WRU East One
Although the weather was cool and calm on Saturday as was appropriate for the silence impeccably observed by all present, the finishing ten minutes of the game at Abergavenny’s Bailey Park was anything but, as Monmouth ran in two late tries to convincingly seal a bumper 40-15 derby win, reports PETE WALTERS.
Playing up the slope to start, and having to defend early direct carries by the home team, centre Jordan Howells showed how he meant to continue with a forceful break on the left after five minutes to find fellow centre Dan Dunmore in support to open the score with an unconverted try.
And Dunmore was to figure again following a break out of defence by wing Matt Tabb, whose chip kick he followed up, but following the tackle the penalty kick to the corner gained nought due to a crooked throw in.
Abergavenny worked their way back to Monmouth’s 22 with their young heavier pack exploiting Monmouth frailty in the set piece scrums.
But after regaining territory and a series of winning rucks at the Hereford Road end, Tabb then stepped up for the first of several successful kicks at goal to widen the lead to 8-0 after ten minutes.
In just a short time, following a break from inside his own half, full-back Lewis Bates outpaced the defence over some 70 yards for Monmouth’s second try of the game which Tabb this time converted.
The referee, who generally had a good game, questionably then penalised a Monmouth forward within an easily kickable distance for not releasing after a tackle, when he had not actually been the tackler.
But fortunately the kick went awry, as was to be the case throughout the game.
Despite being pushed back down the slope at scrums, visiting scrum-half Oliver Scriven was making sure he quickly passed, thus helping to negate this area of Abergavenny strength.
A poor attacking kick into the home half was fortunately knocked on and from the resulting scrum Bates was again on hand to support a narrow side move and go over.
But Monmouth had to make a blood substitution for flanker Ryan Holder, who had been having, and later returned for, an all round robust performance, supported well by engine room forwards Logan Woskett and Will Tyler, who gave as good as they got throughout.
Abergavenny were now rallying after their earlier setbacks as half-time approached, and the score crept up to 23-10 with two unconverted tries of their own, compensated for a little by a further penalty from the boot of Tabb.
The second half commenced apace as both sides showed the benefit of the half-time ‘breather’.But it was Tabb again who stretched the divide to 16 points with another penalty.
Kester Mobbs-Morgan was soon to join the back row and his legs tackling proved more decisive in the necessary and continuing defence stakes.
Monmouth were only occasionally using the slope to their advantage and one lengthy clearance was kicked straight out for a ‘ball back’ decision.
Holder once again figured after his bloody nose ‘rest’ by being yellow-carded for a high tackle which the victim appeared to have dipped into.
These split second decisions cannot be criticised in fairness to the match official, although when his whistle later failed and he had to run to the clubhouse for a spare it did at least make for some ribald and entertaining comments from the crowd!
Prop Tom Green had now joined the pack to provide some greater stability and the occasional strong rumble into and through the home defence.
A further high tackle brought an Abergavenny quick penalty which saw them gain a further five points virtually untouched.
The hosts were now playing with greater vigour, and successfully defended a long series of rucks near their line, as well as a particularly strong carry by Hobbs, following on from Jordan having consistently made ground whenever he had the ball prior to his substitution.
But late on from a 5m touch, flanker Cory Harper was driven over and Tabb converted well from far out.
And with the game drawing to its close, a penalty for a tackle off the ball saw Tabb running across field to link with Bates on the loop to make good ground, which centre Morgan Jeffs, eager and back from injury, completed for an easy conversion by Tabb and a 40-15 effective drubbing.
The second win in a row following on from the previous Saturday’s 23-19 triumph over Risca should prove good preparation for this Saturday’s (November 18) mid-table home clash with Bedlinog at the Sports Ground.
Abergavenny travel to Risca this weekend, while elsewhere, Chepstow lost out 25-20 at home to Abercarn in WRU East 3 on Saturday, with a trip to Machen up next this weekend.