18 December 2016 / Team News

Emlyn battle to the end


Since their elevation to the Championship local derbies have become a thing of the past for Emlyn. Saturday’s match against Narberth was the closest that came to being a derby game due mainly to the fact that these are the only two sides west of the Loughor bridge who are in the Championship. Narberth are having an excellent season and are deserving of their second place in the league, the red and whites are having an inconsistent season blighted by injuries and unavailability of players. As an example coach Marc Lloyd has been unable to select the same midfield trio on consecutive Saturday’s and last Saturday was no exception with Llyr Jones moving from the wing to the centre to partner Tomi Jones with Richard Hope playing at outside half.

However there is one thing about the red and whites, the tougher the challenge the better they respond to it and Saturday proved to be no exception. They took the game to the home side from the first whistle and were unfortunate not to come away with at least a losing bonus point. That they did not was due firstly to a determined organised Narberth defence and mistakes by the visitors when in prime attacking positions. Tight games such as these are often determined by a couple of errors and, with the score standing at eleven points to six twenty minutes into the second half, a rush of blood to the head by Emlyn replacement prop Jack Parry saw him shoulder charge Narberth full back James Stephenson well after he had kicked the ball downfield.  Referee Bessant had no hesitation in sin binning Parry and awarding the penalty kick where the ball landed some ten metres from the Emlyn line.

Despite some determined Emlyn defence in halting at least four forward drives and then snuffing out a dangerous backs move, unfortunately a high tackle led to another penalty. The Otters again went to the line out from the kick and this time worked a lovely little move. With everyone expecting another series of forward drives and the forwards setting themselves for a drive, the ball was passed out to replacement outside half Jonathan Rogers who ran at the Emlyn line and, when he was about to be tackled, he slipped the ball to supporting centre Jack Price who forced his way over for a try converted by winger Nick Gale.

Emlyn’s inability to convert pressure into points proved vital. They started off positively and took the game to the home side with some ferocious drives yielding a penalty kick after five minutes which winger Dan Davies converted. Narberth did reply some five minutes later when the normally reliable Nick Gale missed a relatively simple penalty kick only to be given a second chance from the restart when Emlyn were penalised for obstruction, allowing Gale to bring the scores level with a kick from the half way line.

The first thirty minutes of the half belonged to the red and whites who put the Narberth line under a great deal of pressure. Forwards Emrys Davies, Joel James, Luke Kendall and captain Alex Williams carried the ball extremely well but Emlyn were just unable to cross the whitewash. After twenty minutes Emlyn were awarded a penalty right out on the touchline five metres from the Narberth line, when the home side were again penalised for not rolling away after a tackle. Skipper Williams elected to go to touch and Emlyn set themselves up for a line out with number eight Kendall acting as scrum half. Whatever the planned move was we shall never know as a complete breakdown in communication meant Narberth were able to clear their lines. Emlyn then lost the next line out enabling Narberth to cross the half way line for the first time in a long while.

The respite did not last as the red and whites, with scrum half Mike Jones probing behind his pack, soon returned to the Narberth twenty two area and Dan Davies converted another penalty from the twenty two metre line. From the restart a lovely break from the half way line by full back Shaun Leonard took play back up to the Narberth line and it was only some desperate defending that kept Emlyn out. After a series of rucks Leonard dropped deeper behind one and was only just wide with a dropped goal attempt.

This seemed to spur the home side and a strong run by inside centre Reyland took play into the Emlyn half where the visitors were penalised and Gale, against the run of play, brought the score level with another penalty goal. Growing in confidence the Narberth three quarters, led by their centres Reyland and Jack Price, began to run aggressively at the Emlyn defence. Emlyn centres Tomi and Llyr Jones had their work cut out defending against the speedy Narberth centres. Even then it looked as if the Emlyn defence was capable of keeping them out when quite unexpectedly Price received the ball outside the Emlyn twenty two and ran strongly to brush off some three would be tacklers to score the game’s first try. To add to Emlyn’s woes skipper Alex Williams got stretchered off with a leg injury sustained at the beginning of the move to be replaced by Neil Elworthy.

Encouraged by this Narberth threw everything at Emlyn for the last few minutes of the half and it was only some desperate defending that kept the home side at bay. The Emlyn back row of Kendall, James and Gareth Thomson worked really hard and backed up the efforts made by the three quarters. Emlyn were relieved to hear the half time whistle, with no further addition to the score. 

The second half followed a similar pattern to the first with Emlyn taking the game to Narberth at every opportunity. Dan Davies just missed with a long range penalty attempt at the start of the half. Two potential overlap chances were squandered due to a poor final pass. With Narberth looking to counter attack it took a thunderous tackle on their full back Stephenson by Luke Kendall to halt an almost certain try for the home side.

Approaching the half way mark of the half it looked as if the score would remain as it was as both sets of defences were dominating the match. Then came the Parry moment of madness. To their credit this inspired Emlyn to even greater efforts and they really pressurised Narberth despite only having fourteen players on the field.

Centre Llyr Jones was desperately unlucky not to score a try when, from a scrum, the backs executed an unusual move only for the centre to have the ball knocked from his grasp by two tacklers as he crossed the line. Replacement scrum half Dafydd Evans started to utilise the blind side well and back rower Brynmor Jones had two powerful carries taking play up to the Narberth line. Unfortunately a poor decision by the scrum half saw him attempt a grubber kick into the in goal line metres from the line only to see the ball cross the dead ball line. With time running out Emlyn were awarded another penalty kick and went for touch ten metres out. Unfortunately yet another prime attacking position was wasted when again mis-communication saw the ball being thrown in and no Emlyn forward jumping for the ball allowing Narberth to clear their lines.





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