01 March 2020 / Team News

Emlyn win attritional battle

Newcastle Emlyn 9 Felinfoel 3   The weather gods at last relented and the river Teifi decided to remain within its banks allowing Emlyn to play their 1 West League match against fellow challengers and reigning League Champions, Felinfoel. Needless to say conditions were hardly ideal for a free flowing feast of open rugby but the large crowd were treated to an intriguing contest as both sides realised the importance of the victory.

In the end it was the home side who prevailed courtesy of three penalties from the boot of outside half Shaun Leonard to one from Felinfoel full back Aled Roberts. The heavy underfoot conditions and gale force wind blowing across the field made running and handling difficult but it did not deter either side from trying to move the ball and the inevitable errors only added to the excitement.

Emlyn started positively and opened the scoring after twelve minutes when Felinfoel were penalised at the breakdown and Leonard slotted over a difficult kick into the wind from some twenty two metres out. As far as scoring went that was the end of it for the first half, but the game became an intriguing battle between two evenly matched sets of forwards. For Emlyn flanker Gareth Thomson was outstanding in this period, dominating the lineouts with some excellent two handed takes, and carrying the ball powerfully in the loose. Unfortunately for Thomson just as half time approached he was tackled from behind and had to leave the field with what transpired to be a broken leg.

Whereas Emlyn, mainly through Thomson’s efforts dominated the line outs, the two scrums proved to be quite evenly matched allowing both sets of half backs the opportunity to use the ball. Emlyn’s front row of props Emrys Davies and Dexter Thomas along with skipper Alex Williams more than held their own in the tight and were prominent in the loose in attack and defence. Probably the difference between the two sides in the end was the home sides’ defence led by flanker Dafydd Rotie which time and again not only halted Felinfoel drive but drove them backwards.

Some astute use of the wind by Felinfoel’s outside half Johnny George kept Emlyn pinned in their own half for lengthy periods of the first half but they were unable to breach the home defence. Their best scoring opportunity came when they were awarded a penalty kick some fifteen metres out but they decided to run the ball rather than attempt the kick at goal. For Emlyn an interception on half way by scrum half Dafydd Evans saw the scrum half scamper some thirty metres up field but he lacked the out and out pace to reach the corner.

Emlyn increased their lead at the start of the second half when a thundering tackle by Rotie on a Felinfoel player saw the ball spilled to the ground. The ever alert Emrys Davies picked the ball up and accelerated towards the visitors’ line and for a moment looked certain to score. Unfortunately he was brought down on the twenty two metre line but Felinfoel were penalised at the subsequent ruck by the excellent referee Simon Mills. Leonard stepped up to drill the ball between the posts.

The loss of Thomson had led to some re-arrangement of the Emlyn pack with Dan Havard moving back to flanker and Haydn Baldwin coming in to the second row. Fortunately it did not greatly weaken the home pack and Havard and his fellow second row Dyfed Morgan continued to dominate the line outs and work hard in the loose.

Emlyn extended their lead on the quarter hour mark and again it was due to their aggressive defence this time led by centre Teifion Davies and Rotie which forced the visitors to concede a penalty on their ten metre line. Declining to kick for the corner Leonard elected to go for the posts it what was comfortably his most difficult kick of the day. A huge roar greeted the touch judges signalling a successful effort giving Emlyn a vital two score lead.

Both sides upped their efforts to attempt to score a try with Emlyn number eight Elliot Rees being instrumental in starting a number of attacks. Unfortunately the conditions proved to be the winner as, at one point the game was played in a heavy hail storm. With time running out the visitors were awarded a penalty on Emlyn’s ten metre line and full back Aled Roberts converted the kick to give the visitors the consolation of a losing bonus point.

Emlyn now look forward to their next match in a couple of weeks' time when they travel to second place Llangennech. Despite having lost three matches Llangennech have amassed a huge total of try bonus points which has enabled them to gradually close the gap on Emlyn. They have a number of quality players in their side and look to run the ball from anywhere on the field. It promises to be an intriguing encounter and the red and whites will need all the support they can get.





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