26 March 2017 / Team News

Important five points for Emlyn


On a beautiful spring afternoon Emlyn played their first home match at Dol Wiber since the 7th January and for the first half they played with a great deal of authority and skill and dominated a Bedlinog side who responded extremely well in the second half. The Emlyn first half performance was a joy to watch. The forwards dominated the set pieces, drove well in the loose and recycled the ball expertly. The three quarters attacked accurately, linking well with the rampaging Emlyn forwards in the loose. All this combined pressure forced the visitors into a number of handling errors when they had possession which meant Emlyn gained a fourth bonus point try by the half hour mark.

Coaches Marc Lloyd, Arwel Davies and Charles Gale were delighted with the first half performance. Unfortunately the same could not be said of the second half with Bedlinog, to their credi,t coming back into the game and showing what a classy outfit they are, with a performance which was almost a carbon copy of Emlyn’s first half. Fortunately for the home side Emlyn’s defence proved difficult to breach and the visitors could only manage to score two tries in this half.

There were a number of stand-out individual performances allied with the efforts of the whole side. Man of the match flanker, Owain Powell, was outstanding and showed what the red and whites have missed this season because of his injury problems. Inside centre Richard Hope pushed Powell hard for the man of the match award with his distribution skills and solid defending. Second row Dan Havard was like a rampaging bull around the field in the first half with some powerful carries as well as some deft passes as he linked well with his backs in the loose, as did his excellent second row partner Ryan Morgans.

Emlyn could not have had a better start to the match when, from the kick off, Bedlinog dropped the ball in their twenty two and it was then handled by one of their players in an offside position. The excellent referee Dewi Phillips had no option but to award a penalty to Emlyn. Skipper Alex Williams opted to kick for the corner and, although Bedlinog managed to halt the first couple of drives from the line out, eventually Williams himself was driven over the line for the opening score after just two minutes play.

The next score followed shortly afterwards and owed a great deal to the confidence beginning to run through the side. Ryan Morgans took a good line out catch in the Bedlinog half. The pack, led superbly by skipper Williams, made good metres from a series of drives and when Havard was stopped some ten metres from the line Emlyn again recycled the ball. Richard Hope executed a lovely run around after passing the ball and timed his final pass to perfection, allowing winger Llyr Davies to squeeze over in the corner for an excellent try.

As often happens, Bedlinog came back at the red and whites and when they were awarded a penalty some thirty metres out, outside half Ian Smerdon was unlucky to see his kick strike the post. Emlyn responded in the best possible fashion and with Havard, Morgans, and number eight Brynmor Jones working effectively at the line out and Emlyn’s powerful scrum driving Bedlinog back, the visitors struggled for any worthwhile possession. When they did attempt to move the ball they found outside half Barry Thomas marshalling his defence and Hope and fellow centre Llyr Jones continually forced Bedlinog into errors.

It was just a matter of time before the next score came and when it did it was due to a huge series of drives by the forwards followed by some excellent heads up rugby. Led by Williams, a series of carries by all the Emlyn forwards took play deep into the Bedlinog twenty two. Showing great composure the ball was eventually released to the three quarters, centre Richard Hope saw that the Bedlinog defence had been drawn in and passed a lovely overhead pass, missing out two players, to winger Dan Davies who was completely unmarked. The winger caught the pass and crossed unopposed for a try which he then converted to extend Emlyn’s lead.

Under constant pressure now, Bedlinog had at this stage no answer to the control and drive of the Emlyn forwards and Davies increased Emlyn’s lead with a well struck penalty. This did galvanise Bedlinog and they capitalised on some rather sloppy play by the home side to take play into the Emlyn twenty two for the first time in the game. They however could not cope with Emlyn’s rush defence and were unable to capitalise on what looked to be a promising attacking situation for them.

The bonus point try came just after the half hour mark when some excellent work by the Emlyn flankers Powell and James led to yet another turnover at a ruck for the home side. Again the vision of Thomas and Hope saw the ball transferred quickly to the speedy Dan Davies who was faced by a second row. Davies rounded the second row and cut inside the covering full back to score a try which he converted.

As the half drew to a close, Emlyn were perhaps guilty of trying to be too clever in their off-loading game and Bedlinog capitalised on a couple of Emlyn errors to take play back into the Emlyn twenty two. Awarded a penalty almost in front of the posts they opted to kick to touch, won the line out and drove for the Emlyn line. They were stopped short on at least three occasions and when they moved the ball away from their pack they were again held up and, from the resultant maul, flanker Joel James ripped the ball out for Emlyn allowing full back Shaun Leonard to use his siege gun boot to clear their line.

Half time saw powerful Emlyn tight head prop Gethin Davies having to leave the field with a suspected broken arm and this had a huge effect on the second half. With normal tight head Neil Elworthy also injured Emlyn only had loose head prop Jack Parry as a replacement prop forward and the home side had to opt for non-contested scrums. Bedlinog responded to this situation better than Emlyn and proceeded to dominate territory and possession during the second half. Perhaps a certain amount of complacency crept into the Emlyn side, but the forwards especially did not play with the same drive that they had exhibited in the first half.

Bedlinog, prompted by their half backs Soanes and Smerdon began to run the ball well at Emlyn and tested the home defence which at times this season has been found wanting. Some poor kicking out of defence by Emlyn ensured that they were unable to relieve the pressure for any length of time with at least three clearance kicks from just outside the twenty two going out on the full. Bedlinog’s first try of the half came after some seven minutes when replacement prop Nathan Evans crashed over in the corner from a line out. Some fine defensive work by the Emlyn back row and midfield kept Bedlinog at bay for long periods and it took until the twenty eighth minute before scrum half James Soanes crossed for a try which Smerdon converted.

This did wake Emlyn up and they went back to playing some basic, no frills rugby. A kick ahead by Leonard was caught by the full back, recycled by the pack for Alex Williams to once again drive forward. From that resultant ruck the ball went into the hands of number eight Brynmor Jones just outside the Bedlinog twenty two. Showing some quick feet the number eight side stepped a would be tackler and out- paced any covering defence to cross for an excellent individual try in the corner to round off the scoring for the day.

The win moves Emlyn up to fifth in the table but taking into consideration results elsewhere in the Championship the red and whites cannot yet be guaranteed safety in this highly competitive League. With either two or three games left to play by all sides only nine points separate Emlyn in fifth from Newbridge in eleventh position. 

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