21 January 2018 / Team News

Emlyn truimph in the mud


The smiles on the faces of the Emlyn players and supporters at the end of the game said it all. Bearing in mind their League position, the win was important to the red and whites but it was undoubtedly the manner of the victory that gave them greater satisfaction. They were controlled and accurate in everything they did in quite difficult conditions as the rain, which only stopped just before the kick off, turned the pitch into a muddy morass. The final score could have been greater but, on at least two occasions in the second half, a decisive break by an Emlyn player saw the final try scoring pass given to a Glynneath player, as it was impossible to determine what colour shirt a number of players were wearing.

Playing up the slope in the first half, the red and whites started positively and for the first fifteen minutes pressurised the home defence from every phase of play. However, the nearest they came to scoring was from a powerful run by second row Dyfed Morgan who was brought down some five metres short of the line. Morgan, in fact, had probably his best game of the season with some excellent two handed takes in the line out as well as showing admirable discipline in the loose, allied to some powerful running.

When Glynneath eventually got out of their half it was not for long, as outside half Mitchell Jones quickly pinned them back in their half with some accurate kicking from hand. In his first start since recovering from injury the youngster showed his potential with a fine all round performance until he had to leave the field with a nose injury in the second half. His half back partner Dafydd Evans also turned in a first class performance and controlled matters really well behind his pack of forwards.

One had to wait until nearly the half hour mark before the opening score of the game, and it followed a period of sustained pressure by the visitors. An excellent run from full back Ashley Sutton, linking well with winger Llyr Freeman, took play into the Gynneath twenty-two. From the ruck mobile prop Emrys Davies broke through the first line of defence and cleverly fed scrum half Evans who dived over for the first try of the game, well converted out of the mud by Mitchell Jones.

From the restart the Emlyn forwards ran the ball back at the home side, with open side Owain Powell making an excellent break from the half way line. Unfortunately he did not see prop Davies outside him and, as he approached the twenty two, he cross kicked instead of passing to Davies. From the kick a ruck formed and the home side were penalised, allowing Mitchell to extend the Emlyn lead with a penalty goal. Gaining in confidence Emlyn again ran the restart back at the home side and set up camp in the home half. Powerful runs from flanker Joel James, number eight Jack Mason, second row Morgan, and skipper Alex Williams had the home defence at full stretch to keep them out. With Evans controlling matters Emlyn did not make the mistake of over committing numbers to the break down and he always had runners waiting to carry the ball. It was no surprise when the home side, as half time approached, were once again penalised and Jones extended Emlyn’s lead with another penalty kick.

The start of the second half saw the Emlyn malaise which has haunted them all season return, conceding needless penalties in the loose. Three in the space of five minutes meant that the initiative was handed back to the home side. Fortunately their defence stood firm and the boot of Mitchell Jones ensured the home side did not come too close to the Emlyn line. Emlyn centres Steffan Evans and Teifion Davies closed down the dangerous home backs quickly and when they tried kicking over the top they found winger Llyr Freeman and Ashley Sutton up to the task of dealing with any potential threat.

The tempo of the game changed on the fifty minute mark when Emlyn outside half Jones had to leave the field with a nasty looking facial injury. The Emlyn back line was reshuffled with Steffan Evans moving to outside half, Llyr Jones moving into the centre, and Mike Jones coming on to the wing. Not known for his kicking Evans decided that given the conditions his best option when he had the ball was to go straight at his opposite number and this he did with telling effect.

With Morgan supplying a steam of quality line out ball, Evans caused havoc in the home defence and it was probably only the deteriorating conditions that kept the score down. Twice Evans went straight at his opposite number and burst through. On the first occasion he linked with forwards Morgan and Williams but Williams’ scoring pass went to a player coated in mud who happened to be a defender rather than an attacker! The second occasion Evans was brought down ten metres short of the line as he looked around trying to identify one of his team to pass to.

It was all Emlyn now and coach Lloyd brought on fresh legs in the pack with second row Dylan Davies and prop Ifan James, and there were cameo performances from these two which maintained Emlyn’s momentum. On the half hour mark, from a line out on the Emlyn twenty two, Evans carried the ball strongly, bursting through two tacklers, when defenders began closing him down he cleverly chip kicked ahead rather than risk a pass. It was Mike Jones, now playing at scrum half, who rose above the defenders to catch the ball and feed supporting prop Emrys Davies. The big prop needed no second invitation to score and he sprinted twenty metres to round off an excellent seventy metre move to score the try, converted by Ashley Sutton.

 To their credit the home side never gave up and had the last word, when replacement prop James Vardon manged to crash over from a ruck near the Emlyn line for a try, converted by Jack O’Reilly and with that kick excellent referee Chris Oliver blew the whistle to bring the mud bath to a satisfactory conclusion for the red and whites.

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