19 March 2016 / Team News

Historic Derby Double Delight for Emlyn


Who would have believed at the beginning of the season that Emlyn, in their first ever foray into the Championship, would end up completing an historic double over a well-established Championship side. This is what happened on Friday night when the red and whites made the relatively short journey down to the Lewis Lloyd ground in Narberth and came away with a victory. The joy on the faces of the Emlyn players and supporters at the end was obvious. None more so than Emlyn life member Cllr. Towyn Evans, one time captain of Narberth and now one of the stalwarts of Emlyn. Emlyn, by their own admission, had been fortunate to win the first encounter in Dol Wiber but it was a completely different story on Friday night. If either of the Emlyn place kickers, Dan Davies or Shaun Leonard, had been on anything like their normal form you could have added an extra eighteen points to the final score.

The first ten minutes bore no hint of what was to come. Emlyn kicked off and, from the resultant ruck, were penalised for coming over the top. From the penalty Narberth found touch on their own ten metre line, caught and drove the line out some twenty metres. When halted they moved it fluently along their three-quarter line and with full back Johnny Morgan and right winger Jordan Roberts joining in the movement to create an overlap, resulting in Roberts crossing for an excellent try without a hand being laid on him.

The game continued at a frantic pace as both sides looked to move the ball and keep it alive. The Emlyn flankers, Owain Powell and Steven Leonard, turned over a couple of rucks and, with some elusive running by Number eight Brynmor Jones, the red and whites started to come back into the match. Shaun Leonard opened Emlyn’s account with a well struck penalty kick from wide out on the ten metre line. This kick was cancelled out almost immediately when Ianto Griffiths converted a penalty awarded against Emlyn at a scrum.

Things looked ominous for Emlyn at this early stage as Narberth, thirsting for revenge, were putting a great deal of pressure on Emlyn’s set piece. It was only through the hard work of their flankers in the loose that Emlyn were able to obtain any useful possession. However, as often happens, the passion built up in the changing rooms began to evaporate. Emlyn’s front row of props, Neil Elworthy and Emrys Davies, along with hooker Alex Williams worked hard to nullify the Narberth shove, and present lively scrum half Dafydd Evans with some ball he could use. Second rows Dyfed Morgan and Ryan Morgans managed to ensure that their bigger opponents could not get enough clean ball to set up their drives. It was in the loose though that Emlyn really dominated and, after a couple of turn overs, Narberth opted to try and halt the Emlyn flow of possession by killing the ball. Unfortunately for them the excellent referee, Elfyn Roberts, was having none of it and frequently penalised the home side for killing the ball, eventually sin binning two of the home side’s back row.

This enabled Emlyn to territorially dominate the first half but they found the Narberth defence extremely difficult to break down. Unfortunately Emlyn were unable to convert any of the penalties until the thirty second minute of the half, when Leonard added his second penalty to bring Emlyn within two points of the home team. As a result of that penalty Narberth were reduced to fourteen players when their number eight, Lewis Wood, was binned for killing the ball.

With half time approaching, the game seemed to be heading for a stalemate with the defences of both sides dominating the game. Emlyn’s only chance had come with a break out run from defence by Dan Davies but he was closed down quickly by the home defenders after a thirty metre run. Then Narberth, with a series of pick up and drives, took play into the Emlyn twenty-two only for the ball to end up on the ground when they tried to move it along the line. Quick thinking by flanker Steven Leonard saw him fly-hack the ball downfield, chasing hooker Alex Williams was first to the ball and fell on it to set up a ruck. Narberth were again penalised for trying to kill the ball, and live wire scrum half Dafydd Evans took a quick tap penalty. The home defence was disorganised and the ball ended up with Emlyn centre Teifion Davies on the half way line. The talented centre went one way, found that blocked, turned around and proceeded to almost ghost his way through the Narberth defence leaving four would-be tacklers in his wake. He crossed in the corner but proceeded to run behind the posts to make the conversion of the try a relatively simple matter for Dan Davies.

Despite having a friendly talking to from referee Roberts about remaining on their feet at the ruck, the start of the second half saw the Narberth flanker Pat Roberts binned for killing the ball. Emlyn kicked the ball into touch on the half way line, and from the line out Ryan Morgans caught the ball and the pack drove forward some five metres. The ball was moved out by Emlyn to inside centre Steffan Evans who calmly delayed a long miss pass to full back Shaun Leonard. The full back had embarked on a long curved run behind his three quarter line which meant that the Narberth defence did not pick him up. He entered the line outside the centres, drew the full back and passed inside to Teifion Davies who then fed Steven Leonard who crossed under the posts for one of the best tries scored by Emlyn this season. The try was converted by Davies to extend the visitors lead.

This try stung Narberth into action and they came back at Emlyn with great determination and power, but they reckoned without a determined and organised Emlyn defence. The line speed and organisation of the three quarters in defence, led by outside half Barry Thomas, was to be admired as they allowed Narberth no time at all on the ball. Teifion Davies, up against the experienced Steve Martin, was superb, often showing Martin the outside break and then scything him down with excellent tackles. The two Emlyn wingers, Dan and Llyr Davies, both renowned for their attacking abilities proved to be very intelligent defenders. With Narberth throwing everything at Emlyn on four occasions, the wingers came up on an opponent so quickly and executed perfect smother tackles that a potential overlap situation did not materialise. Needless to say Emlyn’s last line of defence Shaun Leonard, proved to be as reliable as ever and one tackle on Narberth scrum half Rhys Lane stopped a certain try.

Under a great deal of pressure Emlyn, for some reason when they had possession, opted to try and run it out of defence when perhaps the big boot downfield would have been the better option. Despite mazy runs by Shaun Leonard and Brynmor Jones they were unable to break out of the Emlyn half. Narberth went through series after series of forward pick up and drives to no avail. They had five metre scrums and twice Emlyn scrum half Evans was able to disrupt their possession as they lost control at the base of the scrum. Eventually the pressure told, and when second row Ryan Morgans was sin binned, Narberth scrum was rewarded with a penalty try converted by Griffiths.

Emlyn’s powerful bench now came to the fore as the fresh legs of props David Jones and Gethin Davies, along with second row Dylan Davies brought Emlyn back into the game and play moved down into the Narberth half as the final ten minutes approached. Emlyn’s best chance of adding to their score came from a line out on the half way line when Dylan Davies won some excellent ball at the back of the line. The ball was quickly fed to Steffan Evans and the centre made an incisive break but was unable to locate any support players and was brought down just short of the line.

 Coach Marc Lloyd then emptied his bench with flanker Gareth Patterson and scrum half Mike Jones also being introduced into the game. With Emlyn pinning Narberth deep in their own half the home side were forced into desperate attempts to score the try that would at least level the scores. When they tried moving the ball wide they found the line speed of the Emlyn backs, especially the two wings, snuffing out any potential attacks. When they came down the middle using their big forwards the Emlyn pack dealt with everything. Indeed, probably the tackle of the day was by Gethin Davies when giant Narberth second row Adam Clarke came thundering into him. The prop not only tackled him but drove him back some ten metres in the tackle.

Deep into injury time Narberth were still being pinned in their own half and in desperation tried moving the ball from their own line. Left winger Nick Gale reached the ten metre line only to be held up in the tackle by Dan Davies. Mike Jones, Patterson and the rest of the back row arrived far quicker than their opponents and managed to hold him up and get the turnover to seal a memorable victory for the red and whites.

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