WRU Championship.

Glynneath 7 Newcastle Emlyn 20  

Newcastle Emlyn opened up a five point cushion at the bottom end of the table and a further win this weekend away at against relegation strugglers Rhydyfelin will ease the pressure on the red and whites.

Fellow strugglers Beddau are away at Pontypool and Skewen are away at Newbridge so this weekend’s game is vitally important for Marc Lloyd and his men.

Playing up the slope in the first half in dreadful conditions the red and whites started positively and for the first fifteen minutes pressurised the home defence from every phase of play. However, the nearest they came to scoring was from a powerful run by second row Dyfed Morgan who was brought down some five metres short of the line. Morgan enjoyed his best game of the season with some excellent two handed takes in the line out as well as showing admirable discipline in the loose, allied to some powerful running.

When Glynneath eventually got out of their half it was not for long, as outside half Mitchell Jones quickly pinned them back in their half with some accurate kicking from hand. In his first start since recovering from injury the youngster showed his potential with a fine all round performance until he had to leave the field with a nose injury in the second half. His half back partner Dafydd Evans also turned in a first class performance and controlled matters really well behind his pack of forwards.

The deadlock was broken on the half hour mark and it followed a period of sustained pressure by the visitors. An excellent run from full back Ashley Sutton, linking well with winger Llyr Freeman, took play into the hosts twenty-two. From the ruck mobile prop Emrys Davies broke through the first line of defence and cleverly fed scrum half Evans who dived over for the first try of the game, well converted out of the mud by Mitchell Jones.

From the restart the Emlyn forwards ran the ball back at the home side, with open side Owain Powell making an excellent break from the half way line. Unfortunately he did not see prop Davies outside him and, as he approached the twenty two, he cross kicked instead of passing to Davies. From the kick a ruck formed and the home side were penalised, allowing Mitchell to extend the Emlyn lead with a penalty goal. Gaining in confidence the visitors again ran the restart back at the home side and set up camp in the home half. Powerful runs from flanker Joel James, number eight Jack Mason, second row Morgan, and skipper Alex Williams had the home defence at full stretch to keep them out. It came as no surprise when the home side, as half time approached, were once again penalised and Jones extended Emlyn’s lead with another penalty kick. start of the second half saw the Emlyn malaise which has haunted them all season return, conceding needless penalties in the loose. Three in the space of five minutes meant that the initiative was handed back to the home side. Fortunately their defence stood firm and the boot of Mitchell Jones ensured the home side did not come too close to the Emlyn line. Emlyn centres Steffan Evans and Teifion Davies closed down the dangerous home backs quickly and when they tried kicking over the top they found winger Freeman and Sutton up to the task of dealing with any potential threat.

The tempo of the game changed on the fifty minute mark when Emlyn outside half Jones had to leave the field with a nasty looking facial injury. The Emlyn back line was reshuffled with Steffan Evans moving to outside half, Llyr Jones moving into the centre, and Mike Jones coming on to the wing. Not known for his kicking Evans decided that given the conditions his best option when he had the ball was to go straight at his opposite number and this he did with telling effect.

With Morgan supplying a steam of quality line out ball, Evans caused havoc in the home defence and it was probably only the deteriorating conditions that kept the score down. Twice Evans went straight at his opposite number and burst through and he and his team almost scored from both.

It was all Emlyn at this stage and coach Lloyd brought on fresh legs in the pack with second row Dylan Davies and prop Ifan James, and there were cameo performances from these two which maintained Emlyn’s momentum. On the half hour mark, from a line out on the Emlyn twenty two, Evans carried the ball strongly, bursting through two tacklers, when defenders began closing him down he cleverly chip kicked ahead rather than risk a pass. It was Mike Jones, now playing at scrum half, who rose above the defenders to catch the ball and feed supporting prop Emrys Davies. The big prop needed no second invitation to score and he sprinted twenty metres to round off an excellent seventy metre move to score the try, converted by Ashley Sutton.

To their credit the home side never gave up and had the last word, when replacement prop James Vardon manged to crash over from a ruck near the Emlyn line for a try, converted by Jack O’Reilly and with that kick excellent referee Chris Oliver blew the whistle to bring the mud bath to a satisfactory conclusion for the red and whites.

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