28 February 2016 / Team News

Cup run over for Emlyn


As this result shows, the gulf between the upper end of the Principality Premiership and the lower reaches of the WRU Championship is huge. The only other time these two sides have met was nineteen years ago when Emlyn were languishing in Division Six West and although the defeat then 0-43 was not as great as Saturday’s that game was completely dominated by the visitors. The same could not be said of Saturday’s match as for periods of the game Emlyn applied a great deal of pressure on the visitors line but found breaching a disciplined and aggressive defence difficult to say the least.

Even by Ebbw Vale’s own honest appraisal after the match, the final score did not reflect the game and many of the red and white players came out of the match with a great deal of credit. Statistically wise,  Ebbw Vale are the most successful side in the Premiership when it comes to winning first phase possession. Their pattern of play was simple and highly effective, driving through the forwards and then, when it was moved wide, using their big centres to carry the ball up at speed to cross the gain line and recycling for the forwards to carry on forward.

However it was Emlyn who applied all the early pressure and drove down to the visitors’ twenty two metre line, where they were awarded a penalty when Ebbw desperately killed the ball at a ruck. Unfortunately for the home side winger Dan Davies pushed his attempt just wide of the posts. Ebbw Vale’s response was powerful and determined, setting up camp in the Emlyn twenty two they placed the home side’s scrum under a great deal of pressure. Vale number eight Ethan Doyle controlled the ball and the drive very well at the second attempt and he was awarded a pushover try converted by outside half Ian Smerdon, who had an almost faultless day with the boot converting seven out of his eight attempts at goal.

Using the boot of Smerdon and the power of the pack, with captain Ashley Sweet controlling the line outs, the visitors were quickly back in the Emlyn half and some excellent support running down the right hand side saw backs and forwards combining well for centre David Adam Jones to cross for Vale’s second try converted by Smerdon. Undeterred, Emlyn came back at the visitors, and with open-side flanker Owain Powell excelling at the tackle area, turning the ball over for Emlyn on at least five occasions the red and whites were very much in contention. Powell along with number eight Gareth Patterson both had excellent matches for Emlyn and proved to be real thorns in Ebbw Vale’s sides at the breakdown area, ably assisted on occasions by flanker Joel James.

Half way through the half a penalty kick by Emlyn’s Shaun Leonard took play up to the visitors twenty two line. The throw in was a bit wayward but caught by Emlyn prop Gethin Davies who thundered towards the Ebbw line. Brought down some five metres short of the line Emlyn went through another couple of phases but were unable to breach the steelmen’s line, and conceded a penalty for an offence at the ruck by flanker James who also got yellow carded for his efforts.

Urged on by the large crowd, Emlyn continued to pressurise Ebbw Vale and another run by Davies brought play close to the visitors line. This time it was an Ebbw Vale player who felt the blast of referee Neil Jones’ whistle as prop Robert Sevenoaks was carded for handling the ball at a ruck on their line. Emlyn captain Alex Williams declined the kick at goal and went for the quick tap penalty only to be held up short of the line. Emlyn re-cycled a couple of times but could not find a way over the try line, eventually knocking the ball on and Ebbw cleared their line.

They extended their lead when Emlyn disputed a penalty awarded against them at a ruck on their own twenty two line and quick thinking by Ebbw Vale scrum half David Lewis Jones saw him tap the ball and cross for an unconverted try, while a number of Emlyn players were awaiting an explanation for the decision. They then extended their lead just before half time with a well-controlled catch and drive from a line out with flanker Luke Crockett being accredited with the score, converted by Smerdon.

The second half began with Ebbw Vale bringing on club captain Damien Hudd in the second row to bring even greater control to their game. Playing for position they soon extended their lead through tries by prop Sevenoaks, from a driving line out, and full back Daniel Haymond who sneaked in at the back of a driving maul to claim the score. Both were converted by Smerdon to take their lead up to forty points.

Emlyn were not deterred and coach Lloyd brought on fresh legs in the shape of props Jack Parry and Neil Elworthy and back rower Brynmor Jones. The two props continued the hard work of their predecessors and ensured that Ebbw Vale did not have everything going their own way at scrum time. All Emlyn supporters were pleased to see Jones returning from injury and he had an influential twenty minutes, carrying the ball very well at the opposition.

Half way through the half Emlyn finally got on the scoreboard with probably the best try of the game. From a line out on their own ten metre line, Ryan Morgans took an excellent two handed catch and delivered it to scrum half Mike Jones from the top of his jump. Jones passed to centre Mitchell Jones who sent out a twenty metre pass to outside half Barry Thomas who had looped round his centres. Thomas passed to full back Leonard who timed his pass to winger Dan Davies to perfection. The speedster rounded his opposite number, with the cover coming across he passed back inside to Leonard, two passes later the ball was in the hands of the supporting Mike Jones. With twenty metres to go the scrum half put his head back and sprinted to score under the posts for Dan Davies to convert.

With both sides emptying their benches the game lost some of its structure as both sides opted for running the ball rather than kicking for position. For Emlyn outside centre Teifion Davies came into his own with a couple of lovely outside breaks from inside his own half which unfortunately came to nothing. Ebbw added further converted tries through Crockett and replacement centre Jordan Howells. With time running out Emlyn looked to have added another score when a delicate chip over the advancing Ebbw Vale defenders saw the ball bounce in the in-goal area. Following up at pace winger Dan Davies looked certain to score but a nudge on him by an Ebbw player meant he just missed the ball as he went to dive on it. The final score came with the last play of the game when winger David Williams crossed under the posts for a try converted by replacement David Langdon.

Emlyn return to Championship rugby next week with the famous All Whites of Swansea being the visitors to Dol Wiber for their first ever visit to Emlyn.

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