20 September 2015 / Team News

Emlyn come close second


This proved to be another frustrating encounter for the followers of the red and whites with the home side for the second consecutive week being unable to cut down on their error count and eventually losing an encounter they could and should have won.

Bridgend Athletic have developed a very close relationship with the Premiership side Bridgend even to the extent of this season playing their home matches at the Brewery Field. On their first visit to Emlyn for a number of seasons their side was strengthened by the inclusion of a few Premiership players and they started the game with discipline and determination. Indeed for the second week running it was the visiting side that took the game to the home side when normal expectation would be for the home side to exert initial pressure.

In perfect playing conditions the visitors put the Emlyn line under pressure with a series of drives and rucks which eventually after just five minutes led to Bridgend Athletic flanker Ben Howe crossing for an excellent team try converted by full back Lewis Evans. A few minutes later Evans was just wide with a long range penalty attempt as the visitors kept the home side pinned in their own half.

In fact it took Emlyn until the quarter of an hour mark before they were able to put anything constructive together. Powerful Emlyn number eight Luke Kendall surged through some weak Athletic tackling and some quick handling by the Emlyn backs saw them cross the line only for the final pass to be adjudged forward by referee Dewi Phillips from Aberystwyth.

Emlyn started to play with greater authority now but their attempts to win quick ruck ball were being constantly thwarted by the visitors entering the rucks from the side to kill the ball. Eventually referee Phillips lost patience and yellow carded Bridgend Athletic winger Alex Fenton, allowing Emlyn full back Dan Davies to convert the subsequent penalty.

Being reduced to fourteen men seemed to inspire the visitors and with scrum half, Jake Williams, dictating events behind his pack, Emlyn were forced to defend for long periods. Opting to kick to touch rather than take a penalty kick the visiting forwards executed a perfect catch and drive which Emlyn were slow to defend and prop Wayne Foolkes was accredited with the try converted by Evans.

The first half was proving to be an extremely frustrating affair with the home side struggling to gain any worthwhile first phase possession for their speedy backs to use. The normally reliable Emlyn line out just did not function and time and again Bridgend Athletic managed to pinch what should have been Emlyn ball. Indeed it was not until the end of the half that Emlyn won clean ball at a lineout. Were it not for the excellent work of Emlyn flanker Steven Leonard at the ruck the home side would have been completely starved of the ball for long periods.

From one such turnover just inside Emlyn’s twenty two, livewire scrum half Dyfan Dafydd spotted a potential overlap on the right hand side of the field. Two quick passes saw the ball in the hands of right winger Llyr Jones. Showing an excellent turn of speed the winger rounded his opposite number and outstripped the covering defence to sprint seventy five metres to score an excellent unconverted try on the stroke of half time. It summed up Emlyn’s performance when the next time Jones touched the ball was deep into the second half.

Emlyn started the second half in an extremely positive mood and a fine break by outside half Steffan Evans unfortunately came to nothing as he was unable to locate his outside backs and opted to kick ahead enabling the cover defence to win the race to minor the ball.

The Athletic were quick to counter attack and one such movement down the right hand side of the pitch nearly led to a try for centre Chris Price but he was just unable to gather the bouncing ball cleanly. Emlyn responded from the subsequent scrum when number eight Kendall picked up and took play up to the half way line with another powerful run. Unfortunately the rest of the forwards were unable to support him quickly enough to carry on the movement.

The scrum area proved to be problematic for both sides throughout the whole game with both sides being penalised on a regular basis for wheeling the scrum. The introduction of powerful loose head Jack Parry did steady Emlyn’s scrum to some extent. Coach Lloyd also brought on veteran second row Arwel Davies and Emlyn began to win some clean line out ball.

The biggest problem Emlyn then had was what they did with the ball. Time and again the ball was recycled and carried on by the Emlyn forwards when it needed to be moved wide to expose the lack of pace on the visitors wings. In Llyr Jones and Dan Davies, now having moved out to the left wing, Emlyn had match winners but chose to ignore them until the dying moments of the game.

With defences now on top both sides found it difficult to penetrate the opposition’s line and try scoring opportunities were few and far between for most of the half. With referee Phillips being vigilant around the ruck area the Athletic extended their lead half way through the half with a penalty by Evans. With time running out Emlyn’s inability to give the ball to their wingers was frustrating the watching crowd. Twice opportunities to both wingers away were spurned as someone looked to set up another phase allowing the visitors time to reorganise themselves.

When they had the ball the Athletic were ready to counter attack and work their way downfield. When replacement prop Jack Parry was yellow carded for a no arms tackle full back Evans extended the Athletic lead with a very well struck penalty. From the restart the ball was regathered by Emlyn and the ball ended up Llyr Jones’ hands and the flying winger was brought down metres short of the line and the Athletic gratefully kicked the ball to touch.

From the ensuing lineout the Athletic stopped a powerful surge around the front by flanker Joel James. Emlyn recycled the ball well and the huge Basque prop Xabier Garmendia powered his way over the line for a try converted by Dan Davies. This brought Emlyn within a potential losing bonus point which probably was just about what they deserved but the Athletic had other intentions and wanted to add to their score.

Once again Emlyn tried to play the ball out of their own twenty two and turned the ball over. From the resulting ruck the Emlyn defenders were penalised for offside but Evans missed a relatively easy kick at goal. He made amends a couple of minutes later when Emlyn centre Alun Howells was yellow carded for a grapple tackle allowing Evans to extend the Atheltic’s lead to eight points.

Despite being down the thirteen men and deep into injury time Emlyn, roared on by their supporters, caught the restart used the pace of winger Davies on the blind side and camped on the Athletic’s twenty two. A series of drives and quick recycles saw the home side attempt to move the ball out to the right wing. This was thwarted by the Athletic defence but referee Phillips ruled that they had encroached offside and Dan Davies stepped up to convert the penalty to give Emlyn a losing bonus point with the final kick of the match.



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