09 December 2018 / Team News

A Long-Awaited Win for Emlyn


It had been a long 9 weeks since the scoreboard at Dôl Wiber had shown a win for the Red and Whites and playing mid-table Rhydyfelin who had achieved a comprehensive win 29–0, dominating all aspects of play, in their previous encounter on the 8th September would not have filled the Emlyn team with confidence.

The blustery conditions with a swirling wind made it difficult for either side to gain advantage with their kicking game and although Emlyn were able to put pressure on the Rhydyfelin lineout with some wins against the throw the clearing kicks occasionally went out on the full, due to the conditions, handing the advantage back to the visitors.

On one such occasion Rhydyfelin won the lineout ball cleanly after the kick had gone straight out and following several penetrating drives by the forwards moved it through the hands on the Emlyn 22 metre line. The attack broke down when their outside half fumbled a pass and as the ball went to ground it was hacked forward by one of the Emlyn centres. The visitors regathered but were always under pressure as the Red and Whites advanced. In a last-ditch attempt to clear their lines a Rhydyfelin kick was charged down allowing prop Dai Jones to gather and score under the posts, the conversion by Leonard meant that Emlyn had a 7-point advantage after 20 minutes.

When Rhydyfelin were penalised for not releasing in a tackle Emlyn could not press home the advantage when the kick failed to find touch and was returned, the aerial battle continued until number 8 Brynmor Jones took matters into his own hands charging 20 metres deep into Rhydyfelin territory, unfortunately this promising move ended when the ball was lost forward.

The Red and White’s scrummaging now appeared to be in the ascendancy and quick ball allowed it to be moved swiftly through the hands. A break by centre Steff Evans allowed the forwards to carry the ball close to the visitors’ try line. When Rhydyfelin were penalised for being off-side Emlyn elected to take the scrum, but the ball was lost forward from a maul ending the attack. The Red and Whites pressurised Rhydyfelin’s scrum, but they managed to clear the ball with the kick being gathered by full back Leonard. A quick pass to winger Llŷr Jones allowed him to break the defensive line and move the ball through the hands. His pace allowed him to re-join the attacking move on the opposite side if the field and cross in the corner to give the home side a 12-0 lead.

Soon after the restart Emlyn scrum-half Dafydd Evans was judged to have been offside by referee Andrew Moule of Port Talbot when he pounced on a ball which squirted out of a ruck. Rhydyfelin kicked to touch and were able gather cleanly from the line out. Their forwards carried the ball for several phases but were unable to make much headway against an organised Emlyn defence. The ball was moved through the backs but was soon returned to forwards who after several drives towards the line eventually set up flanker Kevin Briggs to cross in the corner for the visitors, taking the score to 12-5 at the half hour.

Their first score gave Rhydyfelin some confidence and they continued to attack from the restart with powerful drives and rolling mauls allowing them to penetrate deep into Emlyn territory. The Red and Whites were penalised for collapsing a maul which had advanced some 20 metres. The visitors kicked to touch, and Emlyn were again penalised after the lineout, this time for side entry into the maul. The visitors kicked to touch for the second time. During the lineout referee Moule spotted a Rhydyfelin prop pulling down an Emlyn jumper and showed him a yellow card. This allowed full back Leonard to clear to halfway, Emlyn regathered in the ensuing chase and moved the ball back and forth across the field before the promising attack ended in a Rhydyfelin penalty for holding on. The half ended with uncontested scrums due to the yellow card with neither side able to take any advantage.

The visitors started the second half determined to attack, the ball was moved through the hands, their outside centre broke the Emlyn defensive line and allowed full back David Gratton to bring the sides level with a try in the corner which he converted himself.

The Red and Whites used their bench to try and stifle the Rhydyfelin renaissance. Lewys Jonathan and Emrys Davies replaced the props and Gareth Thompson came on for Elliot Rees in the back row. Some changes were also made in the backs with centre Steff Evans taking over at outside half from Sion Edwards while Mike Jones came on as scrum half when Dafydd Evans moved to the wing.

The match continued with neither side gaining the upper hand and any advantage being lost by errors or knock-ons. Matters were not helped by a sudden downpour that drenched the players for several minutes.

As the rain subsided the tenacious Steff Evans gained an Emlyn penalty for holding on in the tackle. The kick went to touch, and the lineout was easily won by number 8 Jones. A Rhydyfelin offence in the lineout gave the Red and Whites a penalty advantage and, knowing he had a free play, full back Leonard succeeded with a long-range drop goal taking Emlyn back into the lead, 15-12 with 15 minutes to play.

Emlyn continued to pressurise with Dafydd Evans also gaining a penalty for holding on in the tackle. Unfortunately, the kick did not reach touch but was knocked on by the Rhydyfelin receiver. The visitors were eventually able to recover possession and clear the ball.

This phase of play was typical of this part of the match with attacks continually breaking down due to knock-ons and errors and both teams failing to take advantage of penalties or possession.

Emlyn eventually won a penalty on half way and the forwards set up a driving maul from the ensuing lineout. They drove time after time but the solid defence from Rhydyfelin held firm. The ball was eventually released and a quick pass to Steff Evans allowed him to cross for the Red and Whites’ third try. Although both touch judges raised their flags referee Moule judged that the kick was just wide. Emlyn now had an 8-point cushion, leading 20-12, with 5 minutes left on the watch.

The home team sensed the possibility of a bonus point and kicked deep into the visitors’ half, securing lineout ball against the throw and setting up a driving maul.  Drive after drive was held up by the excellent Rhydyfelin defence which eventually won a scrum to bring the game to an end.

This was a nervous and occasionally error strewn performance by Emlyn, but they will be hoping that the win will give a confidence boost and provide some momentum to allow them to play their way out of the relegation zone over the coming months.

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