With the Dragons away at Connacht and kicking off at 7.30pm, the DOSC spread its wings throughout the grounds of Gwent on Saturday (and Sunday) to sample some of the rugby that the region's finest had to offer, and we weren't disappointed! We witnessed a derby, a very well promoted bowl game and a David vs Golliath cup match which ended with a victory that will go down as one of the victor's finest. Oh yes, club rugby is certainly alive and well and breathing fire in the Dragons' region!
Below we provide a synopsis of the games we attended. Congratulations to all the victors and thank you for having us!
Chepstow Grind Out Win Over Gritty Monmouth
The first game the DOSC watched was the East Gwent derby at the Memorial Ground where high flyers Chepstow RFC entertained their close rivals Monmouth RFC.
Chepstow came into the game sitting 2nd in the table, having only lost twice all season, and were, in this reporters eyes, favourites to take the spoils over mid table Monmouth. The hosts certainly started the brighter of the two, spending the first ten minutes camped firmly in the opposition's 22m, but they failed to turn that pressure into points, turning the ball over and allowing Monmouth's backline, whose outside centre looked particularly dangerous, to run the ball up the other end of the field.
The first 10 minutes set the tone for the game, with Chepstow looking the more physical in the contact area and strong at the set piece, and Monmouth looking the pacier and more clinical out wide. It was the latter who drew first blood when a poor clearance kick lead to a string of neat passes to put their winger over in the corner.
Chepstow responded through their lineout, and a well worked pushover score saw them claw the game back to 7-5, and a further kicked penalty put them into an 8-7 lead.
Monmouth, starved of possession for long periods, still looked dangerous on the counter attack, and they were unlucky not to be ahead shortly before the break when another incisive run from their backline was only thwarted by an excellent scramble defence from Chepstow, which meant they maintained their lead at half time.
The second half started much like the first, again Chepstow going to their forward pack, setting up a series of mauls, including one from open play which was straight out of Italy's 6n playbook, and powering over from short range to make it 13-7.
To their credit, Monmouth did not give up, but in the last 20 minutes Chepstow's bench really made an impact, with their big ball carrying replacement centre looking particularly menacing. A line break from Chepstow's answer to Mathieu Basteraud resulted in good phase play in the 22 before going over to score out wide. 20-7.
The scores remained the same despite Chepstow pushing hard for the 4 try bonus point, while Monmouth also had a couple of chances to claw a try back which would have seen them claim a losing bonus point. The result sees Chepstow stay in the hunt for promotion to Division 2 East next season.
FT: Chepstow 20 - 7 Monmouth
The Cheesemen Drop Taff's Down the Well
While Chepstow and Monmouth were getting stuck into each other in the East of the region, Caerphilly RFC were in National Bowl action in the West and welcomed their friends from down the A468, Taffs Well RFC, to the Constructaquote Stadium. Caerphilly, currently plying their trade in Division 3 East A, are in fine league form this year and find themselves a few points off the leaders with a number of games in hand due to their bowl exploits.
This fixture had certainly benefited from some excellent promotion and a crowd of around 750 witnessed a clinical display from the green army as they raced into a 24-0 half time lead.
The Cheesemen started the second half in the same vein, adding another two scores to extend their lead to 38 - 0. Taffs Well, to their credit, did not give up and claimed a consolation score around the hour mark and a second try close to the end with the final score being 41-14 to Caerphilly.
This was a fine display against a very good Taffs Well team who themselves made it to the Principality Stadium in the same competition last year. We would like to pass on our congratulations to Caerphilly and wish them well as they fly the flag for the Dragons' region for the remainder of the competition.
FT: Caerphilly 41 - 14 Taffs Well
While there is only one Gwent representative in the Bowl, the Plate is graced with two Gwent entrants, as Penallta RFC and Abercarn RFC both came through their ties yesterday. Penallta narrowly beat near neighbours Nelson and Abercarn winning what sounded like a cracker at Pwllheli. Best of luck to both sides and here's hoping you make it an all Gwent affair in the final!
Pooler Show Where They Belong
Cardiff vs Pontypool, a mouth watering fixture regardless of context, was always going to be the pick of the club fixtures on Saturday - and it didn't disappoint, with Pontypool, currently in the Championship, claiming a famous victory over the Welsh Premiership club and, quite frankly, making a mockery of the WRU's decision to ring fence that league.
Any burglars would have a field day in Pontypool on Saturday night as what seemed like half the town had packed CAP to witness their side's win. Allegations of skulduggery were awash as Pooler officials were made to wait outside the ground until after 5pm, and fans were left queuing outside the ground due to a lack of stewarding, but it mattered not in the end as the team rose to the challenge of a Cardiff side that contained a number of full time professionals to win 43-32.
The DOSC members who did attend the game are lifelong Pooler fans and so, unsurprisingly, are yet to provide a report, but you can read a proper write up of the game on the Argus website here.
All that is left for us to say is a massive congratulations to Ben Jeffreys, Leighton Jones and all associated with the club. We wish you the very best of luck in the next round. (All Gwent affair anyone?)
Young Men of Gwent Downed By Baby Scarlets
The DOSC made their way up to Ystrad Mynach on Sunday afternoon to observe the Gwent production line as the Dragons North U16s took on their Scarlets East counterparts.
The Scarlets, coached by current player and former Wales U20 captain Steffan Hughes, started the brighter of the two teams and went into a 10-0 lead following some excellent back play and handling.
The Dragons rallied to bring the score back to 10-10, but while they were always physically competitive, a trait that one would expect from a North Gwent side, their handling let them down with passes being made either behind the runner, making him check his run, or too high or low to catch. The young Dragons worked themselves into good positions on a number of occasions but failed to turn pressure into points.
That being said, they never gave up and managed to score 4 tries and 22 points, it is just that the Scarlets managed 44 of their own to take the spoils back west with them.