05 November 2017 / Team News

Pooler show their class


For once this season the score is not an accurate reflection of the game as the home side fought valiantly to the end in this encounter against the Championship leaders. The budget Pontypool have would make a Premiership side quake, as they have assembled an extremely talented squad which will undoubtedly win the Championship again, and should enjoy another successful Cup run. Why they remain in the Championship is something the Law makers in the WRU should really examine in great detail as the ambition and resources are there for them to be a real force in the Premiership and return this great club to the position they should enjoy as one of the Premiership clubs in Wales.

 Be that as it may this was undoubtedly the home side’s best performance of the season, as they not only defended well but also looked to counter attack at every opportunity. In the end inequality in size was a telling factor. Pooler were direct and powerful, utilising their forwards to the best possible advantage as they hammered at the home side through phase after phase. The fact that they had to go through numerous phases for most of their scores is a testament to the home side’s commitment and determination. On this form there is not a side in the Championship who are capable of competing with them. The previous two encounters between the teams at Dôl Wiber have been extremely close but not on Saturday. They scored a total of nine tries and their large following of fans left Dôl Wiber in a very happy frame of mind after this comprehensive victory.

Emlyn actually opened the scoring with a penalty kick by winger Dan Davies when Pooler were penalised for playing the ball in an off side position from the kick off. They were then subjected to a siege as the massive Pooler eight came at the home side relentlessly. Emlyn managed to defend their line against a series of forward drives but eventually conceded a penalty kick in front of the posts, which outside half Kieron Meek converted to level the scores. With scrum half Aaron Quick box kicking accurately, they were soon on the attack again. Dominating possession they added two further tries, one from a driving maul by hooker Ben Parry, and a second by captain, Rob Nash, one of them converted by Meek.

Emlyn’s reply to the second try was immediate and came from the restart when the home side managed to regain possession from the kick off and the ball ended up in the hands of centre Teifion Davies, who ghosted past two would be tacklers and accelerated away to score under the posts, for Davies to convert. This encouraged the home side and they managed to obtain some possession, and play went back into the Pooler half. Breaching the visitors’ defence was proving to be nigh on impossible with outstanding Pooler flanker Mike Herbert time and again driving Emlyn forwards backwards in the tackle.

On the half hour mark Pooler extended their lead with a try by winger Jordan Thomas, converted by Meek. A couple of minutes later hooker Parry crossed for his second after a lovely flowing movement which totally stretched the home defence and Meek added the extra points. Injuries now began to take their toll on the home side and centre Teifion Davies and flanker Gareth Thomson both had to leave the field to be replaced by Kami Nakove and Dylan Davies.

The Emlyn spirit was not quenched by these changes and as half time approached an attack from inside their own half saw Steffan Evans kick downfield and with Nakove and Mike Jones in hot pursuit Pooler were forced to fall on the ball and concede a penalty. Opting to go for touch the home side put together a series of drives that took them right up to and over the Pooler line. Referee Morgan ruled that Emlyn were unable to ground the ball and unfortunately for the red and whites decided that it was half time.

Any thoughts the large crowd had that maybe Pooler would relax a bit in the second half, because they had already obtained the try bonus point, were quickly dispelled. From the kick off they subjected the Emlyn line to a five minute barrage of attacks which the home side defended valiantly. Eventually a gap appeared in the home defence allowing Meek to dart through and score his side’s fifth try, which he converted himself.

Emlyn refused to accept defeat and, with scrum half Mike Jones snapping at their heels, the pack bravely continued to take the game to the visitors. Indeed it was Jones who created Emlyn’s best chance of the half when he made a forty metre break, linked with second row Dyfed Morgan who took the ball into the Pooler twenty two. Penalised at the ruck Emlyn again went for touch but this time, after a series of attacks, were penalised at a ruck under the visitors’ posts. The visitors were in no mood to concede anything to Emlyn and worked their way up field and, from another period of pressure, scrum half Quick crossed for a try, converted by Meek.

It was basically all one way traffic with Emlyn having very few opportunities to attack. However when a Pooler forward had the ball knocked out of his possession as he was going to score, the Emlyn centre picked up the ball and ran from behind his own goal line. This did catch the visitors by surprise and Jones’s run took him up to half way where he linked with flanker Joel James. The big flanker was tackled into touch on the ten metre line and the visitors were able to regain possession and set up camp in the Emlyn half.

Injuries by now were seriously affecting the home side with winger Dan Davies and outside half Steffan Evans both having to leave the field. With only replacement scrum half Dafydd Evans left on the bench, he came on instead of Davies, Emlyn were forced to play the last twenty minutes with only fourteen men. That Pooler only added three more tries, courtesy of flankers Rob Nash and Mike Herbert and replacement scrum half Martin Luckwell, all converted by Meek, says a great deal about the commitment of the home side.

Despite the score line there were a number of plus points for the Emlyn players and coaches to take from the game. The overall team effort from all twenty players to continue competing and trying to add to their score up until the final whistle was excellent. They need to maintain and build on this for next Saturday’s vital League encounter with Skewen before they take a break for the Autumn International matches.

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