21 October 2018 / Team News

Mighty Pooler too strong for brave Emlyn


What a difference in a week! Last Saturday Dôl Wiber was under some six foot of flood water as Storm Callum wreaked havoc in the Teifi Valley. Seven days later, thanks to the tremendous efforts of a large number of volunteers, Dôl Wiber looked a picture and the pitch had dried out to provide a perfect playing surface for this match against the league leaders, and favourites for the Championship, Pontypool. Pooler have always enjoyed their visits to Emlyn and Saturday proved to be no exception with the mighty men from Gwent running in no fewer than eight tries. It was not, however, the one way traffic the scoreline suggests and the red and whites, to their credit, competed manfully throughout the match. The Emlyn pack worked tremendously hard against the massive Pontypool outfit, who were at least two to three stone a man heavier than the home forwards.

The Pontypool side is composed of players with regional and premiership experience as they seek to bring back to the town the glory years of the seventies. But for the first half hour it was the home side who were calling the shots as Emlyn played some of their best rugby of the season so far. Emlyn’s youngsters in the pack, hooker Lee Griffiths, second row Steff Lloyd, and Emlyn’s man of the match flanker Jon Hill were prominent in everything the home side put together. The early pressure came from the visitors but they found the home defence impossible to break down despite going through a number of forward drives. Hill, in fact, won a turnover which allowed the red and whites to clear their lines.

With both sides looking to run the ball from anywhere on the field the large crowd were treated to a feast of rugby. It was the home side who opened the scoring when a Pooler attack broke down on the half way line. Emlyn, through Hill, turned the ball over and the ball was rapidly moved into the hands of centre Andrew Owens who burst down the wing and fed Emlyn speedster Llyr Jones. The winger made good yards and, when the cover came across to force him into touch, he threw a long inside pass to the scrum half Dafydd Evans who crossed for the opening try, well converted by full back Shaun Leonard.

Emlyn however had tweaked the tiger’s tail and Pooler’s response was both predictable and highly effective. Scrum half Quick used the box kick to advance down field and set up camp in the Emlyn twenty two area. Desperate defence eventually led to the home defence conceding a penalty kick and the visitors went for touch. The catch and subsequent drive from five metres out is extremely difficult to stop legally and, when it is a side with a monstrous set of forwards, it is almost impossible to halt and it was Pooler number eight Ben Sparks who was credited with the touchdown for an unconverted try.

Things looked ominous for the home side as the visitors tightened up their game and just used the forwards to pummel at the Emlyn defence. Emlyn’s defence was well organised and committed and they looked to have withstood the pressure when they put in a long relieving kick which saw the ball land on the Pooler ten metre line. Unfortunately the Emlyn chasers suffered a severe loss of concentration and some non-existent tackling allowed full back Walsh to glide through some five would be tackles before feeding the supporting Sparks, who sprinted over by the posts for outside half Mathew Lewis to convert.

Their lead was short lived and the Emlyn score when it came, some four minutes later, had the large crowd on their feet in rapturous applause. Not for the first time a Pooler attack floundered on the half way line against the solid home defence, extremely well marshalled by captain, centre Steff Evans. The ball was swiftly transferred out to flying winger Llyr Jones who needed no second invitation to outstrip any covering defenders and sprint some fifty metres to score a try converted by Leonard.

Any thoughts Emlyn had of going into half time with a slender lead were quickly dispelled when Pooler decided to utilise their backs, moved the ball out to the wing and back inside to the supporting Quick who crossed for a try converted by Lewis. Then deep into time added on for injuries they added to their total from a catch and drive from a line out, the score being accredited to hooker Ben Parry, converted by Lewis.

The visitors started the second half in top gear, with their forwards winning the restart from their own kick, and the ball ended up in the hands of centre Kieron Meek who crossed for a try converted by Lewis. Emlyn replied immediately and spent the next ten minutes camped in the Pooler half as they tried to break through a very well organised visitors defence. The closest they came to crossing the line came from a line out when the forwards drove from some ten metres out, the drive was halted but replacement scrum half Mike Jones thought he spotted a gap on the blind side and fed winger Dan Davies. Unfortunately for Emlyn the visitors were aware of the danger and managed to get Davies into touch.

It took the visitors until the fifteen minute mark before they extended their lead when, rather against the run of play, Pooler came into the Emlyn twenty two and a quick change of direction of their attack saw Sparks cross for his third try. Unlike previous matches Emlyn’s heads did not go down and they spent the next twenty minutes trying to add to their score. Prop Emrys Davies, number eight Brynmor Jones, and replacement hooker Dai Jones were prominent in a number of drives, as Emlyn went through series after series of rucks in their efforts to break through.

With two minutes of normal time remaining Emlyn did eventually cross the whitewash when they did unto Pooler what Pooler had been doing to them all game. From a line out five metres out Emlyn caught and drove forward and eventually hard working flanker Luke Hansford crossed for an unconverted try. The scoring was not over with and Pooler scored two more tries, one of them a penalty try and the other when a very promising Emlyn attack broke down and the ball was turned over by Pooler, transferred quickly to winger Lloyd Lewis who left an exhausted home defence in his wake for the last score of the game converted by Lewis.

It is rather an old, well used cliché but in this case the score most definitely is not a true reflection of the game. The Emlyn side can be proud of their efforts and the manner in which they approached and played the game. Ably led by Steffan Evans, their three quarter line looked threatening every time they had the ball. The forwards competed really well and showed tremendous composure and patience when in possession of the ball. One hopes that this improvement will be continued next week when they visit Beddau.


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