09 September 2018 / Team News

Abject performance by Emlyn


In this their fourth season in the Championship Emlyn probably played their worst ever game on Saturday against a spirited and committed Rhydyfelin side.  Everything the home side were, the red and whites were not as they were given a lesson, which one hopes they will absorb, in commitment, attitude, and the ability to react to what happens on the field, things which no amount of coaching can teach. Rhydyfelin’s game plan was the same as it was last season, when the red and whites beat them twice, kick for position using the siege gun boot of full back David Gratton, and then attack close to the forwards. When it came to defending they were ferocious in the contact area and basically their pack bullied the Emlyn forwards for the whole game. Emlyn, on the other hand, played like a bunch of individuals and the body language of a number of forwards as the game progressed left a great deal to be desired. Commitment and attitude to the cause is something that has to come from the individual and then be transferred to the team ethic to produce a performance on a Saturday. That at present does not seem to be happening.

Playing into a strong wind and driving rain Emlyn were soon pinned back into their twenty two by Gratton. To their credit they attempted to run the ball out of defence and this ploy might have worked for them early in the game if the couple of opportunities that arose had been capitalised upon. Instead when it cried out for the ball to be moved quickly from the base of the ruck, Emlyn scrum half Dafydd Evans declined to pass until his whole back line had reorganised, unfortunately that allowed Rhydyfelin the time to spread their defence and the opportunities were lost. Emlyn’s cause was not helped when, after some five minutes play, winger Dan Davies was injured in a tackle and had to leave the field to be replaced by Mike Jones.

Emlyn’s defence proved to be solid in this opening period as they managed to halt a succession of forward surges by the home side. However, when they did have the ball they tried to work their way up field but every Emlyn attack floundered when someone knocked the ball on, the home side immediately fed the ball back to Gratton who kicked the ball back deep into the Emlyn twenty two. Gratton eventually got the home side on the board with a well struck penalty kick after some twenty two minutes.

When what looked like a perfectly good try for the home side, from a catch and drive, was disallowed Emlyn, at the resultant five metre scrum. shoved Rhydyfelin off the ball at the rate of knots. The few supporters present then felt that it could be a turning point and Emlyn would start to dominate up front. Unfortunately that was it, the rest of the scrums during this half saw the Emlyn front row penalised for standing up when the drive came on, and then complaining that Rhydyfelin were driving illegally upwards instead of scrummaging forcefully against them to negate the illegal drive.

The line out also proved to be a problem area for Emlyn with skipper Alex Williams having to shoulder a lot of the blame with some wayward throwing. He was not alone, with the jumpers having to also take some responsibility with some of the lineout calls and on occasions some terrible flapping of the ball back to the scrum half. Symptomatic of the Emlyn forwards display was their complete inability to realise that when Rhydyfelin threw into the line out they threw to the same man every time! More often than not Emlyn did not compete and when they did the jumpers were hoisted up nowhere near where the ball was thrown to.

It was possibly not all doom and gloom in the first half as Emlyn did have a couple of scoring opportunities. The first came from a line out five metres from the home side’s line, the catch and drive didn’t work but Emlyn began to work their way through some phases with the forwards driving on. Unfortunately patience and composure was sadly lacking and an Emlyn forward conceded a penalty for entering a ruck from the side. They had another two opportunities, in the first instance fly half Lennon kicked the ball dead when aiming for touch. On the second occasion skipper Williams opted to go for goal with a penalty kick, rather than position in the corner, but the attempt into the wind and rain from wide proved too much for Lennon. As half time approached Rhydyfelin finally managed to cross the Emlyn line when, from a line out five metres out, they caught and drove the ball for hooker Pritchard to be attributed with the touch down, converted by Gratton.

Despite playing with the elements in the second half matters deteriorated at a rapid rate for Emlyn. When they had the ball the Emlyn three quarters continued to try and run the ball at their opponents, instead of hoofing the ball downfield for an attacking position deep in Rhydyfelin’s twenty two. Rhydyfelin’s defence was nothing if not committed and their outstanding flanker Studley proved to be the king of the contact area for them. When they had the ball the forwards picked up and drove effectively, prompted by their lively scrum half Garyn Lucas. The home side extended their lead when, following a series of drives, Lucas hoisted an up and under in Emlyn’s twenty two and, when no one from Emlyn made a determined effort to catch the ball, centre Chris Tottle caught the kick and strolled over for an unconverted try.

Things went from bad to worse when Rhydyfelin declined a penalty kick at goal and went for position instead. From the line out Emlyn halted the drive, but Lucas darted around the blind side and put in a grubber kick over the line. He possibly might have scored, although the in-goal area was very small, but Emlyn flanker Gareth Thomson pulled the scrum half back. Referee Simon Rees had no option but to award a penalty try and sent Thomson to the sin bin for ten minutes.

This seemed to galvanise Emlyn and, following a powerful run by number eight Brynmor Jones, they put together a series of attacks at the Rhydyfelin line. Some desperate home defending kept the red and whites out and it came as no surprise when the pressure was eventually lifted when Emlyn conceded a penalty at a ruck inside Rhydyfelin’s twenty two. Scenting the chance of a fourth bonus point try the home side put together series after series of attacks. Emlyn’s policy of running back any possession gained, instead of kicking deep downfield, did them no favours at all as they invariably knocked the ball on in the tackle to gift possession back to the home side. Eventually they did get their bonus point try, although it was rather fortunate to say the least, as referee Rees awarded the try to number eight Lewis James before the player had actually put the ball down and when he did he knocked the ball on. The try was converted by Gratton.

When the final whistle went the air of despondency around the Emlyn support was huge as they all agreed that it was one of the worst performances they had seen for a long time. The next two games will certainly be challenging for the red and whites and if there is a repeat of this performance they will be humiliated.

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