Brecon RFC entered their final home match of the season boasting a proud home record of just two defeats in their first two home matches and a run of eight consecutive league victories. With second placed Nelson visiting Parc de Pugh, on a beautiful spring afternoon, everyone knew that Brecon would have to be at their best if that record was to be extended. Late in the season both teams were suffering from the wear and tear of a hard fought campaign and so although Nelson had taken the spoils in their home fixture this match had an element of unpredictability.
For the first 25 minutes of the match it looked as if Brecon were capable of pulling off a prestigious win. They controlled territory and put Nelson under huge pressure. The Brecon scrum, with Ryan, Harris, Jim Williams and Richie Davies leading the way from the front row, had their much bigger opponents on the back foot. With good possession from this phase and at the line out Brecon’s backs created opportunities. Sadly, for once, the clinical finishing shown in recent matches was absent. Too many balls were spilled when they threatened and had the opportunity to score. Even Jake Newman’s boot for once looked fallible. A relatively simple penalty was missed and Brecon failed to register the points that their play deserved.
Eventually after some twenty minutes Brecon did registered their first points. It started with a Nelson mistake as a defensive line out was over thrown and Davey Herdman picked off the ball at the tail. He drove hard and quick ruck ball was won. It was moved along the back line and a good miss pass from centre Eifion Jones gave full back Jake Newman a chance. He stayed strong in the tackle and drove over for a try which he converted.
Brecon then looked as if they would increase their advantage as they created more opportunities, the best of which came after a great Eifion Jones break. With two unmarked players on the outside, what should have been a scoring pass was picked off by the last Nelson defender and the opportunity came to nothing. Then Jake Crockett seemed to have broken free only for an ankle tap to bring him down. At the time these failures to score were worrying but that worry became a concern when Nelson suddenly began to get a grip on the game.
A forward pass after some poor mid-field defence prevented Nelson from scoring their first points but they had signalled that the game was beginning to turn. Brecon won the scrum and Ewan Williams made a good break off the back but Brecon were turned over at the breakdown and Nelson’s prop barged his way over the line to reduce the deficit to just two points.
At this stage and with ten minutes to go to half time, Brecon were still in control but that all changed with a combination of a disappointing chain of events and a failure to maintain the intensity of their play.
Nelson’s score seemed to suck the confidence out of the home side and rather than continue with their previously successful pattern they displayed a more defensive mentality. With ball in hand, on half way, they opted for a speculative drop goal which failed to hit its target and sailed harmlessly dead. Harmlessly it should have been but in fact it led to a disastrous sequence as far as Brecon were concerned. The referee did not recognise the kick as a drop goal attempt and awarded Nelson a scrum where the kick was taken. Brecon drove their opponents off the scrum but were penalised for not pushing straight. Nelson took a quick tap and at the next breakdown, on Brecon’s 22, the home close defence suddenly seemed to vanish. Nelson’s number nine broke through a huge gap to score and give Nelson a half time lead.
They increased that lead immediately as Brecon failed to deal with a kick ahead and gave away a kickable penalty. Within no time Nelson increased their lead as Brecon’s concentration disappointingly seemed to desert them. A lost ball in a tackle allowed the Nelson centre to show great enterprise and skill as he bamboozled the home defence to score a try which he converted.
The game was now only going one way and Nelson claimed their fourth bonus point try. Their accomplished full back made a great break from deep and aided by some poor defence scored a converted try.
With twenty minutes to go the game now was slipping away completely from Brecon. Fortunately Brecon re-grouped. At last they started to re-assert themselves and put Nelson under pressure. That pressure brought its reward as Gari Davies both charged down and scored a try which Newman converted. With twenty minutes to go Brecon now had a chance to get back into the match and at least earn a losing bonus point, however, to some extend they pressed the self-destruct button. Twice while attacking they incurred the wrath of the referee following irresponsible back chat. On the first occasion they surrendered a penalty and position on the field. On the second occasion they not only gave away possession and position but they also lost a player to the sin bin. These indiscretions virtually denied Brecon the opportunity of fighting back into the game thus confirming a result which was a disappointing home finale at what has been a heartening season.