WRU National Bowl Round Two - Abergavenny 3 Monmouth 18

FEARFUL that Monmouth were certain to win away again, the Bailey Park crowds were much reduced following their heavy defeat in the League the previous week. Their fears were to be confirmed in that Abergavenny again succumbed to the strength of the visitors, but the 18-3 loss was not the hiding that many homesters may have feared.

Monmouth therefore progress to the next round of the National Bowl but the changes they had made for this game were not quite the further progression they had hoped for but then the referee with his perpetual whistling and seeming dislike of the word ’advantage’ was perhaps the fault.

With good weather conditions again promising a fast and open game, Matthew Tabb at fullback was the first to lead the charge with a counter attack and deep kick for touch 30m out but the penalty that soon followed was missed.

The scrums took a while to settle, prompting several free kicks and Monmouth’s defence was soon called upon to snuff out a dangerous overlap,

As things gradually settled, Tabb, was first on the score-sheet with a kick for offside around ten minutes in, but quickly equalled for the same reason.

Line-outs were a source of disarray with the referee’s judgements in doubt but if one hoped a yellow card would sort things out, it did not as numerous penalties ensued along with a further four cards by the end for varying offences.

Both sides played with a high level of vigour but this and the importance of the match for both sides was making play error-prone. That is, until the majestic Amosa Nove began a counter-attack 20 metres from his line. HIs pace and determination took him to within 20 metres of his opponents’ line when he drew the final defender and fed on to fly half Paul Emmanueli who scored untouched under the posts. Tabb added two easy points.

A yellow card incurred for allegedly crossing through the line–out gave the home team hope and Monmouth had to spend the remains of the half defending.

Half-time came and the long distance view of the referee explaining to Monmouth’s coach looked more like an excerpt from Strictly Come Dancing rather than a meeting of minds on the laws governing the line-out.

Abergavenny, pleased with only a seven point difference at the break came out determined to redress the balance but with too much intent as a fierce high tackle followed by the ’dive’ taken by their flanker cleverly restricted their punishment to a yellow card.

Monmouth, now with a numbers advantage were cleverly pushed down-field by astute kicks to the left corner by their fly half which eventually paid dividends. From a recycled ruck 20 metres out in the centre of the field, blind side flanker Rhys Davies glided, it seemed effortlessly, through a batch of corner flagging defenders to feed a player on his left who swiftly transferred to number eight Scott Giles who despite scoring in the corner was to see Tabb again converting a difficult conversion.

Abergavenny dug deep, including strangely reinstating a player who had left the field earlier having lost consciousness, and Monmouth in turn had to defend their line on numerous occasions. Not helped one must say by Seran being sent from the field to ’cool off’ following an alleged ’no arms’ tackle on his very first action as a replacement.

Defence was turned into attack by a searing break out of his 22 by centre Nove who unfortunately knocked on when finally tackled well over the halfway line.

With play moving back into Monmouth’s 22, a penalty was advanced 10 metres for dissent but the home team declined to kick for goal only to suffer a turnover in the ensuing action and a welcome kick to touch.

This necessary relief did not last long with Tom Hawkins next to be banished for, it seemed, persistent offside, but the Monmouth pack was still giving of its best, ensuring Abergavenny were kept on the back foot. A cross kick to the left corner was safely fielded by them but it was called back for yet another penalty for offside which Tabb kicked to extend the lead to 3-18.

The home team dug in for a final fling but Monmouth determinedly protected their line for the remaining minutes of the game including a try saving tackle on an Abergavenny wing.

This relatively comfortable advancement in the cup is a timely boost for Monmouth’s confidence for the league visit to the Sportsground of Abertysswg this coming Saturday. Kick off is at the usual 2.30pm.