09 April 2017 / Team News

Emlyn defeat Glynneath in a fast and open game


On a beautiful spring day at Dol Wiber Emlyn defeated Glynneath in a fast and open game. The visitors from the Neath Valley have been something of a bogey side for Emlyn since they have been in the Championship and this was their first victory over them in a League fixture. In the end it was the power of the home side’s pack, coupled with an outstanding display by their back row that sealed the victory which assures Emlyn of finishing in fifth position in the League table.

Glynneath had a set of three-quarters that posed a constant threat to the home defence, especially in the first half when, if they had managed to convert two scintillating breaks they would have been in the lead rather than trailing by 14 -8. Their outside half Corey Jenkins looked to run the ball at Emlyn every time they had possession and in outside centre James Roberts they had a class operator who stretched the Emlyn defence time and again. Unfortunately for them their pack were shorn of a couple of regular operatives and struggled to obtain any worthwhile possession, and as the game went into the second half they found it difficult to get out of their own half for long periods.

As a unit and individually the Emlyn pack were dominant at all aspects of play. They managed to recover from the very early loss, through an ankle injury, of skipper Alex Williams to turn in a commanding performance. Second row Ryan Morgans reigned supreme in the line out, supplying scrum half Dafydd Evans with a constant stream of possession from his two handed catches and delivering quick ball from the top of his jump, and he was ably assisted by his fellow partner Bleddyn Davies. The front row of props Jack Parry and Gethin Davies along with replacement hooker Tom Curry were solid at scrum time and all carried the ball purposefully in the loose. The stars of the day for the home side had to be the back row of flankers Owain Powell and Joel James and number eight Luke Kendall. Glynneath found the powerful running in the loose of James and Kendall almost impossible to halt with the pair not only regularly crossing the gain line but taking two or three defenders with them. Powell was at his scavenging best, tackling and turning the ball over and in the second half combining well with centres Richard Hope and Tomi Jones to nullify any potential Glynneath attacks.

The first score came after some eight minutes play and came from the first worthwhile possession Glynneath had when outside centre James Roberts made a lovely outside break from the half way line. Brought down by some desperate Emlyn defenders the ball was quickly recycled for scrum half Alex Burton to cross for an unconverted try. Emlyn came straight back at the visitors and some powerful runs by props Parry and Davies took play deep into the visitors twenty two but Glynneath just managed to clear their lines.

The next twenty minutes was basically all Emlyn pressure as they went through phase after phase of attacks but were unable to breach a solid Glynneath defence. Their speedy back five were able to spread out across the field to help their backs defend and despite the quality of first phase possession Emlyn were obtaining they lacked any sort of variety with which to breach the visitors defence. Eventually they changed tactics and from a line out some ten metres out for the Glynneath line the forwards kept the ball. When their drive was halted scrum half Dafydd Evans fed Luke Kendall with a short pass and the number eight was unstoppable from two metres out and he crossed for a try converted by full back Shaun Leonard.

The Glynneath three-quarter line always looked threatening when they had the ball and outside half Corey Jenkins and inside centre Greg Roberts made two excellent breaks which on another day would have led to tries. To their credit the Emlyn scramble defence just managed to get back and haul the attackers down short of the line, although they did concede one penalty which full back Dylan Francis converted to regain a slender lead for the visitors.

As half time approached Glynneath kicked the ball downfield and from inside his own half Leonard decided to run the ball back at them rather than aimlessly kick it back at them. The full back beat some four defenders and from the resultant rucks Joel James carried the ball at pace into the twenty two, another quick recycle saw the ball in Kendall’s hands and when he looked as if he was going to be brought down short if the line he slipped a sublime pass to supporting winger Llyr Jones who crossed under the posts for a try Leonard converted to give Emlyn a rather unexpected half time lead.

The second half was all about Emlyn attacking and Glynneath defending and with the home side adopting a more conservative approach to the game it was the visitors who were forced to kick downfield rather than run the ball at Emlyn. Emlyn had an excellent start to the half when after only three minutes they extended their lead. From a scrum in the Glynneath twenty two outside half Mitchell Jones called a backs move and the two centres Hope and Jones ran dummy lines which completely fooled the defenders and Shaun Leonard ran through the gap created to score a try which he converted himself.

Emlyn looked to have extended their lead and gained the bonus point try when from a scrum in the middle of the field, on the Glynneath ten metre line, Emlyn partially turned the scrum to take the visitors back row further from the action. Again Jones called a move involving the back row and backs and when the final pass was given Leonard looked to be clean through without a hand being laid on him only for the excellent referee Richard Brace to be right in line with that last pass and he called it forward.

Emlyn were undeterred and continued to attack mainly through the ball carrying of their forwards. Joel James was outstanding in his timing of the run onto the ball and he proved to be a real handful for the Glynneath defenders, more often than not it would take three defenders to bring him down. Time after time Glynneath desperately managed to halt Emlyn attacks without conceding any penalties. When Emlyn were awarded a penalty just inside the Glynneath half Emlyn opted for the kick to the corner. From the line out another excellent take by Ryan Morgans saw all the forwards gather round him for the drive and there was very little Glynneath could do to halt the drive and Emlyn’s number eight Luke Kendall was accredited with the score converted by Leonard.

The fifth and final try of the day came on the half hour mark and proved to be the most popular of the day. From some loose play on the ten metre line the ball came back on the Glynneath side. The ever alert Owain Powell was quick to pick up the ball and sprint some thirty five metres to cross for his first try of the season, a fitting reward for all his hard, often unseen work, in the loose, the try was converted by Leonard. Coach Marc Lloyd now emptied his bench and there was a cameo performance from forwards coach Arwel Davies playing for the first time for nearly two years. Davies, in the veteran stages of his career, volunteered for action owing to the number of injuries the club have in the second row position and he showed some deft touches in his ten minute appearance.

The season for the 1XV ends next Saturday with the visit of Tata Steel to Dol Wiber and it is a great credit to the players and coaching staff that they will be able to look back on their second season in the Championship having finished a hugely creditable fifth in what is undoubtedly a very hard and unforgiving league.

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