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18 October 2015 / Team News

Much improved Emlyn performance

NEWCASTLE EMLYN 19   PONTYPOOL 40  

Despite the final score line this game was a lot closer than the score suggests as Emlyn put in a much improved performance on their previous showings so far this season. For a long period of the game there was nothing to choose between the two sides and if Emlyn’s Dan Davies had had his kicking boots on the scores at halftime would have been level.

The worrying part for Emlyn is that once again they picked up some more injuries with second row Bleddyn Davies, number eight Brynmor Jones and centre Steffan Evans all having to leave the field with injuries, which takes to double figures the number of players unavailable to the red and whites. Coach Marc Lloyd had given the squad a real roasting in training during the week and they responded in the best possible fashion with a highly creditable performance.

Pontypool arrived for their first ever visit to Dol Wiber with possibly one of the biggest sides ever seen at the ground. They started in true old fashioned Pooler style with a powerful scrum drive which led to a penalty kick for their accurate centre Clayton Gullis to open their account. Undeterred Emlyn reacted in the best possible fashion by going through a series of rucks and working their way up field. Unfortunately for them full back Dan Davies missed with two relatively simple penalty kicks in this period.

Such is the competitive nature of the Championship that although it took the visitors nearly twenty minutes to get back into the Emlyn half the home side conceded a needless penalty and Gullis extended their lead with a well struck kick. The rest of the half belonged almost entirely to the home side as they more or less laid siege to the Pontypool line. With permit player Dylan Davies winning some quality line out ball at the tail of the line thanks to some excellent throwing by hooker Alex Williams, and the scrum looking fairly secure they attacked Pontypool from everywhere. Unfortunately for them ex-Cross Keys skipper and flanker Rob Nash and number eight Ben Sparks were superb in marshalling the Pooler defence to repel the constant Emlyn attacks.

The closest the home side came to scoring in this period was from a lineout move five metres out from the line. After a couple of rucks, Emlyn’s tight head prop Gethin Davies was held up over the line by four defenders. Then totally against the run of play, Pooler scored a superb try. Scrum half Aaron Quick broke blind from a scrum in his own twenty two, linked with winger Josh Hurley, the two inter-passed until they were stopped just inside the Emlyn twenty two. They recycled the ball quickly and some first class handling saw the ball transferred to the opposite wing for right winger Nathan Brooks to cross for an unconverted try.

Emlyn retaliated almost immediately and showing great composure went through a series or rucks as they worked their way towards the Pooler line. Eventually from a ruck close to the line prop Gethin Davies barged his way over for a try which unfortunately Davies was unable to convert on the stroke of half time.

The start of the second half proved to be disastrous for the red and whites. Within the space of two minutes both flankers Gethin Davies and Callum Evans were sin-binned by referee Neil Jones. Davies was first to go for entering a ruck on the ten metre line from the side, Gullis kicked the penalty, and from the restart Evans badly timed his jump for the ball and upended the catcher to find himself carded for the offence.

Without both quick mobile flankers who were both playing really well things looked grim for the home side. Alex Williams managed to pull his side around him and they defended with great determination for the next few minutes to keep the visitors out. As often happens it was when they had fourteen men on the field before they conceded the next try. This was scored by their hard working number eight who forced his way over for a try converted by Gullis.

Pooler now started to move the ball around the field with great confidence and some excellent handling as they stretched a flagging Emlyn defence from one side of the field to the other. A drive up the field from a line out saw the ball moved from the right hand side to the left and back again and it was the large frame of mobile prop Joe Popple who galloped some thirty metres to score without a hand being laid on him.

At 26-5 down things did not look good for the home side and their supporters were fearing a very big drubbing at the hands of this Pontypool side. However showing commendable grit and determination they came back at the visitors. Right winger Llyr Jones had a really good run down the touchline and was just hauled down short of the line. Emlyn went through the phases and eventually prop Gethin Davies scored his second try of the afternoon which was a carbon copy of the first. This time it was outside half Dyfan Dafydd who stepped up to convert this try and close the gap.

The gap quickly widened again when Emlyn made a complete hash of the Pontypool restart and conceded a penalty kick. This was kicked to touch as Pooler went in search of the bonus point and from the lineout Emlyn knocked on. The resulting scrum wheeled and the referee had no hesitation in awarding a penalty try, converted by Gullis.

Pontypool by now decided to play a more conservative game as the match entered the last few minutes deploying the long downfield kick to gain territory. Emlyn in a desperate attempt to run the ball from their own line, went to chip over the heads of the oncoming Pooler players only for the ball to be kicked straight into the stomach of Rob Nash who walked over for an easy try converted by Gullis.

The red and whites did have the final say though when with many spectators leaving to book their seats for the forthcoming international, inspired by another run by Llyr Jones, they put together a series of rucks and eventually outside half Dyfan Dafydd side stepped over for a try which he converted.  

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