10 September 2017 / Team News

Emlyn win thriller


For excitement and tension at the end of a game you would have to go a long way to beat the scene at Dôl Wiber on Saturday as Emlyn recorded their first victory of the season. With fifteen minutes to go the home side looked to be in control of the game, leading by 24 points to 12, Tata Steel, however, had other ideas as they laid siege to the Emlyn line. Using their powerful forwards they pummelled away and it took, at times, some desperate but committed defending to keep them out. Every Emlyn player can take a great deal of credit with what was perhaps one of the best defensive displays seen at Dôl Wiber for many a year. Even when the home side were reduced to thirteen men and then fourteen, Tata could not find a way through and it took them until the eighty second minute before they eventually crossed the Emlyn line for a converted try to bring them within a score of victory.

The beginning of the game bore no hint of the drama that was to come as the home side started positively, exerting a great deal of pressure on the visitors’ through series after series of rucks, interspersed with some excellent close inter passing between forwards and backs. Tata really had their backs against the wall during this period but defended extremely well. Tight head prop Gethin Davies looked to have opened Emlyn’s account when he crashed over the Tata line with three players on his back, but they somehow managed to keep the ball off the ground. The pressure on Tata was relentless and they struggled to get out of their twenty two.

Eventually Emlyn opened their account when from a defensive scrum five meters out Tata’s attempted clearance kick was charged down in the in goal area by scrum half Mike Jones. Making use of his local knowledge Jones realised that the ball still had a long way to travel before crossing the dead ball line and he managed to get downward pressure on the ball just short of the dead ball line for Emlyn’s first try, full back Dan Davies converting.   

Looking in complete control Emlyn’s second try soon followed. From a scrum on the half way line the Emlyn backs executed a training ground move and winger Llyr Davies ran a superb line to put himself past his opposite number. Realising he might not have the pace to go all the way he cleverly passed inside to the supporting Llyr Jones who sprinted away from any potential cover to cross by the posts for Davies to add the extra points.

The highly competitive nature of the Championship showed itself now as Tata roused themselves and began to come more into the game with some excellent inter passing between forwards and backs. They used their big inside centre Jenkins to good effect as he took Emlyn defenders on, and off loaded well to his supporting forwards and they began to ask questions of the home defence. Careless play conceded a penalty and Tata kicked for touch five meters from the Emlyn line. The Emlyn forwards managed to stop the initial drive but after a couple of rucks second row Lloyd Griffiths crashed over for an unconverted try.

Emlyn’s restart saw the ball kicked out on the full conceding a scrum on the half way line. The Emlyn defence basically went to sleep when Tata number eight Ryan Hall picked up from the base of the scrum and linked with scrum half Williams. Williams, when threatened by a defender, passed back inside to his supporting back rowers and two passes later open side David Griggs sprinted some twenty metres to score by the posts for outside half Geraint Llewelyn to convert to bring them within two points of the home side.

The second half followed a similar pattern to the first with the home side dominating the early part of the game. Dan Davies extended Emlyn’s lead with a well struck penalty from the ten metre line when the Tata full back was penalised for a no arms tackle. Some excellent kicking from the base of rucks by scrum half Mike Jones kept the pressure on Tata as the heavens opened. A fine kick chase saw Tata forced to concede a five metre scrum leading to Emlyn number eight Brynmor Jones, who had an excellent match, picking up from the base of the scrum. He wisely fed scrum half Mike Jones, and Jones showed his strength to force his way over for his second try of the match converted by Davies.  

Any thoughts Emlyn might have had of a comfortable victory with the bonus point try being only a matter of time in coming were quickly dispelled by the Tata forwards. Under a great deal of pressure, the home side began to panic whenever they looked to have cleared their line, they then conceded needless penalties which put the pressure back on their line. Desperate defending led to penalties close to the line and prop Gethin Davies was yellow carded for playing the ball in a ruck, quickly followed by second row Dan Havard for a scrum offence. Tata kept attacking Emlyn with their big forwards but fine defensive work, especially by the back row of flankers Gareth Thomson, Owain Powell and Brynmor Jones aided by the rest of the forwards, managed to keep them out. For some reason Tata decided not to use their backs during this period even when Emlyn put two backs into a couple of five metre scrums.

Eventually with Emlyn back up to fifteen players Tata did use their backs and it took an excellent tackle by Emlyn’s new signing Kami Nakove to halt a certain score. Unfortunately Nakove was then yellow carded for not moving out of the way quickly enough after the tackle, and the red and whites had to play the last five minutes with only fourteen players. Centre Bleddyn Davies eventually forced his way over for Tata and with Llewelyn converting with only a couple of minutes to go there was only five points in the game. Scenting a possibly unexpected victory, Tata attacked again from the restart but the Emlyn players were not to be denied a fully deserved victory.

Director of Rugby Marc Lloyd was delighted with the performance and just hopes that the side will be able to replicate this sort of form week in week out in what looks to be a very competitive Championship. There can be no doubt that for followers of the oval ball the place to be for quality, highly competitive rugby this season is Dôl Wiber when the red and whites are playing at home.

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