10 January 2016 / Team News

Emlyn though to next round of Cup


Newcastle Emlyn progressed to the next round of the SWALEC CUP with this hard fought victory, in quite horrendous conditions, over Glynneath. Played in continuous heavy rain and on a pitch resembling a paddy field it was a credit to both sides that they still endeavoured to play attacking rugby. The game could easily have become a battle of attrition between the forwards but that did not happen as both sides attempted to open the game up and provided quite a spectacle for the watching supporters.

Emlyn’s victory in the end was due to the fact that their forwards managed to exert enough pressure on Glynneath, when they found themselves in the home sides twenty two area, for the hosts to be forced into mistakes and concede points. The Emlyn side showed a number of changes from the side that played Bridgend Athletic as coach Marc Lloyd utilised his squad to the full. He would undoubtedly have been delighted to have flanker Gareth Patterson back in their ranks and he proved to be a real thorn in Glynneath’s side with his driving runs and powerful mauling.   

Other Emlyn players, who are not regular starters, to catch the eye were young debutant outside half Mitchell Jones who proved to have a safe pair of hands and a good boot on him when required. Student winger Josh Congreve, in for the unavailable Dan Davies, worked hard in attack and defence and put a great deal of pressure on the opposition full back when chasing kicks especially in the second half. Young Gareth Thomson playing at flanker also turned in a useful performance especially in the line out where he took a number of fine two handed catches.

Emlyn began positively and put together some excellent drives with forwards and backs combining well to retain possession as they drove towards the home side’s line. Some desperate defending kept them out and a penalty kick resulted in the home side not only relieving the pressure but ending up inside the Emlyn half. The home side went through a series of plays by their scrum half feeding the forwards who carried well at the Emlyn defence. Led by skipper Dai Jones who put in a number of low tackles Emlyn looked to have weathered the storm only for the backs to creep off side enabling centre Lloyd Thomas to kick a penalty goal to open the scoring for Glynneath.

The game then entered a period of play where both sides seemed unable to establish themselves in their opponents half for any length of time. It settled into a pattern whereby the team in possession would go through a series of drives and then decide to kick for position. To their credit both full backs proved to be extremely safe under the high ball with Emlyn’s Shaun Leonard having another good game. After some twenty minutes Glynneath conceded a penalty some thirty five metres out but Leonard’s attempt from the mud went just wide of the posts.

This did not deter the visitors and some powerful runs by second row Bleddyn Davies and Patterson carried play up to the Glynneath line on a number of occasions. Outside half Mitchell Jones varied his play nicely and hoisted a huge up and under. Panic ensued in the home side’s defence and they were forced to concede a penalty by their posts. With everyone expecting Emlyn to kick the three points Shaun Leonard spotted that a number of home players had turned their backs to him. He took a quick tap penalty and dived over to score a try which he converted.

Glynneath came back at Emlyn as the first half drew to its conclusion but found the Emlyn defence, led by prop Jones and number eight Stephen Leonard, in no mood to concede a try. One series of attacks by Glynneath began with a line out five metres out from Emlyn’s line and ended up with the visitors being awarded a scrum outside their twenty two. Their only scoring opportunity came with the last kick of the half when Lloyd Thomas was just wide with a long range penalty effort.

The beginning of the second half saw the Emlyn forwards really exert some control on matters. Thomson’s excellent two handed line out takes saw the red and whites put together some powerful forward surges with Patterson, Leonard and Davies to the fore. When Glynneath attempted to kick their way downfield for position full back Leonard, with his huge boot, drove them back deep into their own twenty two. The pressure was bound to tell in the end, and with the Emlyn front row of Jones, Bedwyr Davies and the massive Gethin Davies scrummaging powerfully it was no surprise that from a scrum five metres out from the home line the home side collapsed the scrum with Leonard on the point of crossing the line with the ball at his feet. The excellent referee Morgan Whitehead had no hesitation in awarding a penalty try which Shaun Leonard converted.

Both sides continued to attempt to run the ball but conditions were deteriorating rapidly with the area between the two twenty two metre areas becoming a sea of mud and water. Leonard extended Emlyn’s lead with a penalty kicked from the mud, after some twenty five minutes. Try as they did the home side found themselves driven back deep into their own half every time they made progress upfield, firstly by the Emlyn tacklers and then the accurate kicking of Leonard and outside half Jones.

The clinching score came from a comedy of errors by the home side as they attempted to run the ball at Emlyn from their own half. Their left wing fielded a kick by Leonard and found himself tackled as he gathered the ball, he passed infield to a supporting player who was engulfed by the Emlyn kick chase. The ball went loose and replacement Emlyn flanker Gethin Davies picked the ball up, ran some fifteen metres and was able to offload out of the tackle to scrum half Mike Jones. On his first start after his return from injury Jones needed no second invitation to sprint some thirty metres to score under the posts for a try converted by Leonard.

Referee Whitehead consulted his watch and realised that as seventy minutes had been played the score would stand and blew for the end of the game. The Emlyn coaches will be under no illusion as to the task that faces them when they return to Glynneath for what could be an all-important League fixture in April. The home side look to have some quality three-quarters who, on a dry pitch, will pose problems for the red and whites.

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