In a battle of undefeated conference rivals, Monmouth welcomed Union to Thompson Park for
their final home game of the regular season. Despite an undefeated record and an electric
offense, Monmouth was facing serious adversity due to injuries and absences of four starters
from the previous Saturday. Three of these positions would be filled by rookies getting their
first start for the club in league play: Lock Cole Johnson, flanker Allen Ploenes, and flyhalf Jack

The game was the type of hard hitting affair you’d expect from the rival clubs, with the packs
going head to head early and often in contact. Monmouth jumped out to an early 5-0 lead off a
strong defensive scrum that dislodged the ball allowing Captain Kieran Walsh to scoop the
loose ball and make a short dive over the tryline. The scrum has been a strong point all season
led by led by veterans Frank Bricker and Donny Palmer, as well as newcomer Lopeti Tuipulotu
manning the front row.

Shortly after, fullback Nick Wallace continued his 3 game try scoring streak off a long backline
play to put Monmouth up 12-0. The try was converted by rookie lock and first time kicker Junior
Aiono. Aiono went 2 for 3 in his first day on the job to go along with several of his trademark
line breaking runs.

Center Vallon Adams scored the first of his two tries with a hard charge right up the middle of
the field to put Monmouth up 17-0. As to be expected, Union did not lay down and let the
game become a route. Despite strong running and tackling by Monmouth, penalties and some
questionable decision making allowed Union to close the gap to 17-14 by the 50 th minute mark.
Just when it seemed the tide had fully turned in Union’s favor, strong defense and support led
to offense as Vallon Adams took home his second try after several strong phases of pack on
pack play inside Union’s 5 meter line. Aiono the conversion to put Monmouth up 24-14 with
less than 20 mintues to play.

Not content to go quietly, Union notched another try to make it 24-19. With less than 10
minutes to play and divisional supremacy on the line, both teams dug in for a tense, violent,
and exhilarating last ditch effort. With less than 2 minutes to play, Union regained possession
inside the 50 meter line and began a slow, methodical final push to try to snatch victory from
the jaws of defeat. Just as it seemed like their offense was getting into rhythm, rookie Jack
Connors stripped their ball carrier during a tackle to regain possession for Monmouth. Aiono
made a miraculous 20 meter kick to touch with multiple Union players on his back to ice the

In a game with many highlights, the real revelation were the new players who stepped
seamlessly into their positions and played huge parts in the victory. Allen Ploenes was awarded
man of the match due in large part to his strong tackling and support at the breakdown all 80
minutes. In addition to his game sealing steal, Jack Connors commanded the offense like a 10
year veteran and not a first time starter. Cole Johnson made an impact in open play and set
pieces throughout his time on the field. Rookie wingers Eddie Connors and Shea McDowell were able to come off the bench in the 2 nd half and use their athleticism to give the offense the
spark it needed.

Monmouth moves to 3-0 and sole possession of first place in the division with an away game
against Morris next Saturday, 10/01/2022.