NEWCASTLE EMLYN became the first ever winners of the WRU Division One West League title on Wednesday night when they defeated Gorseinon at Dol Wiber. With a number of players still suffering from the effects of Sunday’s cup final, Director of Rugby Marc Lloyd was forced to make a total of nine changes from Sunday’s starting line-up. It was a tribute to the strength in depth of the squad and also the excellent coaching they have received all season from Lloyd, player coach Arwel Davies and scrum specialist Charles Gale that these players were able to slot in and perform in the manner they did to clinch the title with one game left. Knowing that a bonus point win would give them the Championship, Emlyn started the game at a rate of knots and soon put the Gorseinon line under a great deal of pressure. However Gorseinon had not read the script and were not prepared to roll over and hand the title to the home side. They defended their line resolutely and the first half saw almost total Emlyn territorial dominance but when the excellent referee Justin Williams blew for half time Emlyn only had one try on the scoreboard.
What a try it was, after some fifteen minutes play Gorseinon took a twenty two metre restart and the ball was caught by Emlyn flanker Joel James. He then slipped a pass to oncoming full back Shaun Leonard, his pace took him past two defenders. Leonard off loaded in the tackle to supporting winger Teifi on Davies and when he was tackled he passed to the impressive Joel James who took a defender with him over the line for a try converted by Leonard. The large crowd then settled down expecting a try fest, but it was not to be as a combination of over complication behind, poor option taking and the stern Gorseinon defence meant that there were no further additions to the score in the first half. The half time team talk by coaches Lloyd and Davies must have been worth listening to as it had an immediate effect on the home side. Emlyn went back to doing what they do best, using forwards to set up two, three phases of play then moving it wider. In number eight Luke Kendall and Joel James they had two back row forwards who carried the ball with purpose always taking at least a couple of defenders out with their powerful runs. The Emlyn front row of props Dai Jones and Gethin Davies along with hooker Bedwyr Davies had the upper hand all evening and the next score originated from a scrum. Gorseinon managed to wheel two Emlyn attempts at push over tries and on the third scrum the ball was moved wide for outside half Steffan Evans to use his strength to force his way over the line for a try converted by Leonard.
Lloyd now started to empty the Emlyn bench when an arm injury forced Joel James off to be replaced by Brynmor Jones and there proved to be no let up for the visitors defence as Jones linked well with Kendall to carry the ball at the visitors line. The two second rows, of returning skipper Gethin Greves and Bleddyn Davies also supported the runners intelligently as did the front row. When regular scrum half Mike Jones came on to replace the rapidly developing back row forward Gareth Thomson this necessitated a tactical switch. Owain Powell reverted to his normal open side position and then veteran Arwel Davies replaced Bleddyn Davies, Gorseinon’s hopes of getting anything from the game virtually disappeared.
The tempo of the game increased greatly and the off loading out of the tackle was a joy to behold as Emlyn went in search of the two tries which would hand them the title. But with the introduction of greater experience from the bench there was far greater control to the Emlyn game. The wild passes and over ambitious moves of the first half were a thing of the past as Emlyn laid siege to the visitors line. The third try came from a fine two handed line out catch by Arwel Davies and a drive to the Gorseinon line, held up short, the ball was moved back on the blind side for powerful number eight Kendall to cross for a try converted by Leonard.
From the restart Leonard caught the ball and went on a long mazy run and ignoring the support outside him the full back looked certain to score the all important fourth try but a desperate tackle from behind brought him down a couple of metres from the line. With hooker Alex Williams and prop Gareth Lloyd on the field giving the home side not only fresh legs but greater scrum power due to their freshness, the home side camped on the visitors line. Scrum after scrum was wheeled to be reset, drives close to the scrum were stopped by determined tackling.
Eventually the ball was moved wider for centre Alun Howells to come on a run back to the forwards. When he was held up it was his co-centre Viv Jenkins who managed to rip the ball out of the maul and cross for the fourth try, greeted by a huge roar from the crowd, converted by Leonard. Gorseinon never gave up and ran the ball back at the home team at every opportunity. In centre Andrew Burden they had a powerful runner who took some stopping and scrum half Jack Gronow tried his best to get his threequarter line moving, but as many sides have found out this year, breaching the Emlyn defence is not an easy job and defensively as well as in attack Howells and Jenkins have proven to be an excellent combination.
