08 April 2018 / Team News

Pooler supreme


Champions Pontypool, in their last home game of the season put on a display of attacking rugby for their supporters. The huge crowd at the iconic Pontypool Park saw their heroes demonstrate exactly why they are the, so far, unbeaten champions but also playing in a League in which they are far superior to any other side. True to their traditional Pooler roots they have a huge pack and base their game around their forwards but they also look to move the ball amongst their backs at every opportunity.

Strange as it may seem Emlyn in fact did play rather well and put in a much improved performance in comparison to some of the displays they have put together this season. Emlyn had the ball and attacked for large parts of the game as they went out with the intention of scoring four tries and obtaining a try bonus point. Unfortunately they faced a very solid, almost brick wall like, of defenders as time and again an Emlyn attacker was either stopped dead in his tracks or driven backwards in a two man tackle. Credit where credit is due they never gave up and the game ended with yet another Emlyn attack coming to a stop on the Pooler ten metre line. The score would undoubtedly have been a lot less if Emlyn had opted for a more safety first version of play and kicked the ball downfield rather than running it. The large crowd warmed to the Emlyn efforts and their applause for the Emlyn efforts at the end was both loud and generous.

Emlyn in fact started off really well and controlled play for the first fifteen minutes with some excellent passing and support play. From a line out on the Pooler twenty two the Emlyn forwards caught and drove nicely and prop Emrys Davies broke away and stormed towards the home line. Brought down short the red and whites managed to retain possession, went through some phases only for the final pass to winger Llyr Jones to be adjudged forward allowing Pooler to relieve their lines with a scrum and relieving kick.

The red and whites actually scored first through winger Dan Davies. From a scrum on the half way line the ball was moved out to Davies who showed a fine turn of speed in rounding his opposite number and sprinting for the corner for an excellent individual try which for a while silenced the crowd. Emlyn though had ‘tweaked the tiger’s tail’ and within minutes the home side had taken the lead. From a line out inside the Emlyn twenty two home outside half Kieron Meek cross kicked and fullback Tom Able gathered the bouncing ball to score a try converted by Meek who had a very fruitful day with the boot amassing a personal tally of sixteen points.

Their second try came a couple of minutes later when Emlyn were attacking in the Pooler half and a grubber kick aimed behind the onrushing defence was poorly executed. The ball in fact was kicked straight into an advancing Pooler forward who quickly transferred the ball to winger Jordan Thomas who ran some fifty metres to score a try converted by Meek. The half continued in a similar vein with Emlyn putting sustained pressure on the Pooler defence, which was ably organised by their experienced captain Rob Nash, but unable to find a way through.

On the half hour mark Pooler extended their lead with a classic catch and drive from a line out inside the Emlyn twenty two the score attributed to hooker Lewis Ball, converted by Meek. A few minutes later Emlyn spilled the ball in an attacking situation and Pooler kicked ahead with centre Joe Murray just winning the race for the touchdown, converted again by Meek. With half time approaching Meek cross kicked from a scrum inside the Emlyn half and winger Hancock caught the kick to cross on the corner for another r try converted by Meek.

With what seemed to be the last play of the half Emlyn managed to move the ball wide to winger Dan Davies on his own ten metre line. Davies somehow managed to beat his opposite number then showing great elusiveness and strength beat three more covering defenders to score an excellent individual try in the corner. Unfortunately for the red and whites the referee decided that there was a substantial amount of extra time to be added, from where nobody could fathom, and in the forty eigth minute of the half the mighty Pooler eight finally got their rewards for some excellent scrummaging when they were awarded a penalty try to bring the half to a close.

The start of the half saw Emlyn once again out of the blocks quicker that the home side and pacey winger Llyr Jones created space for himself on the outside. When the cover looked to be closing him down he sensibly kicked ahead and was unlucky when a home defender just managed to beat him to fall on the ball enabling them to set up a ruck and clear their lines. This inspired the red and whites and for the next twenty or so minutes they were in the ascendancy spending most of the time in the home sides’ half. The sheer size and physicality of the Pooler team in defence was proving impossible to break down and time and again in this period Emlyn attacks were unable to pierce the home defence.

As often happens in these circumstances the first time the home side came into the Emlyn twenty two around half way through the half saw them score. When after a series of rucks with Emlyn defending really well centre Clayton Gullis crossed for an unconverted try. The floodgates did not open and Emlyn came back at Pooler with some flowing threequarter moves and some forceful carrying by their hard working back row of Stephen Leonard, Callum Evans, and Elliot Rees. Centre Steffan Evans managed to find a way through their Pooler’s defence only to see his possible try scoring pass to outside half Mitchell Jones dropped due to Jones being cynically pulled from behind without the ball by a home defender.

The introduction of Ashley Sutton for Emlyn brought a bit of sparkle to the attack and his mazy running began to give the few travelling supporters some hope of a third try. One excellent break by Sutton saw him in a one versus one situation with their full back but the slippery underfoot conditions saw him slide into the tackler as he attempted to side step him.

The game ebbed and flowed from one end of the pitch to the other and it was the home side who eventually added to their score when a flowing movement and excellent support play saw second row Ben Sparks eventually score a try converted by Meek. Three converted tries in the last five minutes one by Sparks and two by Mike Herbert gave the final score line an inaccurate reflection of the match as the Emlyn defence finally wilted under the pressure Pooler exerted. Showing commendable spirit though the red and whites ended the game on a positive note by putting together another three quarter attack which again floundered against the brick wall which was the Pooler defence.

Taking into account the rest of the results in the Championship Emlyn have to be wary of the fact that the clubs at present below them in the league table are gradually catching them and have games in hand on them. Emlyn really do need to win one of their remaining two matches starting next Saturday with a home game against Beddau, four points from this fixture is a must for the side.



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