Brecon Look to Finish in Style
For the penultimate match of the league season Brecon travelled to the Heritage Town of Blaenavon anxious to draw the season towards a successful conclusion. Blaenavon’s, record leading into Saturday’s match was impressive, with three straight wins and yet, statistically, they needed points from the match in order to ensure their survival in Division 1. With this as their motivation everything suggested that they would present Brecon with a serious challenge. What actually developed on a cold but dry spring afternoon was perhaps not what was expected.
Brecon opened brightly. Immediately their forwards through Darren Witcomb, Davey Herdman and Tom Daley penetrated the home defence and within five minutes Brecon were ahead when Jake Crockett benefitted from their efforts. He crossed in the corner for his 19th try of the season to give Brecon a lead. Blaenavon quickly responded with a penalty from half way but once the game settled down Brecon dominated proceedings. Looking to play with width they stretched the home defence and created space. As opposed to the previous week, when they failed to make the most of their opportunities, this time they found their supporting players and quickly built a healthy lead.
After a Tom Daley break off the scrum, Eifion Jones was held up just short but brilliantly got an off-load away to Danny Howe who crashed over for a try. Newman kicked the first of his seven conversions of the afternoon. In no time at all Brecon extended their lead when Jake Newman’s counterattack was continued by right wing Jamie Price before Eifion Jones carved through another gap through the middle and put Darren Witcomb in for his first try of the season.
The one way traffic was then suddenly halted when a lapse of concentration in Brecon’s mid-field allowed the home outside centre to show great balance and pace as weaved his way through the visitors' defence to create a score. At this point and with the previous week still in mind, there was some concern that Brecon may lose concentration but that anxiety was quickly extinguished. A wonderful piece of interplay involving forwards and backs created position which outside centre Josh Flye finished with a display of both clever footwork and power.
With a bonus point secured after just 30minutes Brecon conceded a penalty and Blaenavon kicked for the corner. From there they exerted enormous pressure, playing a pick and drive game which suited their bigger forwards. They pinned Brecon down in the left corner for a full ten minutes but Brecon were resolute throughout in spite of losing a player to the sin bin. That great defensive display allowed Brecon to head into the break with a bonus point in the bag and with an 18 point lead.
Having survived the Blaenavon onslaught without conceding a point Brecon started the second half as they had done the first. Off a line out on the home 22, outside half Gari Davies broke. He looked for support and as he did he spotted that the home defence had over-read the play as they targeted support players rather than the man with the ball in his hands. Davies made the most of their hesitation as he crossed the line under the posts.
Forty points was soon achieved when Tom Daley once again showed great athleticism and pace to score for himself this time. The result of the game was now assured but with 30 minutes left to play there was still time for plenty of action. That action first came from Blaenavon as their driving game again caused Brecon a number of problems. Eventually they gained their reward as their effective maul drove over the whitewash.
Any thoughts of a home revival, however, were quickly dispelled. Brecon re-asserted themselves but with the same level of clinical execution they displayed earlier. Their play was less confident and on far too many occasions they kicked away possession which they formerly would have used with great purpose. This resulted in a period of stagnation which was disappointing considering the comfortable 27 point lead held by the visitors. There was some concern that the game would drift to a conclusion in this unsatisfactory fashion before Brecon suddenly switched back to keeping the ball in hand. It brought its rewards. Some great continuity and lovely hands gave Crockett space on the wing and he finished clinically.
With just minutes left to play. Crockett picked up his third and the team’s eighth try. The bonus point win consolidated Brecon’s fifth position in the league, a place they will want to hold onto after their final match away at Abertillery.