06 March 2016 / Team News

Emlyn rue missed opportunities


On their elevation to the Championship at the beginning of the season one of the fixtures all Emlyn supporters were looking forward to was the visit of the famous Swansea rugby club to Dol Wiber. Many felt that for the Emlyn side it was almost an honour to play against such a famous club with a history of producing not only Welsh but British Lions internationals and their enviable record against touring teams.  On their trip to the iconic St.Helens’ ground in November the red and whites had been soundly beaten by one of the sides in the hunt for promotion to the Premiership.

Perhaps that was the problem on Saturday as the home side undoubtedly played the first half as if in awe of their opponents and their history. If Emlyn had played the first half like they played in the second half they would have won this game at a canter. Even then the second half was error strewn to say the least, as one try scoring opportunity after another was wasted by poor decision making and execution of the final pass.

Early pressure by Emlyn looked to be paying dividends until they decided on a cross kick in Swansea’s twenty two. Unfortunately the decision to kick was telegraphed to the opposition who charged the kick down and outside half Jac Wilson ran the length of the field to score a try which he then converted. Things got worse for Emlyn five minutes later when they allowed Swansea to wheel a scrum allowing number eight Rory Gallagher a free run at the Emlyn backs and two rucks later number six Jack Perkins crossed for an unconverted try in the corner.

   Emlyn did wake up after this score and centre Teifion Davies and full back Shaun Leonard had some powerful runs up field in an attempt to bring Emlyn back into the game. Some excellent re-cycling led to Emlyn’s best opportunity of the half when flanker Brynmor Jones embarked on an elusive run and off loaded to prop Jack Parry who, when tackled in their twenty two, found himself isolated, enabling Swansea to clear their lines.

With Emlyn fielding their biggest pack of the season, an injury on the half hour mark to influential Emlyn number eight Luke Kendall led to him having to be replaced by Gareth Thomson, and Emlyn having to change their game plan. A further injury two minutes later to prop Gethin Davies markedly changed the composition of the Emlyn pack. Fortunately for them their replacements Gareth Thomson and Neil Elworthy proved to be very capable and mobile replacements.

Swansea though, with scrum half Rhodri Wells controlling matters behind his pack of forwards, punished Emlyn mistakes and set up camp in the Emlyn twenty two with half time approaching. Their timing and pace onto the ball from rucks was to be admired and stretched the Emlyn defence. When Emlyn managed to stop a driving maul from a line out the All Whites patiently went through a series of rucks until flanker Perkins crossed for his second try, converted by Wilson just before half time.

To say the Emlyn coaches gave their side a roasting at half time would be an understatement. Their frustration at the mistakes and poor option taking was evident from the stands as they looked to be gifting the game to the All Whites. Some of Emlyn’s play in this half was reminiscent of the beginning of the season. The second half was almost a completely a different story, as despite playing into the breeze Emlyn dominated the game territorially. Second row Ryan Morgans began to win some quality ball at the line out and the Emlyn scrum was much more settled. Running the ball from anywhere on the field they stretched the All Whites defence almost but not quite to breaking point. Some excellent work at the breakdown by their back row of Perkins, Gallagher and Sully, who had an excellent game, managed to thwart a number of Emlyn attacks.

 Emlyn’s score came at the beginning of the half when a series of drives down the left hand touchline drew in the Swansea defenders. A well-judged cross kick caught the All Whites napping and winger Llyr Davies won the race to touch the ball down in the corner for the red and whites score. The score gave Emlyn a much needed injection of confidence and, led by some elusive running by Shaun Leonard, Teifion Davies and Brynmor Jones the visitors were forced to defend desperately.

From a scrum on the half way line a break by Shaun Leonard saw him feed winger Llyr Davies who was brought down just short of the line. Emlyn went for two consecutive scrum drives but the second one was turned, leading to the scrum being awarded to Swansea who were able to clear their lines. Using the slightly diagonal wind to kick for position proved problematic for both sides and the exaltations of the Swansea coaches to maximise the favourable wind in the second half proved fruitless for them.

The last twenty minutes of the game proved to be frantic to say the least. Emlyn ran the ball from all parts of the field, Swansea defended with great organisation and discipline and counter attacked at every opportunity. Brynmor Jones and Teifion Davies were at the fore front of Emlyn’s efforts as time and again they beat the first defender only to be brought down by desperate Swansea cover.

Into the last ten minutes Emlyn could have scored three tries. From inside his own twenty two a break by Shaun Leonard, supported by Brynmor Jones, took play back into Swansea’s twenty two, unfortunately the final pass went astray. It was exhilarating, lung bursting rugby as Emlyn tried desperately to get the second score which would possibly give them a bonus point.

Brynmor Jones burst through some weak tackles on the half way line, passed to the supporting Teifion Davies, who’s inside pass could not quite go to hand. Shaun Leonard, from his own line, counter attacked, drew the full back perfectly only for Davies to pass back inside rather than go for the corner. There was a touch of desperation about the Emlyn play as they went for the all-important second try, a series of forward drives was repulsed by Swansea. When the ball was moved wide the Swansea defence came up aggressively to pressurise the Emlyn attack into making mistakes.

With seconds remaining on the clock outside half Dyfan Dafydd broke from inside his own half, linked with Teifion Davies back to Brynmor Jones, then back again to Davies. The centre realising he might just outpace the defenders to score in the corner passed inside to supporting prop Emrys Davies knowing the score under the posts would guarantee at least a losing bonus point. The pacey prop probably did not realise he had the beating to the line of the chasing defenders and decided to pass inside again. Unfortunately the pass found a defender and Swansea were able to smother the ball and the excellent referee Sean Brickell blew the final whistle on a quite pulsating second half of rugby which unfortunately left the home side pointless.         



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