25 October 2015 / Team News

Vital away win for Emlyn


What a victory! In as tense a finish as anyone could imagine Tata Steel outside half Steve Lewis lined up a penalty kick at goal from some thirty five metres into the wind to win the game for the steelmen. Fortunately the kick, driven low and hard, was held up by the wind, caught by Shaun Leonard who kicked it out and the final whistle was blown to bring about an unexpected but important away win for Emlyn. The Emlyn squad ravaged by injury took the field with Dyfed Morgan being the only recognised second row forward. Already deprived of the services through injury of Arwel Davies, Gethin Greves, and Bleddyn Davies, Emlyn’s Director of Rugby, Marc Lloyd, then lost second rows Dan Havard and Chris Ludgate in a training ground collision, which led to them both being hospitalised, on Thursday night. Fortunately giant tight head prop Xabier Garmendia can play second row as well and he was pressed into action in his final game for Emlyn.

Playing into the wind in the first half Emlyn again found themselves trailing by ten points after less than ten minutes. Despite an aggressive opening, Emlyn lost a line out in the home side’s half, they then made a mess of collecting the clearance kick. From the resulting scrum the home side went through a series of rucks before flanker David Griggs crossed for a try converted by Lewis. Lewis then added a penalty shortly after and it looked as if the red and whites were going to have another mountain to climb in the second half in order to get back into the game.

It was not to be though, as they showed tremendous character and skill to work their way up field. From a line out inside the Tata half won by Morgan, the ball was driven up to the twenty two metre line. To everybody’s surprise Emlyn winger Dan Davies appeared in the scrum half position. He spotted that Tata had not defended close to the ruck, picked up the ball and sprinted some twenty metres to score a try which he converted with the ball going in via the post.

The short pitch, strong wind and a firm surface combined to make playing with the wind a more difficult proposition than playing into it. A few early positional kicks by Tata went out on the full and Emlyn suffered a similar problem in the second half when the siege gun boot of Shaun Leonard meant that he could kick the length of the field and on one occasion the ball only just stopped short of the Tata dead ball line.

The return from suspension of the mercurial Leonard had an uplifting effect on the Emlyn side and the next try was a typical piece of Leonard skill and audacity. Tata kicked long downfield, Leonard caught the ball just outside his own twenty two and proceeded to counter attack. Suddenly he was past the first two opposition players, shrugged off another attempted tackle and went over under the posts for a try converted by Davies to give Emlyn the lead.

Tata came straight back at Emlyn and some excellent defending led by flankers Gethin and Bedwyr Davies managed to keep the steelemen out until outside half Lewis kicked another penalty to bring them within a point of the visitors. Emlyn were not deterred by this and with veteran outside half Barry Thomas marshalling his three quarter line they took the game to the home side.

Emlyn’s third try came on the half hour mark and came initially from a surge downfield by prop Gethin Davies who flicked a pass out of the back of his hand to his supporting runners. Quick ball from the resultant ruck saw Leonard run a lovely angle off outside half Thomas to cross by the posts for his second try which Davies converted. From the restart again poor play by Emlyn saw them penalised and Lewis kicked a relatively simple penalty.

With half time approaching Emlyn again went through an impressive series of rucks, keeping control of the ball and making Tata Steel defend their line desperately. The last word of the half had to go to Leonard, who calmly dropped a goal to extend Emlyn’s lead to eight points.

With the wind at their backs the Emlyn coaches were well aware that it could prove to be a disadvantage making fluent three quarter play difficult with the ball being blown away from the attackers. When Tata eventually emerged from their changing room it was the red and whites who started positively. An excellent restart kick saw Tata panic under pressure and Emlyn skipper Alex Williams was unlucky to knock the bouncing ball on as he tried to gather it to score. From the resulting scrum Tata number eight James Locke picked up the ball looking to drive up field away from his line. He reckoned without Emlyn flanker Gethin Davies who not only tackled him, he drove him backwards, ripped the ball from him and fell over the line for Emlyn’s fourth try converted by Davies.

The first twenty minutes of the half belonged to Emlyn and they were unlucky not to score a fifth try when flanker Gethin Davies just failed to gather a pass from impressive number eight Brynmor Jones with the line at his mercy. Then a well executed backs move saw Leonard tackled short of the line and Tata were penalised at the resultant ruck allowing Davies to extend Emlyn’s lead.

Tata Steel now brought on their bench and they certainly galvanised the home side into action. Scrum half Pritchard and player coach Liam Gadd brought a greater sense of purpose and penetration to their three quarter line. In the forwards the front row saw the introduction of a couple of veterans who managed to consistently wheel the Emlyn scrum and disrupt their ball. It was in this facet that Emlyn number eight Jones excelled, picking up the ball and driving forward all the time.

A nice break by Pritchard saw him find his half back partner Lewis on his shoulder and the number ten crossed for a try which he converted. From the restart Tata were penalised on their twenty two metre line but Davies just missed with his penalty kick. Buoyed by this miss the home side decided to run everything at Emlyn and added another try wide out through centre Richard Carter. Emlyn found themselves struggling to maintain possession for any period of time and put themselves under unecessary pressure by losing the ball in contact on a couple of occasions.

From the restart Tata sensed that Emlyn were starting to struggle to keep them out and only some desperate last ditch tackles by Barry Thomas, Joel James and Callum Evans kept them out. Well into injury time replacement Gadd crossed in the corner for another try, the conversion failing due to the strength of the wind, to bring the home side within a point of Emlyn. Then came the final drama with everyone’s hearts in their mouths as Lewis attempted to win the game for the home side.


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