01 October 2017 / Team News

Emlyn back on track


There were huge sighs of relief at Dôl Wiber when the final whistle went on Saturday in this hard fought Championship encounter. Games between these two sides have always been close with normally only a couple of points separating the sides, especially at Emlyn. Up to the seventy minute mark this looked like following a similar score line with the visitors leading by the slender margin of eight points to eleven. Then the home side managed to turn their territorial supremacy in to points to win by a score which was by no means as comfortable as it suggests.

The first half was a rather dour encounter to say the least, with both sides attempting to overcome the difficult, wet, slippery conditions. Emlyn started positively and territorially dominated the first twenty five minutes but were unable to put any points on the board. A long range penalty attempt by full back Llyr Davies after two minutes fell just short. Then from a quick tap penalty taken by live wire scrum half Mike Jones play was taken up to the Glynneath line but some stubborn defending by the visitors saw the ball eventually knocked from the grasp of an Emlyn attacker. It was all Emlyn at this stage and when awarded another penalty wide out, they opted for the kick to touch. From the resultant line out they set up a driving maul and looked certain to score only for eagle eyed referee Andy Davies to spot an infringement in the way the maul was set up and the visitors were able to clear their line.

It took, in fact, until the twenty fifth minute before Glynneath came into the Emlyn twenty two and they showed how clinical they could be with a well taken try. In the build up to it Emlyn lost the services of veteran prop Dai Bryant, who had an excellent game in the tight, for ten minutes when he was penalised for pulling the scrum half into a ruck. Glynneath went for the scrum five metres out but the home side managed to halt the drive. Their scrum half Alex Burton was quick enough to pick up the ball and he managed to wriggle his way out of a tackle and score wide out.

Showing greater confidence and determination fourteen man Emlyn immediately set up camp again in the Glynneath half. After a series of rucks the ball was again knocked forward by an Emlyn player but referee Davies had spotted an earlier knock on by Glynneath. From the scrum Emlyn again drove for the line and, unlike previous matches, were patient in their build up. Eventually the ball was in the hands of centre Steffan Evans and he timed his pass well to allow winger Llyr Jones to cross in the corner for Emlyn’s opening score.

The second half opened in a similar fashion to the first half with the home side exerting a great deal of pressure on the visitors but struggling to score any points. The closest Emlyn came was after some ten minutes when they were awarded a penalty and opted for touch only for a succession of drives concluding in the ball being knocked forward. On the quarter hour mark full back Llyr Davies, who had a fine game, did put Emlyn in the lead with a penalty kick.

Matters looked to have taken a turn for the worse for the home side when around the twenty minute mark they lost, through injuries, hard working flanker Gareth Thomson and centre Steffan Evans within a couple of minutes of each other. Sensing their opportunity Glynneath put together a series of attacks and Emlyn were eventually penalised in front of their posts for off side and outside half Dylan Francis brought the scores level with the penalty kick. A couple of minutes later he put the visitors in front when Emlyn were harshly penalised for not releasing the ball when it was in touch and he converted the kick form the twenty two metre line.

Emlyn had by now brought on Mitchell Jones to play outside half, replacing Dyfan Dafydd, and the home side changed their style of play with Jones using his boot to drive Glynneath back into their twenty two. Jones just pushed one long range penalty wide of the posts but it seemed only a matter of time before the red and whites scored as they battered the Glynneath defensive line. Sensing this skipper Alex Williams declined to go for the posts with a penalty with only a couple of minutes left on the clock and went for the line out. Glynneath halted the initial drive but could do nothing to stop replacement prop Emrys Davies peeling around the front of the line-out to thunder over in the corner. Jones kicked a superb conversion from the touchline to extend Emlyn’s lead to four points.

From the restart the ball was caught by excellent second row Dan Havard who with his pack behind him drove hard and took play up to the half way line. The ball reached Jones at outside half and he kicked the ball deep into the Glynneath twenty-two to set up another series of attacks by Emlyn with the full time whistle approaching. Glynneath were forced to concede a scrum five metres out and, showing great composure and thought, number eight Brynmor Jones picked up the ball, backed into their scrum half setting up a mini maul. Scrum half Mike Jones joined in and before the Glynneath pack could react he was over in the corner for Emlyn’s third try. Mitchell Jones added the extra points with another superb conversion to round off for him probably his best performance yet in Emlyn colours. Desperate for a losing bonus point Glynneath came at Emlyn from the restart but the home side managed to hold out to deny the visitors anything.

This win should certainly boost Emlyn’s confidence and there were a number of plus points for the home side. Llyr Davies looked confident and assured at full back, the three-quarter line functioned really well in defence and attack, showing a great deal of variety in their play. With two outside halves in Dafydd and Jones with such different styles of play coach Lloyd can bring a great deal of variety to Emlyn’s play. Up front the front row of Dai Jones, Alex Williams and Dai Bryant proved to be strong scrummagers and more than held their own against heavier opponents. In wet, slippery conditions the Emlyn eight as a whole turned in a creditable performance, showing a marked improvement from the previous weeks, one can only hope this improvement will continue next week against Championship newcomers Rhydyfelin in Emlyn.   

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