06 September 2015 / Team News

First Championship victory for Emlyn


Newcastle Emlyn’s historical first match ever in the WRU SWALEC Championship proved to be a real try fest with a total of fourteen tries being scored on a warm, sunny afternoon at the Dairy Field, home of Llanharan rugby club. For the travelling supporters the team served up a veritable feast of running rugby as they went at the home side with pace and power from the first whistle and ended up scoring nine tries in their impressive total. Credit to the home side who never gave up and kept running the ball back at Emlyn and managed to score five tries themselves.

Llanharan have a very proud history and have been among the top club sides in Welsh rugby for a number of years and this was not a score line anyone from Emlyn envisaged before the game started. Unfortunately the home side have suffered from the malaise that seems to infect Welsh rugby in that a number of players had gone on to pastures new over the summer. Emlyn on the other hand have, barring injuries, basically the same side with a couple of additions that performed so well for them last season.

The opening try came after just seven minutes play and was fittingly scored by the Emlyn captain hooker Alex Williams. Full back Dan Davies gathered a clearing kick, ran it back at Llanharan, linked with winger Teifion Davies who then passed the ball back inside for the supporting Williams to score in the corner. The try was converted with an excellent kick by the new Emlyn outside half Giovanni Cipriani. From the restart Emlyn kicked downfield and some very poor defensive work allowed their centre James Beaton to run some fifty metres and when he was eventually brought down, the ball was moved wide for right winger Morgan Williams to score in the corner.

Llanharan were penalised themselves from the restart but Cipriani missed a relatively simple penalty. He made amends a minute later when he gathered the Llanharan drop out, hoisted a high kick which was caught by Emlyn full back Dan Davies who evaded a couple of tacklers to score a try in the corner converted by Cipriani.

The game did settle down a bit with the Emlyn pack starting to gain ascendancy over their opponents thanks to some powerful scrummaging by the front row of props Dai Jones and Gethin Davies and hooker Alex Williams, and then their replacements Emrys Davies and Xabier Garmendia. With both sides opting to run the ball or just kick downfield for position lineouts were few and far between but Arwel Davies, Dyfed Morgan and replacement Bleddyn Davies ruled the roost in this department all afternoon.

 Very much against the run of play it was the home team that scored next after some twenty five minutes play when again some poor tackling by Emlyn allowed prop Sam Edwards to cross for an unconverted try in the corner. The Emlyn defence almost drove watching coach Marc Lloyd to distraction when from the restart the ball was moved away from the forwards by Llanharan to find their backs running against an almost non-existent Emlyn defence allowing Ollie Smith to score a try to give the home side the lead.

This did serve as a wakeup call for the visitors who began to exert a great deal of pressure on the home defence. After a series of controlled rucks on the home sides twenty-two metre line scrum half Mike Jones spotted a gap on the blind side and darted through for a fine individual try converted by Cipriani. Emlyn continued to run everything at the home defence, and with the back row of Steven Leonard, Brynmor Jones, and Joel James dominating the ruck area it was only a matter of time before the bonus point try would be scored. From a ruck on the ten metre line centre Steffan Evans scythed through Llanharan’s defence, calmly slowed down to allow his co-centre Viv Jenkins to come up on his shoulder to take the scoring pass to cross by the posts for Cipriani to add the extra points.

With half time approaching Emlyn extended their lead when winger Llyr Jones, from inside his own half, caught a relieving kick and ran it back at the homes side. He found Dan Davies in support and Davies linked with centre Viv Jenkins who powered through a couple of tackles, drew the full back and passed outside to Giovanni Cipriani who sprinted some twenty metres to score an excellent try in the corner.

Playing up the slope in the second half it was important that Emlyn registered the first score of the half  and it came courtesy of number eight Brynmor Jones who took a quick tap penalty on their ten metre line and found Mike Jones in support to take the scoring pass to cross for his second try, converted by Cipriani. This seemed to galvanise the home side to even greater effort and they spent the next five minutes camped on Emlyn’s line. Unlike the first half Emlyn’s defence was organised and disciplined as they drove back wave after wave of Llanharan runners. As can happen on these occasions when Llanharan looked as if they must score Emlyn full back Dan Davies ripped the ball from the hands of an attacker and sprinted the length of the field to score a try converted by Cipriani.

To their credit this did not deter the home side who continued to pressurise the Emlyn defence as they searched for their fourth, bonus point, try. Unfortunatley for them, led by Leonard and Williams, Emlyn continually managed to pinch the ball from them at the ruck to allow the Emlyn defence to clear their lines. From one turnover by Alex Williams the hooker burst through the Llanahran line and started to sprint up field. Fortunately for him scrum half Mike Jones came up in support and ran some seventy metres to score an excellent try converted by Cipriani for Emlyn to pass the half century

With twenty minutes to go coach Lloyd emptied the remaining bench with flanker Bleddyn Davies replacing Joel James and Dylan Dafydd replacing Steffan Evans. With the pace of the game beginning to slow and Emlyn probably thinking it was job done for the day it was Llanharan who finished the stronger. Their fourth try came shortly after a series of rucks when number eight Tom Wilson crossed for a try converted by Rhys Williams.

Nearing the end of the match Emlyn did extend their lead when some strong running by Viv Jenkins and Alex Williams saw Emlyn deep into Llanharan’s half. From a ruck on the right hand side of the field Dylan Dafydd realised that the home defence was stretched, threw out along miss pass to winger Teifion Davies. Davies, who had a fine game, drew the full back and perfectly timed his pass to put fellow winger Llyr Jones over in the corner for an unconverted try.

With time running out Llanharan crossed for their fifth try through Morgan Williams, but Emlyn were determined to have the last score. The forwards drove up field and when they were awarded a penalty some thirty metres out captain Alex Williams decided enough was enough and instructed Dan Davies to kick for goal and the full back duly obliged to round off the scoring for the red and whites.

This was an excellent start for Emlyn but players and supporters are all too aware that sterner challenges are to come starting this next week when Glynneath are the visitors to Dol WIber.  

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