WRU East One
Ynysddu 18 Monmouth 15
WITH rain always threatening, but only fleetingly materialising, both sides played a hard fought, very even and good spirited game, with both sides keen to cross swords again after several seasons apart, reports PETE WALTERS.
What should have been an easy penalty kick for Monmouth in the very early stages was badly missed and emphasised perhaps the recent loss to the visiting team of two players to Cinderford 2nd XV; one who excelled with his kicking game and the other for his all around combative back row play.
Monmouth shrugged off such potential drawbacks generating the majority of the pressure and territorial advantage for much of the first half.
Penalties there were aplenty equally shared and often for high tackles as referees quite rightly try to limit danger and particularly to the head and neck area.
In fact it was 24 minutes before Ynysddu found themselves anywhere near the visitors’ 22 but on one occasion being prevented by an earth shuddering tackle by centre Jeffs.
This does not mean that Ynysddu were ineffective during this period.
Their full back was a very strong and penetrative counter-attacker but Monmouth were tackling well even if much of their own moves were rather lateral in nature.
Once camped nearer the Monmouth line, despite desperate defence, the hosts were able to level the scores following an earlier penalty by fly half Dan White .
And, after a shared exchange of failed kicks at goal, Ynysddu took the lead 6-3 as half-time beckoned for an offside offence.
Monmouth may have been physically superior thus far but it is points on the board that count.
Urged by a member of the background team at the restart to ‘smash them’, Ynysddu’s young left wing took it too literally taking the catcher in the air and earning a yellow card as a result.
Line-outs were not Monmouth’s forte on the day, though more to do with inaccurate throwing. But one trick which worked in the first half was a frontline ball speedily returned to the thrower. However, even this did not work again under the beady eye of the referee for not travelling the requisite five metres.
Ynysddu were obtaining greater success now and some moves gained them 40 metres and more before they could be halted.
Both sides were kicking for territory but Monmouth were to be disappointed in hindsight, in that the one slope on their right was not exploited as often as it might have been.
Flanker and captain Jack Edwards was having his usual good game and set up a midfield position leading to a move towards the right corner.
But when play was called back for a penalty near the posts, the ball was worked left this time and a long pass found Joe Impey well positioned on the wing to squeeze into the corner.
Full back Lewis Bates converted the difficult conversion to take a 10-6 lead.
Roused by this, Ynysddu were soon back on the rampage moving the ball first right then left and then scoring near the posts for a 13-10 lead with 18 minutes left to play.
Scrum-half Scrivens was next to shine when following a poor Ynysddu line out he stole the ball but so outpaced his support that he became isolated at the tackle incurring a penalty for holding on.
The referee himself was next the focus when he wrongly awarded a free kick for a fair catch which had actually been dropped, unseen by him.
He bravely apologised and reversed his decision but Monmouth used this reversal to advance speedily down the left, winning the ensuing ruck and moving the ball across the field for right wing Dan Dunmore to score far out to regain a 15-13 lead.
The hosts rallied again, helped perhaps a little by the referee seeming to become particularly ‘picky’ with Monmouth, perhaps seeming to make amends for his earlier error, putting the visitors ‘under the cosh’ whereafter numerous rucks on their goal-line saw the attack spread wide and left, finished off in style with a long pass for their wing to go over in the corner.
With the score 18-15, it was still all to play for, and when Monmouth took their attack to the other end, last play was called and instead of speculatively kicking for a drawn result, with Ynysddu losing a player to the bin for backchat, the gamble for a try failed with a knock on and brought the final whistle.
A losing bonus point is but slight consolation given the closeness of the game and some opportunities missed.
This Saturday's (September 23) WRU Cup game at Nelson has been called off owing to injuries and unavailability.
Monmouth will next be in action in there league at home to Blaenavon on Saturday, September 30.