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WRU Championship: Emlyn enjoy crucial victory

Difficult conditions: Wind, rain and sodden ground during the game
Difficult conditions: Wind, rain and sodden ground during the game

Newcastle Emlyn 22

Cardiff Met 8

NEWCASTLE EMLYN gained a crucial victory that moved them up the Championship table in terrible conditions, which combined heavy rain with sodden ground, making running rugby incredibly difficult.

The river Teifi has not been kind to Dol Wiber over the last six weeks, completely submerging the whole area under water on at least two occasions. With the floods having subsided Emlyn were finally able to play their first home match since the beginning of December.

Just as both sides were adapting to the heavy underfoot conditions the heavens opened and the remaining fifty-five minutes were played in heavy rain, making handling difficult for both sides. To their credit both sides continued to attempt to play attractive open rugby and the handling skills of all the players on view was to be complimented. The pity is that for both sides the threat of relegation still looms large in a league where the powers that be have ruled that two teams are to be relegated and four promoted.

It was the home side that started positively and placed their visitors under pressure with a series of forward drives through numerous rucks leading eventually to the excellent referee Justin Williams penalising the students defence and winger Dan Davies kicking the penalty goal. The students replied almost immediately with a penalty kick of their own through centre Tom Morgans.

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With Emlyn scrum half Dafydd Evans organising his forwards extremely well it had to be only a matter of time before the home side scored. The first try came after some fifteen minutes when, after another series of rucks, scrum half Evans went on a dart across field and passed back inside to Emlyn prop Gethin Davies who from five metres out is virtually unstoppable, Dan Davies added the extra points.

The next score came from quite an unexpected source just before the heavens opened. From a defensive line out threw the ball straight to Emlyn prop Dai Jones. The prop needed no second invitation to sprint the ten metres and crash over without a hand being laid on him. Davies converted the try.

The students emerged for the second half determined, and with the heavy rain having a greater influence as the game went on, the superior fitness of the university side began to tell. A quickly taken line out by Emlyn, in the students twenty two, saw them win the ball and a determined sequence of drives, allied with some good handling, saw them take play up to the Emlyn ten metre line. Gaining in confidence, a good drive by their forwards had the Emlyn pack struggling to stop them and the balance of the game was swinging in favour of the visitors.

On the 70-minute mark an excellent catch and drive, starting on the half way line, saw Cardiff Met drive the ball some twenty metres upfield. When the ball was eventually released to the backs some excellent straight running and handling saw the ball in the hands of the powerful right-winger Miles Moorhouse. The winger showed good balance and strength to round one defender and step out of another tackle before scoring i n the corner. Fortunately for the red and whites the difficult conversion, which would have brought the students to within seven points of Emlyn, just missed.

Spurred on by another excellent crowd Emlyn were determined not to lose the game. Coach Marc Lloyd emptied his bench and replacement props Emrys Davies and Neil Elworthy made an impact in the tight and loose with some forceful driving play. The tension as the students tried to get the score for a bonus point and Emlyn tried to keep them at bay eventually exploded in a mass brawl on the half way line. Referee Williams was unsighted as to the instigators but decided Emlyn flanker Joel James had to go to the bin for his part in the brawl.

As often happens this inspired the side and Emlyn, led by their flankers Powell and Patterson, pressurised the students forcing them back deep into their own half even when they had the ball. With time running out Emlyn pressure saw the ball dropped and was kicked ahead by Emlyn, and from the resulting ruck deep in their twenty two the ball was turned over and Mike Jones calmly fed Dafydd Evans who scampered over in the corner for the final score of the game.

Saturday sees Emlyn make the difficult trip to the league’s third placed side, Pontypool.

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