Home » Vital win boosts Emlyn survival hopes

Vital win boosts Emlyn survival hopes

Strong set piece: Emlyn matched Tata at the lineout
Strong set piece: Emlyn matched Tata at the lineout
Strong set piece: Emlyn matched Tata at the lineout

Newcastle Emlyn 19

Tata Steel 7

IN TERMS of their league season this was an important win for the red and whites as they look to try and ensure their participation in the Championship for next season. The weather ensured that it was never going to be a classic, free flowing encounter, unlike the previous game in Port Talbot which had been a great advert for open attacking rugby. A strong cross wind, allied with a heavy drizzle for most of the match meant that flowing three-quarter movements were almost non-existent.

Emlyn started purposefully and were soon nine points ahead courtesy of three penalties by winger Dan Davies within the first ten minutes. Two of the penalties were awarded at the ruck area as Emlyn tried running the ball at Tata Steel. The third was for a late hit on Emlyn full back Shaun Leonard on his own twenty-two metre line. Unfortunately for the visitors, Leonard had just kicked the ball and the penalty was awarded where the ball landed on Tata’s twenty-two in front of the posts. Tata obviously remembered the impact Leonard had on the previous encounter when he scored two tries and a drop goal and had decided to single him out for some special attention to their cost.

As far as the Emlyn supporters were concerned that basically was it as far as action and attacking rugby went for almost the remainder of the half. Tata Steel’s huge pack of forwards took complete control of the game, driving the lighter Emlyn pack back metres at a time in the scrum, and putting together some very effective driving mauls from the line out.

Emlyn had a certain amount of luck to go with their efforts. Tata looked certain to score a push over try but, as they approached the Emlyn line with the ball at their captain and number eight’s feet, scrum half Ross Pritchard decided he was going to score and in attempting to pick up the ball he knocked it on. Eventually the pressure had to tell and after thirty five minutes referee Stuart Kibble decided enough was enough and awarded Tata a penalty try converted by outside half Steve Lewis.

Reaching the half way line for the first time in a long time galvanised Emlyn into action, and when Tata were penalised at a line out Leonard was just wide with his attempt into the wind. From the drop out a high Emlyn kick was not caught initially by Tata but when it was cleared, they failed to find touch and veteran Emlyn hooker Bedwyr Davies charged down the touchline. Unfortunately when he was tackled some five metres from the line the Emlyn forwards were penalised at the ensuing ruck.

With half time approaching Emlyn were gifted a try by the visitors. From a line out in their own twenty two, for some reason, Tata decided to run the ball using their three-quarters. The pass from the outside half to the centre went behind him, Emlyn’s line speed in defence was first class and the Emlyn backs were quickly up on the mistake. Centre Mitchell Jones dribbled the ball over the line and fell on it for his first try for the club, converted by Dan Davies.

With the wind turning to more of a diagonal slant in Tata Steel’s favour and their pack very much in the ascendancy at the set piece, things looked ominous for Emlyn at the start of the second half. However, it was the Emlyn bench that proved to be the vital element in the host’s victory. In order to try and nullify Tata’s powerful scrum, coach Lloyd introduced prop Gethin Davies into the fray. The powerful scrummaging Davies had an immediate impact when after his first scrum Tata’s loose head Jon Ramsey left the field with an injury. His replacement Mathew Llewelyn, lasted about two minutes before he and Emlyn prop Dai Jones were held responsible for a huge punch up on the half way line and both were given a ten minute rest.

On his return Llewelyn lasted a very short time before he too left the field and the visitors had to opt for uncontested scrums which to be perfectly honest suited the home side more than the visitors. Emlyn coach Marc Lloyd then introduced flanker Gareth Patterson who had a huge influence on the match with his powerful driving through mauls; time and again he disrupted the Tata driving maul. Working effectively with his fellow flanker Joel James and with second row Dylan Davies dominating the front of the line out, Tata’s scoring options basically disappeared against a resolute well-organised defence. Two failed long range penalty efforts were all Tata had to show for a second half which, with the wind in their favour and territorial dominance, should have yielded more points.

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Credit must go to the home sides’ defence which was disciplined and determined and was probably best summed up in the dying minutes of the game when Tata tried to run the ball at Emlyn on the half way line. Emlyn veteran outside half Barry Thomas timed his tackle to perfection and really crunched his opposite number to snuff out the attack before it could develop. With their pack unable to function in the same manner as the first half and their backs looking disjointed, Emlyn came a lot more into the game as the half progressed. With five minutes to go Emlyn extended their lead when Dan Davies kicked another penalty, which turned out to be the last score of the game.