WRU East One

Monmouth 16 Nelson 21

NELSON RFC were the visitors to the Sportsground on Saturday and the doggedness they displayed in defence showed how keen they were to make amends for their 25-21 home loss to Monmouth in November, reports PETE WALTERS.

Monmouth were equally keen to win though, and from the start pounded away against the opposition defence.

It was fully seven minutes before Nelson broke into the hosts' half, albeit their sterling defence kept Monmouth pointless.

Vigorous and even exciting changes of possession were apparent with missed penalties and an intercepted offload.

Until, that is, a major foray into the Nelson 22 with fly-half Dan White having several supporting players to pass to, followed by some intricate passing outside and then inside, for scrum-half Oliver Scriven to cross near the posts, making for an easy conversion for full back Lewis Bates in the 17th minute.

Ollie Scriven scores for Monmouth
Ollie Scriven scores for Monmouth (GARETH ROBERTS)

When pressured, Nelson had difficulty clearing their line, slicing the ball into touch on a few occasions and inviting pressure.

Monmouth missed a few tackles but were put back on track by an exceptional one from hooker Joe Christopher.

But the referee was keen on high tackles, leading to a penalty try for Nelson and a yellow card for home captain Dan Dunmore in his too eager attempt to prevent a score.

Another penlaty awarded though, this time in midfield, saw a further three points from the boot of Bates, ensuring the teams changed over with a slight 10-7 Monmouth lead.

Lewis Bates kept Monmouth in the game with his boot
Lewis Bates kept Monmouth in the game with his boot (GARETH ROBERTS)

An early attacking kick then brought the hosts to 15m out, and although their scrum was now looking under pressure, a further penalty saw Bates score again, stretching the lead to 13-7.

Whether it was fitness or otherwise, injuries were accruing and upsetting the flow.

The home pack were struggling to contain set-piece drives, and wing Harry Whelan put in a big kick only for it to be brought back for having gone straight out.

Nelson capitalised by pressing hard to the Monmouth line, winning a penalty try after the move was dragged down to prevent a score, to lead 14-13 at the end of the third quarter.

Monmouth mounted an encouraging attack in reply, but in response to a question from Nelson, play was halted because one of the visitors was down well away from play!

Another Monmouth attack overlooked an overlap, while on the other wing the ball was knocked on after a poor pass.

Lewis Bates kicked 11 points for Monmouth
Lewis Bates kicked 11 points for Monmouth (GARETH ROBERTS)

Bates came to the rescue with another penalty though for a 16-14 lead with 13 minutes to play.

Nelson now defended well, perhaps with the aid of an undetected offside or two or super defensive line-speed, but then heaped on the pressure at the other end only to knock a chip kick on over the line.

Dean Bartlett looking for a way throug
Dean Bartlett looking for a way through (GARETH ROBERTS)

One final incursion into Monmouth territory, again against the run of play, brought another chip kick however, and some limited defence allowed the visitors in for what turned out to be the winning 21-16 score.

Despite Monmouth trying hard in the final minutes with Whelan nearly going over, Nelson achieved the win they came for, leaving the hosts with yet another losing bonus point.

Kester Mobbs-Morgan makes a tackle
Kester Mobbs-Morgan makes a tackle (GARETH ROBERTS)

Flanker Ollie Park was afterwards awarded the Frank Sutton Ltd Player of the Match, which in a way rewarded the whole back row for their major efforts, but equally in fair recognition of his consistency in the degree of ‘grafting’.

Dowlais, who currently sit below Monmouth in the Admiral National League 1 East (although with four games in hand) are next away on March 23 after another Six Nations weekend lull, and then a return home fixture on March 30.