29 December 2015 / Team News

Impressive win for Emlyn


What a game! The famous Brewery Field ground was in perfect condition for a match with both sides intent on running the ball from all parts of the field. A great advert for Championship rugby, but what a performance by this young Emlyn side. Could this be the match that could be seen as the turning point in Emlyn’s Championship season? For the first time this season Emlyn’s defence came up to the mark and limited the opposition to just one try in an away performance which will be talked about for many a season to come. At the end of the game even the home supporters waited to applaud the Emlyn side off the field. On occasions some of the rugby played by the red and whites was as good as you will see anywhere.

The game began at a cracking pace with the early pressure being exerted on the home team’s line by Emlyn, who opened the scoring with a penalty by winger Dan Davies. Keeping the ball in hand the home side came back at Emlyn and it was the visitors turn to concede penalties, and they were fortunate that the Athletic’s centre Lewis Evans had an off day with the boot when he missed two kickable penalties.

Undeterred, Emlyn put together a sequence of forward drives and outside half Barry Thomas spotted a gap in the visitors defence on their ten metre line. The veteran half back was through the gap in a flash and as the home defence closed in on him he found prop Emrys Davies in close support. Davies was brought down five metres out in front of the posts and despite re-cycling the ball through another three rucks Emlyn were unable to cross the whitewash. The excellent referee Paul Jones from Ebbw Vale brought play back to the initial ruck and awarded Emlyn a penalty for Davies to convert. He then added another penalty some two minutes later.

Playing into a strong breeze Athletic had to run the ball at Emlyn and centre Evans proved to be a real thorn in their side. A break from inside his own half saw him clean through and running at Emlyn full back Shaun Leonard, with his left winger in support. Some intelligent defending by Leonard saw him not commit to the tackle, Evans eventually passed only to see his winger drop the ball. Leonard picked the ball up, counter attacked, and play went to the opposite corner of the field where Emlyn flanker Steven Leonard was brought down five metres from the Athletic line.

The first half continued in a similar vein with both sides making ground with ball in hand but being unable to cross each other’s line due to some fine defensive work by both teams. For Emlyn none did better than their two flankers, Owain Powell and Steven Leonard. Fresh from the Varsity match, Cambridge University student Leonard was superb in attack and especially in defence and his work rate was huge.

It was only a matter of time before the first try of the game, and surprisingly it was scored by the home side. Having worked their way upfield towards the Emlyn line the Emlyn forwards were penalised for slowing the ball down in front of their posts. Not trusting their kicker, Athletic took a quick tap penalty and two rucks later flanker and captain Sean Williams crossed for a try to open their scoring, unsurprisingly the conversion into the wind failed.

Emlyn pressurised the Athletic from a restart and under pressure their clearance kick failed to find touch on half way. Full back Leonard caught the ball, counter attacked down the right wing, some inter passing saw the ball moved infield and centre Teifion Davies beat three defenders and threw a long pass out to his co-centre Steffan Evans who had enough pace to cross in the corner for Emlyn’s first try.

From the restart, Emlyn skipper Alex Williams caught the ball, ran back at the opposition, beating a couple of players and linked with the ever present Owain Powell. Quick recycling by the pack saw the ball moved to Teifion Davies who again beat a couple of opponents. With the flying winger Llyr Jones outside him a try looked a certainty, but Davies’ final pass was just behind the winger, probably the only error the centre made all game.

Many wondered whether the nine point lead would be enough as Emlyn were facing a stiff breeze in the second half. The second half began with the Athletic laying siege to the Emlyn line with some powerful surges by their heavy pack of forwards. As a result of the Merthyr game the Emlyn pack have found some steel and defended their line really well, even managing to disrupt the home side’s driving mauls. With flankers Powell and Leonard aided by the rest of the forwards working tirelessly in defence Athletic had to work hard to secure ruck ball. Unsurprisingly it was from a turnover ball supplied by the two flankers that Emlyn’s next score came. Turned over on the Emlyn twenty two near the touchline livewire Emlyn scrum half Dafydd Evans realised the blind side was undefended by the home side. He quickly fed the supporting centre Davies who showed an excellent turn of speed in sprinting fully seventy metres, leaving three defenders in his wake, to cross under the posts for Dan Davies to add the extra points.

Bridgend Athletic came back at Emlyn from the restart and were thwarted by some excellent tackling. After some five minutes they kicked for position instead of going through the phases against a rock like Emlyn defence. The kick was caught by Leonard deep in his own twenty two area, with everyone thinking he would kick for touch, Leonard decided to run the ball straight back at the attackers. Spotting a gap in their defence the full back accelerated through the gap, tackled on the ten metre line he found his pack in close support. Number eight Brynmor Jones surged on to the ball, followed at the next ruck by captain Williams. Scrum half Evans then linked with the backs and the ball was quickly transferred to outside centre Davies. Davies beat his opponent on the outside, drew the winger towards him, and then passed one handed behind the winger’s back to Dan Davies who crossed in the corner for an unconverted try.

Emlyn now had to withstand considerable pressure from the home side as they tried to set up camp in the red and whites twenty two. Led by their back row, Emlyn’s defence proved to be impregnable. When they kicked over the top of the advancing defenders they found either Leonard or the veteran Barry Thomas there to gather the ball and not only clear their lines but look to counter attack with clever kicks into the wind.

The large Emlyn support who had made the journey up the M4 were by now wondering when the bonus point try would arrive. With fifteen minutes to go it came initially courtesy of the forwards. Led by Brynmor Jones, Steven Leonard and Alex Williams a series of drives up the right hand touchline took play up to the Athletic twenty two. Two long passes by Thomas and Steffan Evans saw the ball in Teifion Davies’s hands and he played the two versus one to perfection to put Dan Davies in at the corner for a try, this time converted from the touchline by Leonard.

The scoring was rounded off with ten minutes to go and once again it was the Leonard, Davies, Davies combination working well together. A break from inside his own twenty two by Leonard, fed on to Teifion Davies who passed to Dan Davies just outside the Emlyn twenty two. Davies still had a fair bit to do as he set off on his run, he powered through his opposite number’s attempted tackle and left the full back in his wake as he crossed for a try which he converted himself.

With time running out and darkness descending on the Brewery Field, Emlyn nearly added another score when a series of drives saw the ball moved swiftly across the line and right winger Llyr Jones looked certain to score only to be downed by a tackle from behind inches from the line.

There were a number of positives to take out of this performance, not only Emlyn’s all round improvement in defence, but also the attacking fluency of their three quarters with Teifion Davies putting in a superb performance as an outside centre. The scrum, which for so long has been a problem for the red and whites, more than held their own against heavier opponents with props Neil Elworthy and Emrys Davies improving with every match. But as coach Lloyd commented at the end there is still room for further improvement in many aspects of play especially the line out.    




There doesn't appear to be any tagged photos.

Upload and Tag Photos

You must be signed in to add comments