Sun shines as players produce free-flowing memorial match
Saturday saw a large crowd flock to the Sportsground in the Summer-like weather to see a fitting inaugural charity memorial match in honour of former player Ted Senior, reports Pete Walters.
A Combination XV made up of teammates of Monmouth Comprehensive School and Monmouth RFC played the Ted Senior Foundation Barbarians, comprising those who played alongside the former school head boy from Raglan, at Oxford RFC, Bristol University and beyond.
Following a one-minute clap by all present in memory of Ted, and friends Max Davies, Roddy Thompson and Jacob Picken, play commenced at a furious pace.
Although both sides defended well, the visitors by the end of the first 20-minute quarter were 12 points to the good in what was clearly going to be a true Barbarians style free-flowing game.
All those playing and the referee, who kept up well with play and entered into the spirit of the occasion, barely seeing not-straight throws into lines-out nor slight forward passes, welcomed the format of three intervals in a game of four 20-minute quarters designed to help players regain their breath.
The second quarter brought an immediate further try from the elusive right wing popping up on the left to loop around and carried in to the posts for an easy conversion.
Trailing 17-0, the home team finally stirred with fly-half Max Senior nearly reaching the try-line, before full-back Morgan Paley picked up and dotted down.
Within five minutes the balance had swung, with two more tries in which Senior and Paley were again involved, and then prop Evan Whitson charged through to score an exceptional try
Now 19-17 ahead, Monmouth Combination were about to score again but were called back on safety grounds as the referee seemingly thought a player being treated on the ground was impeding play, despite the fact that the action had long visited and left that area.
Never mind - it was a day for thrills and spills and fun!
The pace of play was beginning to tell a little as there was an over-reliance on grubber kicks to gain ground, with the result that several went too far with goal-line drop-outs a result.
In the third quarter after a superb charge by hooker Henry Palmer, Monmouth drove a maul to score again and then with a superb line-break in return, the Barbarians scored from some distance to narrow the scores to 24-22.
But Monmouth bounced back and squeezed in another by centre Jordan Howells for a 31-22 lead as they went into the final quarter.
The Barbarians found some remaining energy with the aid of ample substitutes to put their hosts under extreme pressure which created a massive overlap on the left to walk in another try.
At 31-27 both sides opened up fully and play became quite frantic leading to errors galore.
But Monmouth were able to exploit this best with two further converted tries with Max Senior appropriately sealing the win 45-27.
It proved an excellent exhibition of fast and free flowing rugby which benefitted the Ted Senior Foundation wonderfully in the hope that this is the first of many such memorial matches for such fine former local players.
* Monmouth 1st XV travel to face Brynmawr this Saturday afternoon (April 23) in their final League 1 East match of the season.
And the following day (Sunday, April 24) sees the club host the Monmouth RFC Mini and Junior Rugby festival from 10am to 4.30pm.
Monmouth Combination XV 45
Ted Senior Foundation Barbarians XV 27
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