14 April 2019 / Team News

Important Five Points for Emlyn

NEWCASTLE EMLYN 28  MAESTEG QUINS 12  This bonus point win still keeps Emlyn’s hopes of avoiding relegation alive. With as many as seven sides battling to survive in the Championship it is impossible to predict the final outcome. Indeed it could well go down to the final game of the season. The only thing the red and whites can do is win their last two matches, starting next week with Tata at home, and pick up at least one bonus point preferably two. The only advantage, or it could be a disadvantage for Emlyn, is that the other sides in the relegation dogfight have to play the top three sides at least once before they complete their season.

After their poor showing last week against Tata Steel Emlyn were far more positive and accurate in what they did in this match. Playing into a strong breeze in the first half, it was the home side who dominated proceedings with the forwards showing admirable control as, time and again, they drove at the visitors. The Emlyn front row of props Dai Jones and Lewys Jonathan, along with hooker Lee Griffiths, were superb and more than held their own against much heftier opponents at scrum time, and were all very active around the field carrying the ball well. Griffiths was extremely accurate at the line out and continually found the Emlyn jumpers Osian Davies and Brynmor Jones. With a steady stream of possession coming his way scum half Dafydd Evans controlled matters behind his pack extremely well.

Emlyn were the first to score, after just ten minutes, when a series of attacks were repulsed by the visitors, only for them to concede a penalty kick. Knowing that four tries was their priority they turned down a relatively easy penalty kick and put the ball into touch for a line out. Cleanly taken ball by Davies saw the pack drive for the line only to be halted by stern defence. Undeterred, the team went through a series of rucks until mobile prop Lewys Jonathan side-stepped his way past two defenders to score by the posts, for winger Dan Davies to convert.

Making good use of the wind, the visitors came back at Emlyn from the restart and eventually a penalty award allowed them to set up camp in the Emlyn twenty-two. In the previous encounter they had used the driving maul from the line out to great effect and this was obviously going to be their tactic on Saturday. Emlyn have struggled all season to defend against this maul and it came as no surprise when, on the quarter hour mark, flanker Matt Tidball forced his way over for the Quins opening try from such a move, converted by centre Lee Rowan.

Fortunately for the home supporters the Emlyn forwards managed to sort out their defence and nullify future attempts by the Quins to pressurise the home line with the driving maul. Credit must go to second row Emrys Davies and flankers Gareth Thomson and Luke Hansford for their hard work in this area. Despite playing with the wind at their back, Maesteg Quins struggled to find any distance with their relieving kicks and when they did put the ball into the Emlyn twenty-two Emlyn full back Shaun Leonard used his powerful boot to drive the ball back into the visitors half on numerous occasions.

However, despite their forward dominance, Emlyn found it difficult to breach the well organised and committed visitors defence. It took until the half hour mark before they were able to retake the lead, and it came courtesy of some clever play by scrum half Evans. Some excellent carries by Thomson, Jonathan and David Jones had taken play close to the visitors’ line and Evans, instead of just feeding the next forward to carry the ball on, ran a parallel line with the try line and passed back inside to Emrys Davies. The big prop, playing in the second row, needs no second invitation when he sees the line before him and crashed through some would be tacklers to score by the posts for Davies to convert, to give Emlyn a seven point lead at half time.

The second half could not have started in a more positive manner for the red and whites. From the kick off some aggressive first up tackling saw Maesteg pinned in their own half. From a line-out, just outside the Quins twent- two, the ball was passed to outside half Steff Evans. Playing in the unaccustomed role of number ten, he calmly cross kicked to left winger Dan Davies, the kick was judged to perfection. Davies jumped, caught the ball, stepped inside his opposite man and powered past the full back to score a try which he converted. Davies looked extremely sharp and posed a threat to the Quins defence every time he touched the ball.

Like all teams in the Championship, Maesteg Quins are nothing if not determined opponents and responded in the best possible manner by running the ball back at Emlyn with every opportunity. Their massive number eight Mike Owen, time and again, attacked the Emlyn defence from the base of the scrum but found the Emlyn defence up to the task of stopping him. Well organised by Evans, centre Teifion Davies was superb as, time and again, he halted Owen before the number eight had crossed the gain line.

Using the wind effectively Steffan Evans and Shaun Leonard pinned the Quins back in their half and Emlyn looked to have added to their lead when a long kick downfield by Evans saw speedy centre Mike Jones race after the kick. The ball rolled over the try line and Jones dived on the ball much to the astonishment of the Quins defender who, fortunately for him, was deemed to have just touched it with his fingertips before Jones dived on the ball.

The all-important fourth try took a long time coming and when it did it came from a quite unexpected situation. Without a powerful kicker Quins had to resort to trying to run the ball out of their half. Unfortunately they found the Emlyn defence in resolute mood and pressed up hard on the Maesteg Quins players. With the red and white line right in their faces, any sort of attempt to move the ball was fraught with danger and so it proved when a Maesteg Quins pass ended up in the hands of scrum half Dafydd Evans. The nippy scrum half needed no second invitation to sprint some twenty metres to score under the posts for Davies to add the extra points.

With time running out Quins desperately ran everything back at Emlyn in their attempt to at least get a losing bonus point but some excellent defending by winger Llyr Freeman and number eight Brynmor Jones ensured Emlyn did not panic. With two minutes remaining replacement centre Aled Evans did cross for a consolation score for the visitors.

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