Fixture

Brecon RFC | 1st Team 29 - 17 Brynmawr RFC | 1st Team
Jake Newman
Conversion 1
Penalty 4
Try 1
Jake Crockett
Try 1
Gari Wyn Davies
Try 1

Match Report
19 February 2017 / Team News

Brecon 29 - Brynmawr 17

As the old Breconshire County rival teams, Brecon and Brymawr, stepped out onto Parc de Pugh in spring like conditions, everything pointed towards this being a titanic battle. The two teams were separated by just a single league point, with both sides having won 7 out of their fifteen matches to date. Both teams were also boasting good recent records with Brecon’s last defeat at home occurring on 22nd October and with Brynmawr having won their last three games. When they faced each other previously this season on a heavy Brynmawr pitch, Brecon triumphed by 25 points to 15 but the score flattered the visitors. Then Brecon started well and scored two great tries through their dangerous back line but Brynmawr fought back mainly through their forwards and for long periods dominated the game without being able to totally break down the Brecon defence. That background, therefore, set the scene for what was likely to be an enthralling contest.

The game itself didn’t disappoint. The contrasting styles and strengths of the two teams were again evident. Brecon looked to make the most of the conditions and their mobility by spreading the ball wide at every opportunity. Brynmawr looked to drive hard through their powerful pack and supporting backs and they employed their most potent weapon, the driving maul, as frequently as possible. Ultimately tries were shared at three apiece but the manner in which they were scored could not have been more different. Brecon’s three tries came at the end of flowing moves and were finished by wings Jake Crockett and Gari Davies and full back Jake Newman. Two of Brynmawr’s tries were scored courtesy of driving mauls while the third was finished by their left wing after a kick through and chase. With the try count being even Brecon won the game as a result of a combination of their skill in the loose, their defence and outstanding collective team spirit.

That team spirit was exemplified in the closing exchanges when Brynmawr capitalised on a Brecon error and threw everything into an all-out assault on the Brecon line in an attempt to gain a losing bonus point and a point for scoring four tries. Having twice previously failed to prevent the visitors’ driving maul from crossing the try line they this time held out against three successive drives, much to the delight of the home support and Andy Powell in particular. Andy has been assisting coaches Martin Keylock and Eugene Murnane during the last few months and it was great to see him spend the final minutes behind the dead ball line exhorting and congratulating his home town team as they held out against the fierce Brynmawr onslaught.

The game itself could not have started better for the home side. They looked sharp from the kick off and after just three minutes scored a great try. The try involved many of the players who have shown themselves to be the cornerstone in the upturn of Brecon’s fortunes this season. On the Brynmawr 22, Ioan Edwards tapped down from a shortened line out. Andrew Hosie drove on and Ewan Williams took the ball as first receiver and popped up a delightful pass for Davey Herdman to drive hard at the heart of the defence. Richie Davies hit the following ruck hard and delivered quick ball. The ball was delivered to mid-field where Cameron Gardner drew the defence with an angled run which allowed his co-centre to put left wing Jake Crockett into space on the right. Jake drew the final defender and put full back Jake Newman clear with right wing Gari Davies also unmarked on the outside. Jake just failed to convert his own score but Brecon had immediately shown the threat they posed out wide.

For much of the remainder of the first quarter Brecon remained completely in control without ever quite replicating their early clinical finish. However, they did forge further ahead with two well struck Newman penalties. During this period the only hint of a threat from their opponents came when they finally gained a foothold in Brecon territory and from a line out they set up a maul which they used effectively and forced Brecon to give away a penalty in order to halt the drive. Playing to their strength they then kicked to touch in the corner and sought to employ the same tactic to score. This time Brecon stood off and managed to win a penalty themselves in the confusion that followed. Although no score resulted this time the potential threat was clear.

During the second quarter the game became much more evenly contested and Brecon frequently had Jake Newman to thank for putting the ball way downfield with some long and accurate kicking out of hand. Brynmawr also showed that they could not be taken lightly. Their two rangy flank forwards showed an appetite for work and posed a considerable threat with their pace and drive when they had the ball in hand. It was a break from the blindside flanker that set up Brynmawr’s first score. When he was finally hauled down Brecon gave away a penalty and the visitors went to touch in the Brecon 22. Initially they drove, sucked in the defence and then broke. With Brecon’s defence stretched the ball was kicked through and their wing won the race to the touch down.

Brecon responded quickly and although they failed to score a try their pressure led to a Newman penalty on the stroke of half time.

The early exchanges of the second half were dominated by the Brynmawr driving maul. It was now the visitors’ main weapon and it brought its rewards. Brecon held out twice but were penalised on each occasion. On the third they succumbed to the inevitable and Brynmawr cut the deficit to just two points when their try was converted.

If they were to win this game then Brecon needed to respond to the challenge thrown down by the powerful Brynmawr unit and that is exactly what they did. Ioan Edwards regathered the kick off and Brecon quickly moved the ball left. Eifion Jones was held up with a high tackle but showed strength to stay on his feet and offload to his support. The ball was the moved back towards the right and a lovely combination of Ewan Williams and Davey Herdman in mid field set up a powerful drive by Brecon’s man of the match, Jonathon James. The defence was drawn but there was still work to do. Outside half Josh Flye produced a lovely reverse pass out of the back of his hand and Gari Davies cut inside and left the full back sprawling as he produced a delightful side step on his way to the try line. Newman converted and Brecon’s nine point lead was restored, but not for long.

Brynmawr got their third try with another series of driving mauls to again come within four points of the home side and there were few Brecon supporters who felt confident at this juncture. The Brecon team, however, showed no such temerity. They produced another excellent try. This time outside half Josh Flye spotted that the opposition defence was far too narrow and he put in an inch perfect kick, wide and beyond the defence. Jake Crockett raced onto the ball, gathered and scored and within minutes Newman extended the lead with a penalty.

Brecon then had the opportunity to completely close out the game when they were awarded a penalty just outside the visitors 22. Everyone expected them to go for a line out in the corner but they were ambitious and instead put in a cross kick to the far wing. Crockett almost collected the ball and Brecon came close to scoring but a loose pass allowed Brynmawr to hack upfield and set up the testing finale, which on this occasion Brecon passed as a result of their growing self-belief, team spirit and work ethic. The victory celebrations were only just finishing when on the second pitch the 2nd XV recorded a stunning 53 points to 5 victory over Ynysybwl to make it a good day all round for the Brecon faithful.   

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