01 April 2018 / Team News

Too little, too late


Narberth certainly showed the difference between the top two in the Championship and the rest, as they comfortably defeated Emlyn in this clash of the only two West Walian sides in this League. Statistics would show that, possession wise, both sides were fairly even in the amount of time they had the ball. However for Emlyn to take anything out of this defeat they have to realise that as a side the Otters were sharper, more aggressive in defence and far more street wise and clinical in their finishing, which led to them scoring a total of seven tries, a number of them from what looked to be unpromising situations.

Not for the first time this season the line out proved to be the Achilles heel of the red and whites as they were unable to present their three quarter line with any worthwhile go forward possession. A number of potentially perfect attacking line outs came to nothing, either because of the throw not finding the man or possession gained was not presented tidily to scrum half Dafydd Evans who had a torrid afternoon trying to tidy up some very sloppy ball presentation. When it was controlled they showed commendable discipline going through a number of rucks, with the front row of props Dai Jones and Ifan James along with Skipper Alex Williams carrying powerfully. In fact the performance of the front row was one of the few plusses for Emlyn.

Emlyn, playing into the wind, started positively and it was somewhat against the run of play when the home side opened the scoring when right wing Nick Gale kicked a long range penalty after some seven minutes. Emlyn came right back at Narberth and probably had their best scoring opportunity of the half when, after fifteen minutes, scrum half Dafydd Evans broke from a ruck on his ten metre line. He linked with skipper Williams who ran powerfully up to the Narberth twenty two line where he found centre Steffan Evans in support. Unfortunately, under a great deal of pressure from covering defenders, Evans saw his overhead pass to co-centre Llyr Jones go over Jones’ head.

Clear cut chances were few and far between during the first half but it was Narberth who exposed the Emlyn three quarter defence when they ran the ball from a line out on the half way line and sliced through the Emlyn backs for full back Ianto Griffiths to cross for an unconverted try. On the few occasions they moved the ball in their backs in this half, Narberth looked extremely threatening with outside centre Keiron Jones causing the Emlyn defence no end of problems with his mazy running. Emlyn’s afternoon did not improve when live wire second row Dan Havard had to be stretchered off the field with a serious looking leg injury which has probably brought his season to a premature end.

Narberth extended their lead as half time approached with a try from a line out catch and drive accredited to hooker Rhodri Owens. On half time number eight Richard Rees crossed for Narberth’s third try when Emlyn were unable to cope with a series of attacks by Narberth and some excellent off-loading out of the tackle.

The second half was played at a fast and furious pace as the Narberth half time instructions to their players was to spread the ball as wide as possible and stretch the Emlyn defence. Their flankers Tom Powell and Sean Jenkins were outstanding and dominated the rucks. Jenkins was especially impressive with the number of turnovers he managed to achieve allowing Powell free rein to run in support of his backs, enabling him to score two second half tries.

After some excellent, if at times desperate, defending by Emlyn during this frantic opening period Narberth eventually added to their score after fifteen minutes, with the first of Powell’s tries converted by Gale. Quickly followed by an excellent cross field kick by outside half Rogers saw Gale gather the bouncing ball and cross for a try which he converted. Rogers’s kicking was a thorn in Emlyn’s side throughout the match as he cleverly checked Emlyn’s rush defence, and it was another kick that saw full back Ianto Griffiths pick up the bouncing ball, sprint some thirty metres and cross in the corner for an unconverted try.

With ten minutes to go Emlyn were looking at a rather embarrassing defeat but, showing tremendous character, the red and whites came back at Narberth and finally began to play some of the rugby which their supporters have become accustomed to watching. A series of drives up field was followed by an excellent break by centre Steffan Evans. When he was brought down some ten metres out the Emlyn forwards won a quick ruck and the ball was moved out to flanker Callum Evans who crossed wide out for a try. From the restart Emlyn looked to run the ball back at Narberth from inside their own twenty two, but it about summed up Emlyn’s performance when one of the forwards knocked the ball on and Narberth picked it up and put Powell over for his second try converted by Gale.

Not downhearted, Emlyn kept coming at Narberth and from a lineout on the Narberth ten metre line outside half Mitchell Jones executed a perfect cross field kick which was caught by winger Dan Davies who rounded the Narberth defence to score an unconverted try. From the restart Narberth were penalised and a quickly taken tap penalty caught the home side napping. Emlyn made ground and were awarded another penalty and Steffan Evans took it quickly and crossed for a try which he converted. Again Emlyn went desperately in search of the fourth bonus point try but, with time running out, their last attack floundered on the Narberth twenty two metre line.

As the season draws to a close Emlyn embark on their last away game of the season next week when they travel to the home of the unbeaten League Champions Pontypool. They then return to Dol Wiber for their final two matches on the 7th April against Beddau and 14th April against Newbridge.


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