Fixture

Brecon RFC | 1st Team 18 - 3 Penallta RFC | 1st Team
Dean John Gunter
Conversion 1
Penalty 2
Joshua Martin
Try 1
Jake Crockett
Try 1

Match Report
12 November 2017 / Team News

Brecon 18 - Penallta 3

After 2 weeks, where Brecon have not been at their best, the team faced a massive challenge in their latest league match at Parc de Pugh. Visitors Penalltta boasted a proud record of 8 matches and 8 wins to head the league table with Brecon close on their heels, just two points adrift. While Brecon have stuttered in their most recent matches Penallta entered the match on the back of a remarkable 32 points to 5 victory over previously unbeaten Brynmawr. This match, therefore, had huge significance for both sides but for Brecon, with home advantage, it was critical. They needed to re-establish their credentials as potential league contenders by taking the scalp of the only remaining unbeaten side. That was the goal but for everyone involved in the Club there was an awareness that Brecon had to be at their very best if they were to spoil Penallta’s 100% record and simultaneously overtake them at the top of the league.

Conditions were not conducive to the open rugby that both teams have displayed to date. The ground was heavy and the ball slippery, although the wind and rain of recent days had abated. Right from the kick off it was clear that errors would occur and the side that could contain those errors would have an advantage. In this department Brecon were fortunate. Their scrum was always superior to their opponents. Joint Man of the Match, Andy Nicholl and his fellow front row members, Kevin Jones, Johnny Bowen, Ryan Williams and Nick Hughes, always held the upper hand. As a result Penallta often restarted from the scrum with retreating ball, allowing Brecon’s defence to quickly cut down space and snuff out danger. Also, in joint Man of the Match Dean Gunter, they had an expert controller whose cultured boot consistently pegged back the visitors and gave them little opportunity to counter.

However and as anticipated, the game was not just plain sailing. Penallta half backs Aeron Bidgood and Joe Scrivens were dangerous attackers and could not be given any quarter while blind side flanker Corey Tucker made a massive contribution, at line out and in the loose, where his pace and energy allowed him to excel whether as a nuisance at the breakdown or with ball in hand.

For almost all of the first twenty minutes the match was even as both sides probed for potential weaknesses. Both sides attempted to pin one another down with well-directed kicks and both sides displayed good defences when the other gained some territorial advantage. Both sides also showed discipline when defending within kicking range and as a result any scoring opportunities were few and far between. When after twenty minutes the first score came, it came as a result of good combined play. Brecon won a penalty and Dean Gunter kicked towards the visitors 22. Initially Brecon drove off the line out but then moved the ball left. Cameron Gardner did well to stand up in the tackle and off load but a wide pass went loose. Jake Crockett did brilliantly in preventing the ball from crossing the touch line while popping the ball up to Davey Herdman who drove hard at the defence. Dean Gunter chipped over the flat defence and full back Josh Martin gathered to score in the corner.

At this point it would be worth noting Josh Martin’s contribution to the game. At full back he was solid under the high ball, countered brilliantly and when he made a hit it was telling, as can be vouched for by the Penallta when he was cut down early in the match.

After taking the lead, Brecon were forced onto the back foot when Penallta won a turn over from the kick off. Brecon’s defence was superb particularly in mid field where Cameron Gardner and Eifion Jones shut out their opponents. Scrivens caused problems with one weaving run but finally Penallta had to be content with a penalty to reduce the deficit to two points.

The game was undoubtedly in the balance but for a period Brecon took control. They created a good attacking opportunity with a line out on 5 metres by Tucker stole the throw in and Penallta cleared. However, as pressure increased so further opportunities were bound to come. On 32 minutes Eifion Jones made an initial half break on the ten metre line. Some great driving play involving Ewan Williams, Davey Herdman, Mark Squirrel and Darren Witcomb created space for winger Jake Crockett. He took the try brilliantly. First he chipped the last defender and then showed great hands to gather the ball and score. Gunter struck a magnificent conversion from almost on the touch line.

With 8 minutes to go to half time Penallta had to hit back. They gained a foothold in the Brecon 22 and exerted huge pressure. Brecon’s defence just held thanks to their scrum and some magnificent tackling from the whole 15. Finally Ewan Williams won a turn over and prop Kevin Jones showed some great handling skills to allow Eifion Jones to run out of defence and earn a penalty on the visitors’ 10 metre line. Gunter clinically kicked the penalty to give Brecon a 12 point half time lead.

After some fairly even early exchanges in the second half Penallta gained territorial advantage and looked to drive on from close quarters. They maintained continuity and patience and Brecon’s defence was tested to the limit again and again. Finally a great Adam Hoskins tackle drove the attacking pod backwards and Penallta went wide in an attempt to vary the play and open up the defence. The attack broke down when winger Joey Davies brought down his opposite number and Brecon forced a penalty at the breakdown. Having escaped unscathed Brecon re-established control through the boot of Gunter and Martin aided all the time by their dominant scrum. Brecon exerted pressure without looking as if they would break the excellent Penallta defence but they did gain a penalty and Gunter duly increased the lead with sixteen minutes to go.

With Penallta becoming increasingly frustrated the game went through a period of niggly flare ups, all of which worked in Brecon’s favour as time was now running out. Penallta gave it their all in the last moments of the game without ever looking like they could break Brecon down and the final whistle allowed Brecon to claim a victory which elevated them to the top of the table and their highest every National League position.

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