24 November 2019 / Team News

Last gasp win for Emlyn

Yr Hendy 12 Newcastle Emlyn 16   November was always going to be a difficult month for the red and whites with scheduled games against three of the top four sides in the League. With the home game against third placed Llangennech being delayed due to the WRU Plate the away matches against leaders Felinfoel and Yr Hendy took on extra significance. To come away from both encounters with wins has bolstered the red and white's chances of winning this highly competitive League.

Despite the excellent underfoot conditions the match was not a classic of free flowing rugby as defences dominated throughout. Both sides opted for the boot to gain territory and try scoring opportunities were non-existent. The home side defended with discipline and determination and probably deserved in the end a share of the points. Their outside half, Rhidian Morris, proved to be a very capable operator with the boot and time and again made good use of his knowledge of the relatively small home pitch to drive Emlyn back into their twenty two. For Emlyn scrum half Dafydd Evans box kicked accurately and they always had the siege gun boot of full back Shaun Leonard to move the game from a defensive position to an attacking one.

Emlyn were not at their fluent best and struggled to get their phase play going against the determined tackling of the home side who competed fiercely at the contact point. Time and again the carries of number eight Elliot Rees and his fellow forwards came to nothing as Hendy defenders managed again and again to kill the ball at the contact point. The game became a kicking contest and half time arrived with the score level at 9-9. Morris having kicked two penalties and a drop goal for the home side and Leonard kicked three penalties for the red and whites as well as hitting the post with another effort.

The quality of play in the second half did not really improve and it looked as if the game would meander into a draw. Then with ten minutes to go a long kick downfield was caught by Rees in touch and he took a quick throw in to Leonard who sent the ball back some fifty metres. Unfortunately the referee ruled that the ball had not travelled five metres, despite Leonard standing on the fifteen metre line and awarded a free kick to Hendy some five metres from the Emlyn line. Emlyn looked to have weathered the resultant Hendy pressure only for them to be penalised at a scrum and Morris kicked the resultant penalty to give the home side the lead with eight minutes remaining.

The red and whites though have become accustomed to winning matches and came roaring back at the home side from the restart. They forced a knock on and were awarded a penalty from the resultant scrum. The kick was close to touch and skipper Alex Williams opted for the kick to the corner rather than a difficult kick at goal to level the scores. Emlyn won the line out, set up a driving maul and were driving strongly towards the line when the maul collapsed two metres from the Hendy try line. Inexplicably the referee awarded a scrum to the home side and with time running out it looked all over for the visitors.

Emlyn managed to exert enough pressure on the defenders that they were unable to clear the ball out of their twenty two area and back came the red and whites on the attack again. From the line out a Mike Jones run took play close to the Hendy line. The ball was recycled and for the first time in the match the Emlyn forwards went through phase after phase as they pummelled the Hendy line. Elliot Rees, Alex Williams, and Rheon James all carried strongly, James in fact was held up just short of the line on at least three occasions. To their credit the whole Emlyn eight worked to ensure that Yr Hendy could not kill the ball. With penalty advantage being played Emlyn moved the ball wide and winger Dean James managed to force his way over in the corner for a try which Shaun Leonard converted from the touchline with what proved to be the final kick of the game.

This was by no means a classic Emlyn performance but they continue to be one point behind the leaders with a game in hand. Their attention returns to the WRU Plate this week with a potentially difficult return match up in Brynaman on Thursday night, the previous encounter having to be abandoned due to an injury to the referee.  

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