09 October 2016 / Team News

Emlyn come a poor second


Two seasons ago Emlyn won Division One West and then, by dint of the play –off promotion to the Championship with a game based initially on defence. They visited some grounds with fearsome reputations for losing very few home games and came away with victories despite spending most of the game defending. Last Saturday they visited Glynneath and, like Beddau a fortnight ago, Emlyn’s defending on occasions left a great deal to be desired. The failure of the team to put into a game what they do on the training field is a cause of great concern not only to the coaching staff but the few faithful supporters who travel to watch matches. In the end it is up to each individual player to have a certain pride in his own performance to ensure that everyone performs at their best level possible.

On Saturday the only two players to excel for the red and whites were second row Dan Havard and number seven Tom Powell. Havard, a product of the Emlyn system, showed a work rate and level of commitment which, if others had followed him, might well have brought a victory for the visitors. Powell, on permit from Crymych, demonstrated what a genuine class act he is with his all-round intelligent play and could comfortably operate as a seven in the Premiership. Crymych are fortunate to have such a quality player as their captain this season.

The home side, playing down the slope, started positively and were soon on the scoreboard when, after a series of attacks, their outside half Corey Jenkins spotted a huge gap in the Emlyn defence five metres from their line and just ghosted through for the opening score. With the Emlyn defence on occasions being shredded by wave after wave of Glynneath attacks it seemed only a matter of time before the home side increased their lead. Somehow, mainly through the hard work of Havard and Powell, Emlyn managed to keep them out.

It took them twenty minutes before they increased their lead and the manner of the score demonstrated to everyone the malaise inflicting this side at the moment.  A seemingly innocuous Glynneath three-quarter movement on the half way line seemed to be really going nowhere as the Emlyn defence drifted across the field to snuff it out. Winger Aled Evans just kicked ahead and a couple of Emlyn defenders just turned and ran with him. Instead of sprinting back and clearing to touch they allowed Evans to pick up the bouncing ball and cross without a hand being laid on him for a try well converted by Jenkins.

 Emlyn briefly came back at the home side and had a period of pressure in the Glynneath twenty two. As in Beddau any attacks ended in an Emlyn mistake with the visitors either knocking the ball on or losing it in contact after going through a series of rucks. The line out again, at crucial times, did not function for the red and whites with two consecutive line outs in the Glynneath twenty two being lost on the Emlyn throw. A matter of concern to forwards coach Arwel Davies. Glynneath, with scrum half Ben Jones cleverly switching the direction of attacks, were soon back on the offensive. They increased their lead when Emlyn lost possession of the ball at a scrum on their ten metre line, Jones quickly picked up the loose ball and fed outstanding number eight Stuart Leach. Christmas came early for Leach as he just strolled some thirty five metres to score without a hand being laid on him and, even worse, no Emlyn defenders looking as if they wanted to bring him down.

As the half was drawing to a close Emlyn did manage to put together some attacks but the home side handed out a lesson to the visitors in attitude when it came to defending with some excellent last ditch tackles to halt dangerous attacks. From a turnover at a ruck, full back Leonard burst through the first line of defenders linked with prop Emrys Davies who was brought down short of the line. It about summed up Emlyn’s performance when the ball was quickly recycled only for the potentially scoring pass, to supporting flanker Gareth Patterson, to hit him on the head and cross the line for Glynneath to minor. On the stroke of half time Emlyn did get on the scoreboard when Glynneath were penalised at a ruck and winger Dan Davies kicked the penalty goal.   

Playing down the slope in the second half the Emlyn faithful were hoping for at least an improvement in the performance. They started off the half positively but like the first half a number of attacks petered out when the ball was knocked on in the tackle, or the player was unable to hold on to a pass. Glynneath on the other hand were accurate in attack and their young three-quarter line passed and supported each other excellently. Their bonus point try came as a result of this when centre Jordan Griffiths rounded off a fine bout of inter passing by the backs without a hand being laid on anyone with the ball, for the try of the game in the corner.

They then had a purple patch half way through the half when from a line out five metres out Glynneath replacement prop Dai Jones crashed over from a peel around the back of the line for a try converted by Jenkins. Three minutes later it looked as if the floodgates were opening when from broken play they attacked again down Emlyn’s left wing and the ball ended up being passed inside eventually for scrum half Ben Jones to cross for an unconverted try.

Emlyn now emptied their bench and the replacements did bring a bit more steel to the Emlyn defence. Second row Aled Davies, using his size and strength, managed to disrupt the home side’s line out and driving mauls and centre Alun Howells at least gave Emlyn some go forward with his direct running. But Emlyn’s efforts were continually thwarted by their own mistakes and the side really needs to regain the composure that has served them so well over the last couple of seasons. They did eventually cross the home side’s line with the very last move of the game, when they went through a series of rucks and eventually flanker Joel James crossed for a try converted by Dan Davies to bring an end to another disappointing performance.  

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