Fixture

Nantyglo RFC | 1st Team 10 - 24 Brecon RFC | 1st Team
Gari Wyn Davies
3 Conversion
1 Penalty
Eifion Jones
1 Try
Davey Herdman
1 Try

Match Report
04 September 2016 / Team News

Nantyglo 10 - Brecon 24

For Brecon the opening day of the 2016/17 season will be remembered not for the scintillating play in end of summer conditions but for monsoon weather and a hard fought and deserved victory. After preparing for the season on hard, dry grounds and in generally good weather, the season kicked off on a day of heavy rain and strong gusty winds. Facing a much bigger pack playing on their home pitch certainly placed Brecon at a disadvantage as they were forced to adapt their game plan to ensure that the season started with a confidence boosting win. Nantyglo certainly did their best to make life as difficult as possible and they posed a threat right up until the closing moments. While Brecon tried their best to expand their game in difficult conditions Nantyglo played to their strengths of powerful forward drives and particularly effective driving mauls. Their driving mauls led to their one and only try but they came close on a number of other occasions only for stout Brecon defence to hold them out near the line.

Along the back lines it was a different story. In spite of the wet slippery ball Brecon handled and ran well and looked dangerous throughout. Gari Davies at outside half controlled the game well while Eifion Jones at inside centre was undoubtedly the stand out player of the afternoon. Last season’s youth player, Jamie Evans, also showed up well on the wing with a number of elusive runs. Nantyglo by contrast found it difficult to hold onto the ball and rarely did their backs threaten.

Ultimately the major success of the day was the win, which Brecon worked hard to achieve, but there were also other positive aspects to reflect on after the final whistle. The new front row combination was thoroughly tested. Jonathan Bowen and Clive Ryder, new signings in the off season, performed well in a front row which just about shared the spoils with their bulky opponents. Loose head prop Richie Davies showed that the transition from Youth to senior rugby can be bridged even in the most physical area of the front row. Richie had a real battle on his hands but he stood up to it and emerged with great credit. Ioan Edwards, in the back row, also made a successful transition from youth to senior rugby and along with Jamie Evans showed the importance of developing players through a successful youth structure. Not unexpectedly Ewan Williams made a good impression in his first outing as captain. He organised the team well maintaining composure throughout and with his back row colleague Davey Herdman, showed an appetite for work.

Not everything, however, fell on the positive side and some if the negatives will need to be addressed if the team is to fulfil its ambition for the season. The line out, right from the start, was uncertain. On occasions the likes of Danny Howe and Ioan Edwards won good ball but at other times they allowed their opponents to steal or disrupt their possession while at the same time they rarely threatened their opponents’ line out. In addition Brecon struggled to contain their opponents’ well organised driving maul. There was also an unusual lack of disciple in a match which at times was frustratingly niggly. Eight times in all, the referee went to his pocket and produced a yellow card, four for each team. Not only did that affect the flow of the play but too often, particularly in the second half when Brecon had the wind at their backs, the ill-discipline allowed Nantyglo to lift the pressure when Brecon were pressing deep in their half.

The game itself started well for Brecon. Nantyglo tried to move the ball wide in an early attack. Brecon’s back line was well organised and Eifion Jones easily picked off an attempted long pass allowing him to intercept and race away unopposed to the line. Davies converted.

Brecon then almost extended their lead after a good Jamie Price run. Davies’ penalty into the wind struck the posts and Nanyglo cleared, won themselves a penalty and reduced the score with a penalty of their own. Gari Davies restored Brecon’s 7 point lead with a penalty before Nantyglo levelled the scores. From a line out on Brecon’s 22 they drove a well organised maul up to the Brecon line. When the desperate Brecon forwards collapsed the maul the referee had no hesitation in awarding a penalty try and awarding a yellow card to one of Brecon’s forwards.

The score was a warning to Brecon and they responded well. Although the line out was not secure they won enough ball to dominate the game and their reward came when both centres Cameron Gardner and Eifion Jones carved through the middle of the field. Jones finally put the ball wide to Jake Crockett and his inside pass to Davey Herdman put him in sight of the line. He still had work to do but the score came as he crashed through the defence and over the line. Davies converted and Brecon went into the halftime huddle with a seven point lead and the prospect of playing with the wind at their backs.

What seemed to be a formality proved to be anything but and the victory had to be grafted out. Nantyglo threatened on at least three occasions through their driving maul but Brecon, to their credit, ultimately held out. With the constant binning of players the game became scrappy and Brecon only finally pulled away at a critical point with ten minutes remaining. Near the Brecon line Nantyglo’s driving maul was held and as the ball squirted out so Brecon claimed possession. They broke up-field and once into the Nantyglo half Eifion Jones cut inside and through the splintered home defence. With the line approaching he was cut down with a blatant high tackle. The referee immediately gave the penalty try and Davies added the conversion.

With a 14 point lead and time running out Brecon were safe but Nantyglo continued to press for a losing bonus point only to be denied by some excellent defence. Brecon now have week to prepare for their opening home game against Rhydyfelin when they will hope to challenge a team which comfortably turned them over twice last season.

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