07 January 2018 / Team News

Merthyr dominate Cup encounter


Merthyr paid Emlyn the utmost respect in this WRU Cup fixture by fielding their most powerful side and showed why they are not only leaders of the Premiership but also favourites to complete the League and Cup double. To their credit the home side responded in the best possible fashion with a spirited performance and, when they had the ball, showed a great deal of composure when attacking against an extremely well organised and powerful defence. Out of the nine tries the visitors scored, five of them were scored right out in the corners such was the commitment shown by the home side.

There were some outstanding individual performances, with second row Bleddyn Davies, hooker Carwyn Rees and skipper Alex Williams, playing in the unaccustomed role of flanker, leading by example. To a man the Emlyn players could be proud of their efforts and after fifty five minutes the Ironmen only led by three converted tries. The inequality in size was obvious from the outset but was even more apparent when both sides used their replacements in the second half. Emlyn brought on a number of players who have been performing well for their second XV, Merthyr’s bench included ex-regional player Kristian Phillips. In fact their starting line-up was laced with players with experience of being members of a Regional squad.

The stated hope of the Emlyn coaching staff before the game was that the team would come through the match without picking up injuries ruling players out of the next two important League matches. Unfortunately for the red and whites their worst fears were realised after just five minutes when influential centre Steffan Evans had to leave the field with a knee injury, and he was immediately taken to hospital for an x-ray. All Emlyn players, coaches, and supporters will be hoping that the injury will not be as serious at it looked.

It took until the fifteenth minute before Merthyr opened their account with a try wide out by flanker Osian Davies, who caught an excellent cross kick by the visitors’ outside half, ex-Blues player Gareth Davies. The try was converted by full back Mathew Jarvis who had an excellent day with the boot, kicking seven conversions as well as scoring the final try of the match. Things looked ominous for the home side when, from the restart the ball was caught by powerful number eight Phil Rees who burst through some weak tackling before off-loading to supporting centre Josh Martin who crossed by the posts for Jarvis to convert. A stern talking to by skipper Williams saw the home defence tighten up and the red and whites became far more competitive. With scrum half Dafydd Evans directing proceedings very well Emlyn went through series after series of rucks, with the forwards and backs combining well together and took the game to the visitors.

Unfortunately the Merthyr defence proved to be impregnable and try as they might the home side failed to breach the Merthyr line. It took until the half hour mark before Merthyr extended their lead when second row Jarryd Davies supported another couple of runs by firstly captain and fellow second row Craig Lock, and number eight Phil Rees to cross by the posts for Jarvis to convert. Emlyn were not discouraged and continued to run the ball at every opportunity. A Merthyr attack broke down on the Emlyn twenty two and the ball was quickly moved to right wing Llyr Freeman, whose angled run took him infield. He linked with prop Dai Jones and then number eight Brynmor Jones and the play was eventually halted on the Merthyr ten metre line.

Buoyed by their first half performance Emlyn started the second half with a series of attacks which saw them camped for the first ten minutes in the Merthyr half of the field. The sheer physical size of the Merthyr players, combined with a pitch made heavy by a lot of recent rain, meant that threequarter moves were difficult to perform to say the least. Outside half Dyfan Dafydd went through an array of moves but was forced to resort in the end to chip kicks towards the try line corner.

There then followed quite an unusual occurrence when, for no apparent reason in loose play, Emlyn prop Dai Jones and his opposite number Rhys James engaged in a bout of fisticuffs. The number of punches thrown by both players left the excellent referee Dewi Phillips with no option, when the players were separated, but to issue a red card to each player.

Merthyr finally got onto the score sheet when, after a lovely sequence of passing out of the tackle and inter passing between forwards and backs, left wing Alex Howman crossed for a try converted by the reliable Jarvis. Entering the final quarter, Emlyn coach Marc Lloyd began to empty his bench and there were promising cameos from a number of players, some like young prop Dafydd Davies making his first team debut, along with youngsters Osian Davies and Ifan Thomas. They were joined by veteran prop Niki Williams, Emrys Davies who came on in the back row, and a welcome return from injury for outside half Mitchell Jones. Bravely as these players battled they were probably outweighed by nearly two stone a man when Merthyr emptied their bench in similar fashion.

With a certain amount of fatigue beginning to set in, the superior fitness of the Premiership side began to show. A catch and drive from a line out saw replacement hooker Richard Wilkes accredited with the try, converted by Jarvis. Outside half Gareth Davies showed all his experience and class when he put in a perfectly weighted kick for left winger, Alex Howman, to win the race for the ball and score an unconverted try in the corner. An excellent series of off-loading in the tackle saw Howman cross wide out for his third unconverted try in the corner. With time running out Merthyr added another try through centre Gavin Dacey and then the final score by Mathew Jarvis, both scores he converted from close to the touchline.

Emlyn return to League action next week when they entertain Trebanos at Dôl Wiber. The visitors are a very attractive side to watch and gave the red and whites a real lesson in running rugby when they met earlier in the season. The red and whites are playing a lot better now and hopefully they will be able to exact some revenge on their opponents.

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