Newcastle Emlyn 3 Narberth 15: Both c lubs had experienced different starts to the 2018/19 season. Newcastle Emlyn came to the game without a win, but with an encouraging performance against a very strong Cardiff Met team the previous week, whereas the Otters were unbeaten.

The Y Wiber ground alongside the River Teifi was surprisingly firm with a thick covering of grass. The Otters’ senior officers, on inspecting the ground, spotted in the bordering river... an Otter - was this a good luck sign?

Prior to the game, the match sponsors G. D.Harries & Sons Ltd and Young Brothers and several other sponsors, enjoyed pre-match hospitality along with some of the Narberth committee.

Narberth gave Jake Simm a start in the second row and Yannick Parker came in on the wing. Tight-head prop Tom Slater was rested.

The Otters kicked off with rain still gently falling. Both teams showed a determination with strong efforts to break the gain line and robust defence. Both sides attempted high long kicks to either unsettle the defence or cause misfielding of the wet, slippery ball.

The Otters appeared to have the upper hand in the tight and set up a rolling maul which gained ground. Remaining in the Emlyn 22, Ianto Griffiths attempted a drop goal which just went the wrong side of the posts. However, the referee awarded a penalty for an Emlyn infringement during the attempt and Ianto Griffiths made no mistake with the kick this time, giving the Otters three points after 15 minutes.

It became evident that the Emlyn supporters were attempting to influence the referee with their constant calls almost every time the Otters touched the ball, and gained one penalty when the shout went up for a high tackle which had not occurred.

The Otters were attempting to play open rugby, but were unable to break through the defence. Again centre Jack Price was to the fore, attempting to break the gain line and setting up rucks, which often saw the Otters penalised.

Ianto Griffiths failed with a further penalty kick, when he had the distance, but not the direction.

Minutes later, Emlyn were awarded a penalty, which fullback Shawn Leonard converted to bring the scores level at 3 -3.

This seemed to provide Emlyn with greater vigour, as they stepped up their efforts, but the Otters’defence held firm.

Emlyn had three further opportunities to go into the lead, but Shaun Leonard failed with all three kicks.

When the referee blew for half-time, the scores remained level at 3-3.

The Otters’ threequarters looked threatening, but persisted with the long kicks, with Emlyn replying in similar fashion. It just led to a low scoring game.

On the restart, Emlyn pressed forward, but were being sent back with the long kicks which unfortunately gave possession back to them.

After eight minutes, the experienced Rhys Lane replaced Lewys Gibby at scrum-half and Jake Simm was withdrawn, being replaced by Steffan Phillips. This resulted in reorganisation of the Otters’ pack, with flanker Tom Powell moving into the second row, Richard Rees to number seven and Steffan Phillips moving to number eight.

It seemed as though Emlyn were gaining more penalties at the Otters’ expense, which saw them kick their way to near the five-metre line.

The Otter coaches made further adjustments, with Nick Gale replacing Jonathan Rogers, then moving to fullback and Ianto Griffiths moving to fly-half.

At this point, Emlyn brought on their massive prop Gethin Jones, causing the Otters to withdraw the smaller Bradley Davies, who had given his all in the forward exchanges, and replaced him with the bigger Dan Jacobs.

Shortly afterwards, the Otters broke the deadlock when Ianto Griffiths went over for an unconverted try. Again the strong running Jack Price played a big part in the try. With the Otters on the Emlyn 22, he managed to wrestle the ball out of the defenders hands and with the ball running loose, Ianto moved forward and raced clear to touch down.

The Otters set up several attacks, but Emlyn managed to repel them.

On 73 minutes, the Otters again crossed the try line, and again it involved Jack Price. On the Emlyn 22, he kicked ahead for Keiron Jones to speed through to touch down, but the referee brought play back to the original position for an adjudged offence.

Finally, Kyle Hamer came off the subs bench to replace Andrew Cooke.

Literally, the final moments saw the Otters create an excellent try. On the far side near the halfway line, Yannick Parker fielded the ball, passing inside to Jack Price, who broke through the near Emlyn players and when held passed to Rhys Lane, who quickly fed Keiron Jones, who with sleight of hand flipped the ball to Ianto Griffiths. Ianto kicked ahead for Nick Gale to burst forward and win the race for the touchdown. This time, Ianto Griffiths made no mistake with the conversion.

Within a few minutes, the referee blew for full-time, with the Otters deservedly winning 15-3 which continued their unbeaten run.

This was a typical derby game, with the players of both sides giving their all. For the Otters, the strong team spirit saw them through, they defended well, but despite many attempts in attack, failed until late on in the second half when their handling skill showed some exceptional passing.

During the game, too many occasions were spoilt by both sides kicking away possession. But after all, it was a local derby.

Later, head coach Sean Gale commented: “We were by far the better side, but it seemed aspects of the floor work at the breakdown were allowed to develop unnecessarily and we could not get going, They defended well, stopping our efforts. Some of our options were poor. It is a tough place to visit.

“However, as a club, we are in a good place at the moment. We are capable of scoring good tries and we are looking ahead, e.g. Pontypool away. We are trying to give as many of the squad a game. I thought Jack did well at times and Nick Gale when he came on gave more energy.

“We did not go to the game plan, we were meant to hold them in their half and not give the fullback any ball. We did the opposite. It was disappointing and the same thing happened second half. In the second half, the subs gave the side energy. Compared to last season, we are winning away from home.”

Narberth fielded: Ianto Griffiths (Nick Gale), Yannick Parker, Jack Price, Keiron Jones, Gethin Gibby, Jonathan Rogers (ianto Griffiths), Lews Gibby (Rhys Lane), Bradley Davies (Dan Jacobs), Dan Smith, Tom Kajacks, Jake Simm (Steffan Phillips), Alex Jenkins (capt.), Andrew Cooke,