

A 19-7 half-time lead looked comfortable but Pill fought back using the wind well. making things nail-biting with just eight minutes having narrowed the difference to 26-21.

A few opportunities for Monmouth had gone begging following good breaks, but lack of support at the breakdown or some over elaboration or mishandling kept Pill’s hopes alive.

Monmouth Druids' Park and Scriven in defence
Druids' players hold up a Pill player (GARETH ROBERTS)

But it was appropriate, on not only the balance of territorial advantage, that alert scrum-half Brown, who had linked and directed well throughout, was on hand in the final minutes to pick up a ball that spilled out of a defensive scrum to cross untouched to make the final score 31-21.

Monmouth’s Youth XV had a tougher experience on the adjacent pitch though.

With the knock-on effect of family Easter holidays meaning they could only field a 13-player team, the disruption showed in the face of a robust and organised Oakdale outfit, who showed themselves physically mature and ran out 45-5 winners.

The Druids team
The Druids team (GARETH ROBERTS)

Monmouth made it near the opposition line a few times but fell short to either a mis-handling error or worse, a penalty for holding on.

But these near misses kept up their spirit, and as the final whistle approached the ball went wide on the right and second row Finn Pardington was on hand to dummy and cross over for the only home score, and subsequently the Mandarin Stone-sponsored Monmouth ‘Man of the Match’ award.

Monmouth Youth scored a late try
Monmouth Youth scored a late try (GARETH ROBERTS)

With the 1st XV having Saturday off in WRU East One, elsewhere Abergavenny virtually secured their place in the division by beating second to bottom Risca 37-34 in a nail-biting relegation derby.

At the other end of the table, unbeaten champions elect Brynmawr kept their hopes of reaching 100 points alive with a 50-5 home win over Senghenydd.

Usk missed out 40-20 at Cwmbran in a mid-table East 2 derby, while Caldicot's shock 32-31 win over promotion hopeful visitors Blackwood took them nine points above the drop zone.

Chepstow went close losing 33-29 at high-flying Rhymney, but have nine points and a game in hand on the E3 drop zone.

Usk host Abertillery BG at 7.30pm on Wednesday (April 10) night before travelling to Caldicot for a Monmouthshire derby on Saturday (April 13).

Other Saturday games include Monmouth v Senghenydd, Pontypool United v Abergavenny and Chepstow v Abertysswg.