Monmouth 15 Nelson 32
Despite brave words on social media in the week leading up to this game, Monmouth were outgunned by a team more rugged in the way they played, more determined, more astute in using the weather conditions and playing the referee whilst also being quicker off the mark than Monmouth who, in fairness had about the best team they could put out, reports Peter Walters
With a strong crosswind slightly in the favour of the visitors Monmouth were quickly on the back, foot following an excellent early break through the centre by Nelson and a deep kick into the left hand corner had the home team scurrying back to save their line.
This tactic was to be repeated on several occasions and on one such incursion Monmouth failed to catch and clear well enough resulting in an easy penalty for Nelson to open the score.
Monmouth responded and full back Johnson was on hand to kick the first of five penalties despite the troublesome wind.
But it was Nelson who were making the most ground with ball in hand from strong breaks and fierce rucking.
Despite occasional strong tackles by the home team far too often Nelson were able to punch holes in the defence through sheer strong running.
On the half hour, having been rebuffed several times on the line, Nelson scored their first drive over the line under the posts to take a 3-10 lead but almost immediately a yellow card for a deliberate knock on might have bolstered Monmouth but the most they could achieve was a further penalty for an offside in midfield thwarting an attack.
Play was stopped at this stage for a while as scrum half Scrivens was carried from the field with an ankle injury.
Fortunately White and Johnson could move to scrum and fly half respectively but it did little for the overall defence against strong charges by Nelson or the line speed they showed when up in the faces of attacking home players.
Tactically Nelson were more astute and played the match official cleverly but they were eventually caught yet again killing the ball, with Johnson’s fourth penalty taking Monmouth into a half-time 12-10 lead.
Nelson started the second half better and were to win the breakthrough with a penalty of their own followed swiftly by a chip and chase into the left downfield corner which they won to go 12-18 ahead.
The reliable boot of Johnson clawed back three further points from a penalty but Nelson soon gained ground again into the left corner.
Their line-out led to a maul which they drove over with clever additional support from their some of their three-quarters and were soon looking the more dominant side overall.
Their third try had them calling for greater effort as they sought a bonus point and despite Monmouth’s extra attempts to make an impact they met a solid wall of resistance.
Another yellow card to Nelson, this time for a high tackle, may have helped enough for Monmouth to put them under pressure but prop Bartlett fell just short of driving over the line which was the last real opportunity for Monmouth to turn the tables.
Some degree of panic and poor execution by Monmouth defenders and some misdirected kicks from within the Monmouth 22 saw Nelson maintaining their dominance and, well into extra time, scored again with a conversion from far out to seal the match 32-15 with a bonus point to boot.
Next Saturday brings an away journey to Brynmawr which is likely to prove an even bigger challenge.