31 March 2019 / Team News

Last gasp win for Emlyn

NEWCASTLE EMLYN 29 NEWBRIDGE 28 Emlyn went into this game knowing that nothing less than a five point victory would suffice in their effort to climb out of the relegation zone. The cheer that greeted the award of a penalty kick to Emlyn with the home side trailing by two points deep into injury time said a great deal for the tension their loyal supporters felt. The silence was palpable as Dan Davies lined what was undoubtedly a kick at the posts at the very limit of his range. Dol Wiber erupted when the kick just scrapped over the bar to give the home side the lead for the first time in the match. The excellent referee Dylan Wyn Jones deemed that there was still time for the restart, and fortunately for the home side the ball was caught, a maul set up and scrum half Dafydd Evans hoofed the ball into the stand to end the game and bring a much needed victory to the red and whites.


 Trailing at half time by twenty-eight points to twelve a home victory seemed very far away for the home side. Despite some nice build ups by the home side Emlyn were guilty of squandering some clear cut opportunities. An early attacking move right after the kick off saw a three man overlap squandered when a home player took the contact rather than pass the ball. The reply from Newbridge was immediate and showed that they had come with every intention to move the ball around the park at every opportunity. Some excellent handling and running by backs and forwards and some woeful tackling by Emlyn eventually saw second row Anthony Symons cross for a try under the posts converted by full back Lewis Hudd. Hudd proved to be thorn in Emlyn’s side all afternoon as his powerful speedy runs from full back split the Emlyn defence on a number of occasions.


The first half proved to be end to end rugby with both sides looking to spread the ball every opportunity. The galling thing for Emlyn supporters was that the home defence looked fragile to say the least. Time after time Emlyn’s first up tackler either missed his man or was shrugged off. It took the home side until nearly half way through the first half before they managed to put together a concerted series of attacks which eventually saw outside half Sion Edwards cross for a try converted by Dan Davies to bring the scores level.


Newbridge’s reply was almost immediate as Emlyn made a hash of gathering the restart and gifted possession back to the vistors leading eventually to a try for their hard working openside flanker Luke Morgan, converted by Hudd. They extended their lead shortly afterwards when an Emlyn attempted penalty kick to touch fell short of the touchline, and was gathered by Newbridge just inside their twenty two area. Instead of kicking downfield the visitors opted to run the ball and some excellent handling by forwards and back saw the ball moved across the field to left winger Tyler Lewis. Where the Emlyn defence was, is a to ask during the week as the winger sprinted some thirty metres, without a hand being laid on him, to score a try in the corner, excellently converted by Hudd.


Emlyn question for the coaches on the other hand were finding it difficult to make any inroads against a well organised Newbridge defence. Their patience was eventually rewarded when after a series of rucks close to the visitors line hard working scrum half Dafydd Evans spotted a gap on the blindside and darted over for an unconverted try in the corner. Newbridge however seemed to have the ability to score at will and with Hudd running powerfully from full back the Emlyn defence struggled to hold them at bay. They did eventually get their fourth bonus point try when number eight Mike Preece stretched out over the line to score a try converted by Hudd as half time approached.


For Emlyn to have any chance of winning the game it was important that they were the ones who scored first at the beginning of the second half. When some two minutes into the half an excellent series of drives saw Shaun Leonard force his way over the try line only for the ball to be knocked from his grasp as he went to ground it. Many felt the writing was on the wall and it was not going to be Emlyn’s day, fortunately the players had other ideas. Outside half Sion Edwards had to leave the field at half time with a leg injury to be replaced by Teifion Davies, which led to Steff Evans being moved to outside half and the whole dynamic of the Emlyn game altered. Davies is nothing if not an elusive ball carrier and he has been sorely missed by the side for most of the season. The hard ground and excellent running conditions suited him down to the ground and he soon began to pose problems for the visitors defence.


On the quarter hour mark Davies rounded a couple of defenders and created space for his support runners outside him. The final pass to winger Llyr Jones was woeful but Jones managed somehow to get one hand on the bouncing ball, keep it in play and just manage to control it long enough to score in the corner. Dan Davies added the extra points with an excellent touchline conversion. This inspired the home side and they really took control of the game with the Emlyn pack starting to dominate their much bigger opponents especially at scrum time. Hard working props Ifan James and Lewis Jonathan had worn their opponents down with some solid scrummaging and when they were replaced by Dai Jones and Dexter Thomas, Newbridge found their scrum continually retreating and being penalised.


The pressure eventually told on the visitors as the game approached the half hour mark. Penalties at successive scrums close to Newbridge’s line saw Emlyn captain Alex Williams sensibly opt for a scrum each time rather that the kick to touch and driving line out. Eventually, Emlyn number eight Brynmor Jones managed to pick up the ball, as yet another scrum wheeled, and drive over for a try converted by Davies to bring the home side within two points of the visitors.


Unfortunately this galvanised the visitors into action and they came back at Emlyn strongly. Emlyn’s exit kicking strategy was poor and unable to move play further than their own twenty two metre line. A well timed powerful burst through the Emlyn defence by left winger McGovern looked certain to lead to a try. Fortunately for Emlyn winger Dan Davies caught McGovern from behind and brought him down some five metres from the Emlyn line. The referee deemed the tackle high and yellow carded Davies. Then for some unfathomable reason Newbridge declined the kick at goal from in front of the posts and opted to run the ball instead! Fortunately for the home side a Newbridge forward then knocked the ball on to compound their decision to turn down three points.


With time running out a strong burst by Brynmor Jones took play just inside the Newbridge half and when they were penalised at the ruck, Davies stepped up to take the match winning kick. Fortune was certainly on the side of the red and whites in the second half and one can only hope that they are able to build on this victory and approach their remaining matches with a certain amount of confidence. Next up is a visit to the steel men of Port Talbot, Tata Steel, always a difficult task but one the red and whites must win to stand any chance of escaping the relegation battle.

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