26 November 2016 / Team News

Poor Emlyn performance


As score line’s go this was definitely a true reflection of what was a pretty dire performance by the red and whites on what was an almost perfect day for rugby. Playing conditions were as near to perfect as you could expect at the end of November, the only mitigating factor was that the pitch was heavy as the overnight frost thawed making the going somewhat sticky underfoot. The condition of the pitch could not really be offered as an excuse by the home side, after two superb performances against Pontypool and Bedlinog the large crowd turned up expecting to see a display of attacking rugby. Instead they were treated to a home side performance which on occasions lacked any sort of game management and was littered with basic errors.

To their credit Skewen came with a definite game plan and stuck to it. Their flankers Mogford and Dunsford were powerful and aggressive in the ruck and maul, and outside half Buselli gave Emlyn a lesson in game management especially in the latter stages of the match as Skewen pressed for the winning score. It was the visitors who started the more positively and the first ten minutes of the match was played exclusively in the Emlyn half. This is not the first time that Emlyn have been slow starters at home and it is something for each individual player to think about, their consistency of performance especially at home. Emlyn’s defence was sound in this period and all Skewen had to show for their efforts was a penalty goal kicked by Buselli.

The game settled into a certain dull rhythm with neither side able to get any real attacking momentum going and defences dominating play. It took Emlyn almost twenty minutes to get a strong foothold in the Skewen half and after a series of drives by the forwards it was no surprise when the ball was eventually knocked on by an Emlyn player. Territorially Emlyn dominated the rest of the half, but the visitors defence was organised and disciplined, not conceding a penalty during this period.

Emlyn’s attacking opportunities were limited, second row Dan Havard led the way with a number of powerful runs, one of which took Emlyn close to the line and a clever cross kick for winger Llyr Jones saw the ball taken by his opposite number who eluded Llyr’s tackle, and his counter attacking run was halted by a good tackle on the ten metre line by flanker Gareth Thomson. Outside half Barry Thomas made two excellent breaks but the Skewen cover defence was determined and both opportunities were lost.

Playing towards the clubhouse in the second half the Emlyn support hoped that the half time team talk might galvanise the side into action and the home side started positively. They were awarded a penalty some thirty five metres out more or less in front of the posts but winger Dan Davies pulled his effort just wide of the posts. From the restart Emlyn flanker Gareth Thomson was accidentally knocked out and his departure led to a re-shuffle in the Emlyn pack with Luke Kendall coming on at number eight and Brynmor Jones moving across to play on the flank.

The early part of the half saw the red and whites again dominating territorially but unable to breach the visitors defence. The second half could be best summed up by Emlyn being their own worst enemies with a number of promising attacking positions being wasted through an inability to control territory or possession. Emlyn’s line out did improve as the game went on but it was not as reliable as it had been in Bedlinog and remains a source of concern.

Twice Emlyn got themselves into good attacking opportunities but failed to capitalise on them. From one of them Skewen counter attacked and their left winger Mark Harvey was only denied a certain try by some excellent covering back by Dan Davies who manged to fall on the ball metres from the Emlyn line. Shaun Leonard eventually did put Emlyn on the scoreboard with a well struck penalty kick from some forty metres out, but gradually it was the visitors who began to take control of the game.

The heavy underfoot conditions meant that length of the field attacks were not really an option for either side, and the game became a battle between the two packs of forwards and exerting pressure through territorial occupation. It was in this facet of play that the visiting outside half Buselli came into his own, not the longest kicker but accurate as time and again he pinned Emlyn back into their own twenty two metre area. Emlyn’s kickers on the other hand time and again either chose the wrong type of kick or put the ball out on the full with their attempts to gain territory and it is a game they will want to forget quickly.

The last quarter was played almost exclusively in the Emlyn half and as the clock ran down the pressure exerted by Skewen looked certain to bring them what would have been the winning score. However Emlyn’s defence, with flanker Joel James to the fore, stood firm. James in fact was comfortably Emlyn’s best player with his powerful runs and crunching tackles.  Emlyn’s line out also improved with hooker Alex Williams finding Ryan Morgans, enabling the clearing kick to be used to move the home side out of their twenty two on numerous occasions.

With time running out Emlyn did eventually win a line out just inside their half and Joel James started a forward surge carried on by replacement prop Jack Parry which eventually led to Emlyn being awarded a penalty on the Skewen ten metre line some forty plus metres out. Up stepped Leonard but unfortunately the full back’s kick just went wide of the post.

Spectators were glad to hear excellent referee Andrew Davies blow the final whistle on what was one of the most disappointing, lack lustre Emlyn performances of the season. One can only hope for a huge improvement next week when they travel to Cardiff to play the students of Cardiff Met. 

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