16 April 2017 / Team News

Narrow defeat in final game of the season


There was a very end of season feel to this fixture as both teams ran out onto to Dol Wiber for Emlyn and Tata Steel’s final game of the season. With this fixture having been rearranged, and a fortnight after the season was supposed to have been completed, both sides found that some players had other commitments which prevented them playing. For Emlyn coach Marc Lloyd had to almost completely re-shuffle his back line with three wingers absent and flanker Gethin Davies was pressed into emergency duty out on the left wing. A training injury to centre Tomi Jones also meant that Barry Thomas had to play at inside centre with Richard Hope moving to the outside centre position. The visitors had some forwards unavailable but they still managed to field probably the biggest and heaviest pack of forwards seen at Dol Wiber this season.

The first twenty minutes of the game was a tale more or less of Emlyn’s complete territorial domination but they were unable to breach the visitors defence. They did not help their cause by a constant stream of mistakes, poor passing leading to possible try scoring opportunities being squandered and on at least three occasions conceding penalties at rucks within five metres of the Tata line. The home side were fortunate that second row Ryan Morgans was in outstanding form during this period placing Tata’s line out under a great deal of pressure, not helped by the fact that their normal hooker was absent.

In fact it took until the half hour mark before the red and whites managed to cross the visitor’s line and when it came it was as fine an individual try as has been seen at Dol Wiber. Emlyn moved the ball along their three-quarters on the half way line and it reached the hands of full back Shaun Leonard. Instead of kicking for position Leonard set off on a mazy side stepping run leaving at least five would be tacklers in his wake as he crossed under the posts for a try which he converted.

As half time approached Tata finally came more into the game and from a scrum on the half way line a simple three-quarter move saw centre Sean Wilcox burst through some poor Emlyn defence. Fortunately some excellent covering by young wing Llyr Freeman and Leonard brought the centre down five metres from the Emlyn line. The pressure was now on the home side and from a penalty award Tata went for the touchline. With number eight and player coach Mathew Llewelyn now throwing the ball into the line out, Tata’s line out work improved considerably and he threw a good throw to the back of the line. The Tata forwards came around on the peel and Emlyn managed to stop the first charge around the back of the line. Quick re-cycling saw Llewelyn crash over for a try by the posts which outside half Josh White converted to bring the scores level at half time.

This score certainly inspired the visitors who knew that if they obtained a try bonus point win they would end up in third position in the Championship table. The first twenty five minutes of the half proved to be an absolute nightmare for the home side. The bigger, heavier Tata forwards completely dominated possession and territory. Emlyn were forced to defend desperately as Tata kept rumbling at them, with the Emlyn back row of Owain Powell, Joel James and Brynmor Jones putting in a number of vital tackles. Penalties were conceded and with Tata looking to score tries they declined to kick at goal opting instead to run the ball. From one such penalty, they executed a lovely run around move by scrum half Ross Parsons and he crossed for a try under the posts which White converted.

Emlyn by now were beginning to fall off some tackles and things were looking bleak for the home side when after a series of rucks close to the home line the ball was moved wide to number eight Llewelyn who crossed in the corner for a try well converted by White. It took Emlyn seventeen minutes before they won any ball and they managed to get into Tata’s twenty two. From a penalty award they opted to kick to the corner. Morgans caught the ball at the line out but then lost possession as he drove for the line, two kicks downfield and some twenty seconds later Emlyn found themselves having to defend a line out deep in their own twenty two.

Deciding to run what little possession they had, some powerful charges by James, and props Jack Parry and Gethin Davies took play back down to the Tata twenty two. Then disaster struck, from a scrum in midfield Emlyn called a move in the backs involving both centres and Leonard, unfortunately Tata centre Andrew Spowart read the move and intercepted what would have been a scoring pass for Emlyn. The centre sprinted almost the length of the field to score under the posts for White to convert and extend Tata’s lead.

Tata made a bit of a mess of recovering the restart and the ever alert Richard Hope got his hands on the ball and as he was about to be tackled he slipped the ball inside to Barry Thomas and the veteran centre crossed for a try under the posts. Emlyn now threw caution to the wind as they realised they had to keep the ball and run rather kick for position. Coach Lloyd moved Powell out to inside centre and Thomas back to outside half and Powell’s direct running caused problems for the Tata defence. Inspired by the powerful running of Joel James all the Emlyn forwards started carrying well in the loose and after a patient build up Emlyn moved the ball from one side of the pitch to the other and number eight Brynmor Jones, who had another excellent game, crossed in the corner and ran around behind the posts to make it a simple conversion for Leonard.

From the restart Freeman caught the ball and moved it across the three quarter line. Hope made some excellent ground down the right wing and linked on half way with Mike Jones, now playing on the wing, who cut inside and linked with the forwards. Three rucks later the ball was now on the left wing and an inside pass found replacement flanker Osian Davies in support and the eighteen year old Emlyn Youth player crossed for a try on his senior debut. Unfortunately Leonard surprisingly pulled the conversion wide of the posts, to leave Emlyn two points adrift of Tata with some five minutes to play.

Desperately running everything when they had the ball, it was perhaps symptomatic of the home side’s performance that the game ended with Emlyn on the attack but the malady of the first half came back to haunt them when an awful pass, dropping at a player’s toes, was knocked on and the game was over. There were encouraging signs for the future with the debuts from the bench of two Youth players in Osian Davies, son of Emlyn Youth team coach Gethin Davies, and Youth team captain Ifan Thomas. Thomas in fact created a little bit of club history when he came on at scrum half to partner his father Barry at outside half, the first time ever a father and son have played in the same game for the 1XV.



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