03 September 2017 / Team News

Emlyn lose close encounter


Contests between these two sides have been close affairs over the last couple of seasons and Saturday’s encounter followed a similar trend. For Emlyn the result was a huge disappointment as this was a game that, with greater composure close to the home side’s line, they should have won. Emlyn’s control and phase play on occasions was top class but too often the final killer blow was botched by a lack of composure close to the line.

Nothing summed this up more than the last five minutes when Emlyn were four points behind and desperately looking for the try to seal the game. They went through phase after phase with the forwards carrying the ball effectively and slowly inching towards the Skewen line. Then, when within a couple of metres of the line, the ball was moved wide to the right hand side where the last player receiving the pass, some twenty metres behind the initial ruck, was engulfed by three defenders.

The first fifteen minutes was completely dominated by Emlyn with the forwards led by skipper Alex Williams carrying the ball forcefully at Skewen, demonstrating great recycling skills as they went through numerous rucks. When the home side were penalised inside their twenty two Williams decided to go for touch rather than goal, but Emlyn were unable to convert this pressure into points. Skewen’s relief at clearing their lines was short lived, for Brynmor Jones and Dan Havard were dominating the line outs due in no small measure to the accurate throwing in of Williams. After quarter of an hour’s play Skewen’s defence finally cracked, when powerful second row Dan Havard burst through a couple of tackles to sprint some twenty metres to score the opening try which was converted by full back Dan Davies.

Skewen’s reply was almost immediate and some missed tackles around the fringes allowed them to make their way up field and set up camp in Emlyn’s twenty two. Emlyn quickly tightened up their defence close to their own line and looked to be coping with the Skewen attacks. Then, as often happens, Skewen right winger Gareth Morris hit the line at a different angle to the rest of his team and crossed for a try under the posts without a hand being laid on him, which was converted by outside half Anthony Buselli.

The rest of the half settled into some pretty frantic attacking by both sides with defences being on top for most of the time. It was apparent that neither side were looking to kick for territory, preferring to keep the ball in hand and it made for a very fast open game for the spectators. As half time approached Emlyn finally managed to gain a foothold in the Skewen twenty two and a series of quick rucks looked certain to bring a score. Skewen defended desperately and three times an Emlyn support player was taken out before the ball reached him. Finally awarded a penalty almost in front of the posts Williams opted for the scrum rather than the kick at the posts. The resulting move from the scrum saw speedy scrum half Mike Jones cross in the corner for a try superbly converted from the touchline by Dan Davies.

Emlyn started the second half like an express train and Skewen were forced onto the back foot by some powerful runs by the Emlyn forwards. In the opening quarter flanker Luke Kendall was extremely unlucky not to score at least two tries when only last ditch tackling kept him out. Dan Davies missed with a fairly straight forward penalty kick which would have extended Emlyn’s lead. This period of pressure by Emlyn should have put the game beyond the reach of Skewen but a lack of composure by the visitors saw a few try scoring opportunities go begging.

As the half progressed with Emlyn being unable to add to their lead the home side began to grow in confidence. When skipper Williams had to leave the field with a nasty cut to the face the visitors scrum began to come under pressure. Realising this, the home side, after some twenty five minutes when Emlyn were penalised close to their line, opted to go for a scrum rather a kick at goal. After some three re-sets due to both front rows standing up when the pressure came on referee Cambourne decided Emlyn were at fault and awarded a penalty try to Skewen converted by Buselli.

With ten minutes to go full back Davies did manage to convert a penalty kick from the ten metre line to regain the lead for Emlyn. This game still had some twists to it before the final whistle was blown. With seven minutes to go Skewen had a scrum on the left hand side of the field on their own ten metre line. There did not initially seem to be a great threat to the visitors as the home side moved the ball along their three quarter line. Then the ball reached right winger Morris and the ex-Neath winger showed a fine turn of speed to round his opposite number, chip over the full back, and re-gather the chip to score an excellent try converted by Buselli.

To their credit Emlyn came right back at Skewen and subjected their line to a relentless series of attacks but to no avail. It probably summed up Emlyn’s lack of composure when the game ended with an Emlyn forward losing possession of the ball as he drove for the line which was only a metre away. Emlyn coaches have a busy week ahead of them as they look to iron out the problems posed by Saturday’s defeat before the first home game of the season against Tata Steel. Tata are a very powerful unit and won the last fixture between the two sides at the end of the season by two points, another close encounter is expected this coming week.

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