10 April 2016 / Team News

Emlyn given harsh lesson by the Ironmen


Pre-match expectations at Emlyn before their visit to the ‘Ironmen’ of Merthyr were at best a bonus point for scoring four tries. The home side showed a number of changes to the side that visited Dol Wiber and won 19 – 7 in December. The challenge facing the red and whites was even greater when it became apparent that a win would secure Merthyr promotion to the Premiership for next season. With their Patron, Sir Stan Thomas watching from the stands they were always going to put on a show to impress their generous benefactor.

To their credit Emlyn, from the start, took the attack to the home side and always looked to keep the ball alive in their search for four tries. In a hugely physical game it was the size and power of the home side that was the difference between the two sides. Any mistake, forced or unforced, by Emlyn was heavily punished by Merthyr who looked to counter attack from any position on the field. This was not a game of one side kicking for position and going for tries via driving mauls and push over scrums, both sides looked to play the ball out of the tackle and move it across the playing field.

It was the visitors who started the more promisingly in a first half which gave no hint of the carnage that was to come in the second half. The home side were penalised on the Emlyn ten metre line and quick thinking Emlyn scrum half Dafydd Evans took a quick tap penalty, moved the ball along the line to wing Llyr Davies. The winger beat his man on the inside and, when the cover defence were closing in, put in a clever grubber kick which went into touch five metres from the home line. It took Emlyn two line outs, both caught by second row Ryan Morgans, before they were able to drive over the line for an unconverted try accredited to number eight Brynmor Jones.

The home side came back at Emlyn from the restart and soon responded with a try, from line out possession, by second row Craig Locke converted by full back Mathew Jarvis.  The rest of the half settled into a pattern of Emlyn attacks and Merthyr counter attacks. A neat chip over the advancing defenders by Emlyn centre Steffan Evans was caught by Shaun Leonard who looked certain to score until the gargantuan Merthyr flanker Phil Rees dragged him down short of the line. Emlyn were penalised two rucks later and Merthyr opted to run the ball out of defence and only a superb cover tackle by Leonard on the Merthyr wing Gee stopped a certain try.

Emlyn were playing with a lot of invention and centre Steffan Evans proved to be a threat to the homes side with a couple of nice breaks and some delicate chips over the defence. Merthyr were always ready to pounce on any mistake and counter attack. Their next try came when an Emlyn movement broke down in Merthyr’s twenty two, the ball was moved out to winger Alex Howman who passed inside to the ever present flanker Osian Davies who crossed under the Emlyn posts for a try converted by Jarvis. The size and pace of the Merthyr wings and their willingness to keep the ball alive by passing inside proved a problem for Emlyn all game.

On the half hour they extended their lead with some lovely off- loading out of the tackle by their forwards, followed by a series of rucks on the Emlyn twenty two, which Emlyn managed to defend very well until Merthyr hooker Rhys Williams sprinted through a gap to score a try converted by Jarvis.

Emlyn continued to get a fair amount of ball through the hard work at the line out of Ryan Morgans and Dyfed Morgan and some accurate throwing in by hooker Dai Jones, who had a good all round game. The Emlyn flankers Steven Leonard and Gareth Patterson worked extremely hard all afternoon and managed to supply lively scrum half Dafydd Evans with some quality ruck ball. After a series of rucks a delicate chip ahead was caught by Emlyn winger Llyr Jones who looked certain to score but was brought down inches from the line. A crunching tackle by Leonard saw possession in the hands of Emlyn number eight Brynmor Jones whose elusive run took him right up to their line but he was unable, due to the cover, to find a supporting runner with the scoring pass.

Merthyr extended their lead as half time approached with a long range try through their winger Alex Howman converted by Jarvis. The nip and tuck nature of the half continued when Emlyn replied with a try of their own. Centre Steffan Evans neatly chipped over the advancing backs for Shaun Leonard to gather and score a try which he converted to bring the half to a conclusion.

The warning signs of the carnage to come were there to see in the first half as the bigger more powerful Merthyr players were able to either brush off Emlyn tacklers or off load to their supporting players to carry on the movement. However, Emlyn had just about managed, through some excellent tackling by Shaun Leonard and Teifion Davies, to quell a number of dangerous Merthyr attacks.

The second half was a completely different matter as the home side really turned on the gas, running in a total of eight tries against an Emlyn defence which at times was torn to pieces by this powerful Merthyr outfit.  On this showing they will comfortably hold their own in the Premiership and will probably be challenging for a top four spot by the end of next season. Second half tries were scored by Alex Howman twice, Tom Daley, Mathew Jarvis, Dean Gunter, Martin Luckwell, Miles Normandale, and Osian Davies, five of which were converted by Jarvis.

The try that just about summed up’s Emlyn’s day came late in the half when replacement scrum half Mike Jones made a lovely break from the Merthyr ten metre line and looked certain to score. Jones obviously thought he did not have the legs to get there and tried to pass to his supporting winger. The pass was knocked backwards by the only Merthyr player anywhere near them, he promptly picked up the ball, counter attacked and scrum half Martin Luckwell crossed in the opposite corner for a try.

Urged on by prop Emrys Davies, who again gave 100%, Emlyn did come back at Merthyr and after Steven Leonard was held up over the Merthyr line, from the resulting scrum centre Teifion Davies crossed for a well deserved try, converted by Shaun Leonard. The home side, with the champagne beckoning, had to have the last word and with the final move of the match flanker Osian Davies crossed for another try converted by Jarvis to round off the match. Emlyn can reflect on this defeat and contemplate as to how every mistake they made cost them dearly against the best side in the Championship, but with a little bit of good fortune they could have come away with at least three more tries.  

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