Monmouth 58 - Llanhilleth 21
ON an unusually greasy sports ground pitch due to previous rain, Monmouth needed to show they had recovered their confidence after the drubbing they had received at Caerphilly and this they did in almost complete style.
The first scrum set the scene with Monmouth forcing a penalty and from the ensuing line-out the ball moved across field to the right. ‘Big Jono’, their Kiwi 2nd row, was on hand to dive over for his maiden try for the Club, completing a strong charge for the line by Green, a young prop whose confidence grows with every game.
Llanhilleth bounced back forcing two kickable penalties but both were missed by a player who unusually chose to tee up the ball directly on the ground, with one only thwarted by the post.
The visitors maintained the initiative and next caught the home team unawares with a deep chip into space in front of the full back which when hacked on saw the Llanhilleth man reach the line first.
A good game looked to be in prospect with the scores tied at 7-7 and despite a good attempt at a drift defence Monmouth got into the right hand corner and the other 2nd Row Jonno (Sparey) added to the score although the kick proved too difficult for the fly-half to complete.
Monmouth’s scrum began to dominate, although the same cannot be said of the line-out. Several players showed they were ‘on fire’ with full back Nuove delighting in seeking contact whilst counter-attacking as well as getting on the score-sheet; their mobile hooker White who seemed to be everywhere; and wing Mobbs Morgan, who completed three tries for a personal hat-trick, tackled fiercely and endlessly sought involvement wherever it could be found.
Inside the first half hour, Monmouth had gained a bonus point after Nuove’s try and then a great break by centre Hellard fed the left wing for his first score.
The Kiwi lock was next to make considerable ground with the recycled ball flowing left to Mobbs Morgan again. With the conversion by Parsons Monmouth moved 29-7 ahead but the team was fully on song at this stage and Nuove made another converted try for his winger to reach the break 36-7.
Although the home team was first to score in the second half when No 8 Hawkins was driven over at close quarters after a thrusting run by Hellard, a looser approach borne presumably of over confidence was becoming apparent.
Looser passing was creeping in, inevitably making for mistakes and giving Llanhilleth greater hope, which they exploited and began to put three-quarter moves of their own together. An exchange of scores including a further Hawkins try and 46-14 edged Llanhilleth towards the prospect of a bonus point of their own.
Sloppy passing brought further advancement from an interception try kept that dream alive at 46-21 until Mobbs Morgan saw an opportunity up the left. He set off at pace fending off tacklers and after beating the third defender, slipped the ball inside to the supporting Nuove who generously handed on for Goddard to score near the posts.
The local substitutes were now prominent in their keenness to be part of the action but it was Parsons who next benefitted from a kick ahead and an excellent pick up on the run to reach what was to be the final 58-21 score.
A comprehensive win against a team that is struggling in the league but whose 15 players display lots of pluck, fighting hard when the chips were down. But Monmouth can take much credit at the ways in which they tried to play rugby with several fine cameo performances by individuals which can only bode well for the future.
6 Nations seasons can damage form with missed games but at least there is the challenge of
Chepstow away on 18th February to look forward to, as well as the celebratory ‘Copley Veterans’ game at 11.30am on Saturday 11th of February, as a precursor to the Wales vs England game. Wales vs England will be showing in the clubhouse for those unlucky enough to have no ticket.
Photographs courtesy Gareth Roberts