Brecon RFC is justifiably proud of its long History which can be traced back to 1868. In 1898 Brecon played at Llwynypia in the South Wales Challenge Cup. Welsh legend, Willie Llewelyn was a member of that Llwynypia team, a first class club at the time. Against the odds Brecon won that Cup Match by 2 goals to 4 tries and 2 minors. A report was printed in the Western Mail with the reporter recording that, “Brecon scored one of the prettiest tries I have ever seen, with the move leading up to the score covering almost the full length of the field.” He also added, “We shall hear more of this Club.”
If that reporter had been present at Parc de Pugh when Brecon played host to Mountain Ash in a quarter-final Mid District Cup Match then he would have been hard pressed to choose between that historic score and an outstanding try scored by Brecon as they swept past their opponents and into the Cup semi-final.
We have no more details of the score from 119 years ago but Brecon’s fourth try will certainly live long in the memory of all who witnessed it and will certainly rank among the best tries ever seen at Brecon’s home ground. The move started in Brecon’s 22 in not too promising a position. At the time Brecon were already well placed, leading by 22 points to 8 but were playing into a strong wind which drove the drizzle down the field into Brecon faces. Brecon’s pack won a ruck and the ball was moved quickly to outside half Dean Gunter. Rather than kicking to touch he reacted to what he saw in front of him. Mountain Ash’s defence was flat and narrow and so he chipped over the defensive line into the space behind the visitors’ left wing. Right wing Jake Crockett caught the ball brilliantly in one hand in spite of the presence of his opposite number. Immediately under pressure, he produced a one handed flip behind his back straight into the arms of supporting full back Jake Newman. Jake broke up-field and just inside the oppositions’ half he drew the last fragments of any covering defence and returned a pass to his namesake. Crockett took the ball at full pace and left any remnants of the Mount defence trailing in his wake as he scored a try which sealed the result ensured that Brecon’s passage to the semi-final was confirmed.
That try may well have been the icing on the cake but it was delicate blend of ingredients which bound together the whole match performance that was the essential foundation on which the extravagant final flourish was based. Mountain Ash were undoubtedly a serious challenge to Brecon’s new found belief, justifiably based on a series of good performances. With just three league defeats and placed fourth in Division 1 East Central, just one point behind third placed Rhiwbina but with a game in hand, Mount certainly had a pedigree that suggested they would be a force to be reckoned with. As they took the field on a damp, windswept evening it seemed that conditions would suit their extra bulk and power. Brecon’s pack, however, is a unit which has been transformed from the one which suffered at the hands of a number of opponents earlier in the season. From the start the front row of Ryan Harris, Jim Williams and Richie Davies more than just held their opponents at the scrum and all three showed up well in loose play. The second row combination of Jonathon James and Andrew Hosie combined power with athletic line out skills and energy, while the back row of Davey Herdman, Ewan Williams, Mark Squirrel and replacement flanker Ioan Edwards was beautifully balanced and outstanding both in attack and defence.
Behind the pack half back combinations of either, Dean Gunter and scrum halves Dan Edwards and Adam Hoskins directed play expertly. Outside them the mid-field combination of Eifion Jones and Cameron Gardner was always threatening, as it has been all season and showed great defensive qualities. Behind them was a dynamic back three made up of prolific scorers, Jake Crockett (15 tries this season) and Jake Newman (12 tries and 147 points) combining with debutant youth player, Ryan Price, who looked completely at home in senior company.
With this as the background it was not surprising that Brecon ran out winners scoring four tries to their opponents’ one. That, however, was not the whole story. Starting with the wind at their backs Brecon created scoring opportunities often following strong breaks by Davey Herdman and Ewan Williams. The fact that they failed to capitalise on these opportunities was somewhat worrying particularly when the young Mountain Ash outside half struck a 45 metre penalty to give them a three point lead while playing into the wind.
The score boosted the visitors’ confidence and some powerful, aggressive play produced some threatening moments. Brecon, however, weathered the storm and regained superiority in terms of territory and possession. After a period of sustained pressure, Jake Crockett was put in the clear from a kick behind a flat narrow defence and with Jake Newman converting, Brecon took the lead which Newman extended with a penalty. Another long period of sustained pressure seemed to be yielding very little in terms of the scoreboard when Dean Gunter unlocked the stiff Mount defence with a neat side step to score a try which he converted, to give Brecon a 14 point half time lead.
As they started the second half, facing a strong wind there was some concern that the lead may be insufficient. Mountain Ash made the most of the wind advantage to force Brecon back into their own territory. Their back line failed to make any real inroads and so they reverted to a forward orientated game. They sought to pick and drive and maintain pressure on their hosts. This they succeeded in doing but Brecon’s defence, which was so fragile at the start of the season, showed that it is now made of sterner stuff. Thy held out for a full twenty minutes until finally the Mount pack drove over the try line for a score. Critically the conversion failed leaving Mountain Ash still two scores adrift. Yry there was still concern that having made the initial break through the visitors had time to steal a victory.
Such concern, however, was quickly dispelled. Brecon suddenly took the offensive and now looked far more dangerous. A deliberate knock on foiled a try on the right flank but Brecon were in the ascendancy in spite of playing into the wind. When they created the next chance they finished clinically. After a period of pressure flanker Ioan Edwards found himself with ball in hand on the visitors 22 and faced by a disorganised defence. The young flanker showed great composure and skill to hold up the ball and deliver a beautifully delayed pass which put Eifion Jones over in the corner.
Within no time at all Brecon finished off the game with their sublime try and they dominated the final phases of the match to put themselves deservedly into the semi-final of the Cup.