Finally the U16’s got their season off to a start and faced Merthyr on a dry but cold Sunday morning. After a good turn out at training last week and an excellent session coaches Andrew Lewis and Howell Havard had plenty of optimism in the boys ability to deliver a good performance going into the match despite the lack of game time so far this season.
Prior to kick off both sides stood and respectfully observed a minute silence in memory of those who perished in Aberfan 50 years ago.
It soon became apparent that there was going to be a significant contrast in both teams approach to playing the game with the larger Merthyr pack looking to play a controlled driving game whilst the smaller Brecon side were always looking to move the ball wide into space and attempting to use their pacey backs.
The early exchanges saw both sides defending well and cancelling out the threat posed by the opposition attacks and the scoreboard remained locked at 0 – 0 for some time. It took a moment of individual skill from Dan Hiscocks to crack the Merthyr defence and run in the first try which was converted by Jacob Beetham.
This was quickly followed by his second try more or less straight from the kick off. These two tries settled the home side and gave them some breathing space and helped them play with more confidence.
The third Brecon try was probably their best of the match when a loose kick was gathered by full back Ben Griffin who rather than running the ball back quickly identified space out wide an passed the ball to Tom Preece and instantly created a three on two opportunity which was clinically finished off with support runners in Jack Jones and Dan Hiscocks either side of the ball carrier.
Despite the three quick tries Merthyr kept playing and exerted plenty of pressure on the home side and this hard work was rewarded with their first try of the match which spurred them on.
Brecon scored their fourth try wide out from Dan Hiscocks which was excellently converted by Jacob Beetham from a difficult angle.
Merthyr never lost heart and kept going and managed to score two further tries and kick a penalty to bring the score back to 24 – 20.
The home side had to continue to tackle and defended manfully under extreme pressure from the visitors. The smaller Brecon pack battled courageously all game and competed well in the scrum with the front row of Gareth Stroud Glyn Powell and Ifor Thomas competing well against a larger front row. All the forwards contributed to the defensive duties and generally tackled well.
As the second half progressed the Brecon forwards became more competitive and aggressive at the breakdown with Angus Cloke, Iwan Havard and Brychan Davies often managing to disrupt the quality of the opposition ball. There were also some strong contributions from the forward pack in attack from Dewi Worwood and Eryl Joy who both carried the ball strongly and made some good runs with ball in hand.
With time ticking away it was Merthyr who were on top and exerting all the pressure and looking the most likely to score and win the game. The home side were struggling to get out of their own 22 often trying to run the ball out of defence and playing some high risk rugby close to their own line late in the game which fortunately they did not get punished for.
Eventually the home side got their hands on the ball and it was cleared down field into opposition territory. The Brecon fitness levels showed at this late stage of the game with two Brecon players Iestyn Havard and Matthew Williams chasing down the only Merthyr defender, their full back who they held up in his 22 and ripped the ball away from him for Matthew to canter over and score the final try of the game which was converted by Jacob
This was a highly competitive game and well done both sides for the quality of rugby and spirit in which the game was played. There were a number of injuries during the game and we hope all the Merthyr players recover quickly.
Final score 31 – 20