Emlyn by now were rampant running the ball from all parts of the field with the confidence of a side that knew they had the game and championship won. Both wingers Teifi on Davies and fireman Daniel Davies were bundled into touch short of the line after excellent runs. The fifth and final try was an absolute gem scored in the dying minutes of the game. From a midfield scrum just inside the Gorseinon half, Kendall picked up from the base drew two defenders and put scrum half Mike Jones away on another run. He then drew the last defender and slipped the pass to the supporting Leonard who crossed for a try, which he was unable to convert to complete the scoring. * With the title already won Emlyn went away to Crymych for their final game and went down to a heavy 41-8 defeat to their nearest rivals. It will have mattered little to Emlyn who capped a season that saw them in a Millennium Stadium final with the league trophy. However it will serve
Scarlets’ grassroots clubs show community spirit in delivering vital food packages
Scarlets community clubs have been working together to help deliver vital food packages across the region.
Volunteers from grassroots clubs and WRU girls hubs across Ceredigion, Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire have been helping take the food packages to vulnerable members of society who are self-isolating during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The clubs have teamed up with the Scarlets Community Foundation — the charity arm of the Scarlets — and Carmarthen-based food wholesaler Castell Howell, while Scarlets players Osian Knott, Kieran Hardy, Ryan Conbeer and Jac Morgan have also lent their hand to the operation.
More than 300 packages were due to be delivered on Monday and Tuesday (April 6 & April 7), with the initiative highlighting that even without any action on the field, rugby clubs remain at the heart of their community.
Scarlets Community Foundation manager Caroline Newman said: “We have been overwhelmed with the support that we have received from local clubs, the number of people prepared to volunteer to help the most vulnerable in our communities has been touching.
“People’s reasons for requesting packs have often been heart-wrenching and it really has made us appreciate what we have.
“The foundation has worked closely with Castell Howell to make sure the packages are ready to go to those whose need is greatest, managing to turn things around pretty quickly and I’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone involved in making this happen, our funder, Castell Howell, all the clubs, our helpline volunteer and the foundation members.
“Great teamwork which has made me proud to be part of the fantastic community that rugby creates.”
Here are the rugby clubs and WRU girls rugby hubs taking part in the initiative
Aberaeron, Aberystwyth, Amman Utd, Ammanford, Burry Port, Betws, Bynea, Cardigan, Cefneithin, Felinfoel, Fishguard & Goodwick, Furnace Utd, Haverfordwest, Kidwelly, Llandeilo, Llandovery, Llandybie, Llanelli Wanderers, Llangennech, Llangwm, Merched Mynydd Mawr, Milford Haven, Narberth, New Dock Stars, Newcastle Emlyn, Neyland, Penybanc, Pontyates, St Clears, Stradey Sospans, Tenby Utd, Tumble, Tycroes, Whitland, Yr Hendy.
Wales v Scotland postponed
WALES’ Six Nations match at home to Scotland on Saturday has been postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak.
The two other Six Nation fixtures had already been postponed and no date has been confirmed to complete the 2020 Championship.
The Welsh Rugby Union had insisted earlier on Friday the game would “go ahead as planned”.
A WRU statement read: “The Welsh Rugby Union has maintained an open dialogue with, and continued to seek advice and direction from, the National Assembly for Wales and other stakeholders, including the Six Nations, on this fast-moving issue.
“Whilst medical advice remains consistent, we have decided that it is in the best interests of supporters, players and staff to fall in line with recent measures taken across the UK and global sports industries.
“The WRU would like to thank all parties for their counsel on the subject and will make further announcements with respect to rescheduling the fixture in the coming days.
“Every effort has been made to stage this game and we appreciate that individuals will have been inconvenienced. Given the fluid and unprecedented nature of this issue a postponement became the only viable option.”
Domestic football at all levels in Wales suspended
THE FOOTBALL Association of Wales has today (13 March) taken the decision to suspend domestic football at all levels in Wales with immediate effect until April 4 due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
The intention at this time will be to resume the football schedule depending on the medical advice and conditions from the relevant authorities at that time.
The FAW is fully aware of the impact this will have on the domestic game but the health and safety of all fans, players, volunteers and stakeholders are of paramount importance.
The FAW will continue to monitor this situation on a day-by-day basis and will continue to provide updates when appropriate.
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