17 April 2016 / Team News

Emlyn blown away by Glynneath start


After some excellent performances in recent weeks including away wins against Narberth and Newbridge, Emlyn chose the wrong day to put in their worst performance of the season on Saturday. The consequence of this loss is that they are well and truly in the mix for the second relegation spot to make an immediate return to Division One West next season. With two home games to come they are now faced with having to win both of these matches and, on Saturday’s performance, even the game against relegated Llanharan cannot be considered a ‘gimee’ win.

To their credit Glynneath played with a passion and purpose which was sadly lacking in the Emlyn side. With centre Steffan Evans being the exception, the much heralded Emlyn three-quarter line played as if they had only just been introduced to each other. The home defence were up on them very quickly in attack and pressurised them into making elementary mistakes. The forwards although winning a reasonable share of possession could not produce a lot of quality ball for Emlyn’s busy scrum half Dafydd Evans to make the best of in attack, and when they approached the Glynneath line they had a major attack of ‘white line fever’.

The game undoubtedly hinged on the first fifteen minutes and the last ten minutes, when Emlyn desperately tried to score a try which might have given them a vital bonus point. Glynneath started off like men possessed, playing down the slope they were fifteen points up after fifteen minutes. Emlyn quite simply were blown away by the directness and ferocity of the home side, marshalled by their excellent scrum half Alex Burton. They opened the scoring with a penalty from near halfway after some three minutes kicked by outside half Jack O’Riley.

Then disaster struck Emlyn when influential flanker Owain Powell had to leave the field with a hip injury to be replaced by number eight Luke Kendall. This meant some re-organisation in the Emlyn back row with Steven Leonard moving to the open side and Brynmor Jones having to play as a number six. Before Emlyn had re-settled Glynneath scored a converted try. Losing the ball against the head on the ten metre line Glynneath quickly attacked down the narrow side and Emlyn were forced to concede a touch just inside their twenty two metre line. From a shortened line out second row Ben Jones took the ball in open play and the Emlyn defence opened up for him, as the Red Sea had done for Moses and the second row cantered in under the posts without a finger being laid on him. O’Riley added the extras. They increased their lead shortly afterwards when flanker David Jones crashed over wide out from a line out.

Emlyn did attempt to come back at them but when you are not playing well things tend not to go your way. Winger Dan Davies was put away and his chip ahead bounced back way over his head.  Luke Kendall had a powerful run from half way and when he was being brought down inside their twenty two the Emlyn support wasn’t close enough to take his try scoring pass and it was knocked on. Scrum half Dafydd Evans took a quick tap penalty on the half way line and as he came up to the last defender looked to chip over his head, only the ball was kicked straight into the defenders stomach. And that summed up Emlyn’s first half.

Playing down the slope in the second half Emlyn soon got on the scoreboard courtesy of a penalty goal by Dan Davies. Ignoring the instructions of coach Marc Lloyd, Emlyn, instead of playing positional rugby and kicking down the slope to the left hand corner, opted for a series of high kicks downfield when they had to defend, which Glynneath coped with comfortably.

Glynneath increased their lead after a quarter of an hour when a combination of some excellent passing out of contact by them and some pretty poor attempts at tackles by Emlyn forwards eventually saw centre James cross for a try under the posts which O’Riley converted.

This did sting Emlyn into some sort of action but it was a case of an individual rather than a team effort. Centre Teifion Davies made a nice break to put winger Llyr Davies away, but he was tackled short of the line and Emlyn conceded a penalty at the breakdown. Steffan Evans made a number of telling breaks but lacked the support necessary to bring about the final score. Time after time powerful number eight Luke Kendall picked up from the base of a scrum and made ten or fifteen metres carrying two or three defenders with him, when the ball was recycled another forward would decide to take it on another couple of inches, often losing possession in the contact to the hard working Glynneath pack, well lead by open-side James Parry.

Approaching the last ten minutes Glynneath had a second row sin-binned for a late hit on an Emlyn player. The red and whites kicked for the corner, won the line out and for once, after two close in drives, allowed the ball to be moved wide where full back Shaun Leonard timed his entry into the line to cross for a try converted by Dan Davies.

The last few minutes proved to be frantic to say the least. Another Glynneath player was sin-binned for killing the ball, down to thirteen men they defended their line heroically. Emlyn attacked with what can only be described as white line fever by the forwards. Kendall’s surges set up rucks close to the home side’s line, all it needed was for the ball to be moved wide and a score was almost certain. Not to be, time after time the Emlyn pack took the ball on back into the Glynneath eight, they lost the ball in contact or gave away a penalty. Three times Emlyn should have scored tries and three times the ball was lost inches from the Glynneath line. On one occasion an Emlyn forward was penalised for trying to sneak the ball over the line from a ruck by trying to place the ball under the body of an Emlyn forward already over the line!! If the ball had been allowed to come out of the ruck Emlyn had a seven man overlap.

The final whistle was greeted by the home side with a great deal of justified jubilation. Some Emlyn players looked totally shell shocked at their performance. Very few came out of the game with any credit but Luke Kendall was always a threat with his powerful ball carrying, flanker Steven Leonard worked incredibly hard in his unaccustomed role as an open side flanker, and Steffan Evans continually manged to break through the home defence – if only the support had been there for him.

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