29 March 2016 / Team News

Another victory on the road


What a tense finish! In injury time the home side took the lead for the first time in the match with an excellent team try, only for Emlyn, showing tremendous grit and determination, to come back at them and clinch victory with a penalty try with the very last move of the game. The win demonstrates just how much the red and whites have improved since the start of the season, and is a credit to all the hard work done by players and coaches throughout the season.

Played in absolutely monsoon like conditions both sides attempted from the outset to defy the conditions and play running rugby. Credit must be given to the ground staff at the Welfare Ground who produced a surface which was firm underfoot even in the areas where water gathered on the surface.

Emlyn played into the elements in the first half, but instead of kicking for position the home side decided to run everything at the visitors. Unable to kick due to the strength of the wind Emlyn had to respond in kind, and the first fifteen minutes saw both sides testing each other’s defences. Promising moves broke down more often than not due to the elements, which turned the ball into a bar of soap.

The visitors, in fact, probably adapted better to the conditions with some driving forward play from the base of rucks. Ably marshalled by scrum half Mike Jones, Emlyn’s forwards showed great skill and team work in carrying the ball at the heart of the Newbridge defence. Number eight Brynmor Jones led the way and was well supported by flanker Steven Leonard and second row Ryan Morgans as they went through series after series of rucks. Credit must also go to the rest of the forwards, whose clear out work at the tackle area ensured there were very few turnovers.

The first score of the game came after some twenty minutes when, after some ten consecutive rucks and pick up and drives, Newbridge were forced to dive in and kill the ball as play had almost reached their line, and Emlyn full back Shaun Leonard kicked the penalty. Leonard in fact had another impressive game, being safe under the high ball and always looking to counter attack with the ball in hand or hoisting his own up-and-unders and more often than not catching them. 

The Emlyn pack were starting to dominate the game now and second rows Ryan Morgans and Dyfed Morgan worked well with hooker Dai Jones and began to win some very good line out ball with their two handed catching. From one line out, on his own ten metre line, Mike Jones broke through the Newbridge back row and found Ryan Morgans in support. The athletic second row surged forward and took the ball up to the home twenty two metre line, unfortunately his supporting runners were unable to hold on to what might have been a scoring pass.

From the resulting scrum Newbridge looked to clear their lines with a big kick down field through their outside half Kieron Meek. Unfortunately for him his opposite number Barry Thomas was up on him in a flash and not only charged the kick down but won the race to dive on the ball and score in the corner. Needless to say the conversion into the driving wind and rain was an impossible kick.

It was all Emlyn now as the pack took almost complete control of the game. The Emlyn front row of Jack Parry, Dai Jones and Gethin Davies started driving Newbridge backwards at scrum time, and open side flanker Owain Powell was his usual busy self in the loose. Outside half Thomas, when the ball did reach him, showed commendable control and used inside centre Steffan Evans as an effective ball carrier. Evans had another excellent game with some powerfull elusive running as he looked to link with his forwards. In defence he had to cope with Newbridge’s powerful, experienced centre Scott Williams who ran well all afternoon but was unable to completely breach the Emlyn defence.

To say the next score was against the run of play would be an understatement. Emlyn looked to move the ball wide on the half way line but instead of short passes someone decided to throw a long miss pass out to winger Dan Davies. Newbridge scrum half Lloyd Peart was the only home defender and he went for the interception, knocked the ball on and then fly hacked it forward and comfortably dived on the ball over the Emlyn line. Unfortunately for the red and whites there was one person on the field who did not see the knock on, and referee Newman awarded a try, which Meek converted.

This did not deter Emlyn and a series of powerful carries by Brynmor Jones, Ryan Morgans and Steven Leonard took play back into the home side’s twenty two. Emlyn moved the ball along their three quarter line but the last pass to winger Davies, which could have led to a try, was adjudged forward. Undeterred Emlyn continued to pressurise the home side and after another series of drives a Newbridge player was yellow carded for foul play and full back Leonard kicked the penalty to extend Emlyn’s lead.

The end of the half saw conditions worsen considerably as the rain intensified, creating puddles of water all over the field and raising the question as to whether the match would be completed. Fortunately the rain eased at the start of the second half to a heavy drizzle and, if anything, the wind dropped and changed direction to favour the home side again!  

The Newbridge side responded to the roasting they must have had from their coaches, and played with a lot more determination in the loose. With Scott Williams carrying powerfully they began to pose questions for the Emlyn defence which fortunately was more than up to the challenge. Meek narrowed the lead to just a point with a penalty after some fifteen minutes but the Emlyn pack continued to dominate the set piece. The biggest problem was trying to hold onto the ball which by now had turned into a very wet bar of soap.

Emlyn found themselves on or near the Newbridge line on a number of occasions but were unable, due to a determined home defence and the slippery ball, to convert their pressure into points. The nearest they came was through scrum half Mike Jones, who made a break from a scrum some twenty metres out but was hauled down inches from the line.

The introduction of prop Emrys Davies and hooker Alex Williams added even more weight to the Emlyn front row, and replacement scrum half Dafydd Evans combined well with Barry Thomas to pin Newbridge back in their own half. As the game went into injury time it looked as if the one point lead would have to suffice for the red and whites. However there were still another couple of twists in the game.

From a line out on the home side’s ten metre line Emlyn competed on the Newbridge throw and unfortunately tapped the ball back. Throughout the game, up to this point, the Emlyn second rows had caught the ball two handed enabling their pack to control matters. The tap back proved disastrous for Emlyn. In attempting to pick up and pass, the ball slipped out of Powell’s hands straight to a Newbridge forward. To their credit some excellent handling saw the ball moved across the field, desperate Emlyn defence wide out stopped the attack momentarily on the right wing. They re-cycled well and moved it to the opposite wing, where again Emlyn managed to halt their progress. They were not to be denied and a series of pick up and drives by the forwards eventually saw Mike Kavenagh cross for a try, converted by Meek.

With time running out Emlyn retaliated and were awarded a penalty on the twenty two metre line, which they kicked to the corner. Newbridge defended two five metre line-out drives. Emlyn were awarded a five metre scrum and went for the push over try. Newbridge wheeled the scrum and were penalised, Emlyn went for another scrum and push over try. This time Newbridge wheeled the scrum in the other direction and tried to pull the scrum towards touch. Fortunately referee Newman was having none of it and had no hesitation in awarding a penalty try which Leonard converted to give Emlyn yet another hard fought away win.




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