Monmouth almost outmuscle Muscat
HMS MONMOUTH’s third game of her Op KIPION 17 deployment saw them pitted against Muscat RFC, a side established in 1971 by a group of rugby mad expats. Limited in training opportunities, the Black Duke side was keen to show that their time spent in practice was worthwhile and that they were constantly improving. A number of key players were missing from the starting line due to injuries and duty personnel but nothing was going to faze the 15 selected.
Kick off got underway with Monmouth receiving. Pressure was immediately exerted by Muscat driving Monmouth beyond their 5 metre line. Recovering the ball, pressure was alleviated by a reassuring 50 metre kick to touch from fly half Carter. The next 10 minutes was played in the opponents’ half with Monmouth pinning Muscat in that area with ‘in your face’ line speed. Some strong scrummaging was displayed by both sides but with the hot conditions both teams in the first quarter struggled with ball in hand. With the game broken up into quarters the Monmouth team ended the first on the retreat with Muscat thumping the ball into touch.
The second quarter got underway with a lineout to Monmouth from the 40 metre line. Recovering the ball Muscat broke the line of defence with an inside ball to the centre who touched down for the first try. The conversion was missed giving the home side a narrow lead of 5 – 0 with 26 exhausting minutes played. Monmouth responded with a turnover ball from the restart. Three penalties were given in quick succession against a weary Muscat defence at the 5 metre line, allowing Kelly to receive a short pass to let him slip over the line for Monmouth’s first try. The conversion was successful from Carter giving the sailors a slender lead of 2 points. Before the half time whistle, both teams suffered handling errors giving away a few scrums causing the tiring front rows to get a tad frustrated and the occasional light head flew; a lightning fast quip from Bevan was overheard on the side lines, “If he throws a head butt like that, it’s going up again”.
With the second half under away Monmouth quickly regained the ball. Working on faster inter-play, a short ball was popped to Elliott who broke the Muscat defensive line and outran the full back for a converted try under the post. Monmouth increased their lead to 9 points. The next 10 minutes was dominated by creative attack play from the away team pressuring Muscat to give away penalties. Carter took advantage of the ill-discipline and gave his team an extra 3 points 56 minutes into the game, leaving the score 5 – 17 to Monmouth. Muscat struck back with a 25m dash to the try line from their outside centre which brought them within a try difference 12 – 17.
The last quarter started off with some strong play from Muscat as they secured a try 5 minutes into the period missing the conversion bringing the score to 17-17. Both teams were now blowing, everyman and his dog were praying for the final whistle with barely audible groans emanating as a couple more scrums and a lineout were called before the referee called full time.
It was a brilliant effort by both sides in a well contested and hard fought match by the ever-improving Monmouth side.
Monmouth’s team captain, Bartlett, said on completion of the game “…that it was our best game so far and had we not been missing players this had the potential to be our first win of the deployment”.
Monmouth Team: Wtr Bartlett (Team Captain), CPO Carr , ET Donnelly, ET Spry, ET Meehan, AB Pennell, AB Robson, AB Bevan, AB Elliott, LCIS Kelly, LPT Squance, AB Griffiths, AB Carter, AB Richards, CPO Richards, LCh McConnell, SLt Knight, SC Thomas, LS Nicholls.
Words by Aaron Squance