Brecon RFC | 1st Team 20 - 21 Nelson RFC | 1st Team
Rhodri Thomas Workman
Try 1
Ewan David Williams
Try 1
Jake Crockett
Penalty 1

Match Report
25 March 2018 / Team News

Brecon 20 - Nelson 21

There can be no doubting that the stop start nature of the Fixtures, due to weather and 6 Nations matches, has had an unsettling effect on Brecon’s 1st XV. Prior to the Christmas break, Brecon had played 13 league matches with just one defeat. In the three months since the start of the year, Brecon have played just 5 league matches and have lost 3 of those games. The lack of regular rugby has been compounded by injuries and unavailability which has undermined the cohesive strength of the team. Saturday’s match against Nelson was a case in point. Individuals performed well but with a new back line and with a limited bench the team failed to match the fluency and confidence they showed in pre-Christmas matches. Nelson were by no means opponents who could be taken for granted. They have had some notable victories this season including a quarter final WRU Plate victory over Ystrad Rhondda, second placed team in Division 1 East Central. That victory earned them a plum semi-final draw against Division 1 leaders, Brynmawr, with the victors taking their place in the Principality Stadium Final.

The match at Parc de Pugh was certainly entertaining and was hard fought right to the last minute but Brecon must feel that they let the game slip away from them. The first half was a low scoring affair and yet both sides played expansive rugby and created openings. Brecon dominated the first quarter with a high tempo game which caused their visitors numerous problems. Youth scrum half, Workman, was impressive on his senior debut as Brecon stretched the Nelson defence. What was disappointing was the fact that, although having the upper hand in the scrums, they failed to consistently win their own ball at the line out and they failed to convert a number of opportunities that they created.

As the game moved into the second quarter so Nelson began to find some fluency. Their wide attack and pace caused problems for the Brecon defence and they created two clear cut opportunities of their own. The first failed when their left wing dropped, what should have been, a scoring pass and the second was snuffed out in the right hand corner when a superb cover tackle dislodged the ball in the act of scoring.

With both sides having missed the opportunities to take a lead the game entered the final 10 minutes of the half. Finally Brecon broke the deadlock with a well-crafted try. Full back Jake Crockett started the phase of play with a lovely counter-attacking run out of his 22, towards the right touch line. Some wonderful handling put Cameron Gardner in space and he linked beautifully with wing Mike Powell. Powell was brought down by great cover tackle but Brecon had gained the momentum and earned a penalty at the next scrum. The ball was kicked to the corner and a line out ten metres out followed. Brecon secured the ball and their tight maul drove for the line. It was halted just a couple of metres short. Workman fed the ball to Dean Gunter who broke for the line. He was brought down a metre short but managed to offload to the supporting young Workman who dived over near the posts. Gunter converted and Brecon finally had a lead which they held to half time.

Brecon started the second half as they had the first. The scrum was again impressive with the front row of Jonathan Bowen, Richie Davies and Kevin Jones not just doing their job in the tight but also showing up well in the loose. Unlike the first half Brecon made their mark on the scoreboard within the first ten minutes. Captain Ewan Williams, who was outstanding throughout the match, made a wonderful break through the mid-field on the ten metre line. Finding himself in space he went for the line and stretched over, near the posts, as the final tackle came in. Gunter converted for a second time and Brecon had a comfortable lead.

At this point Brecon were in a healthy position. Jake Crockett was a threat with his counters from deep, the scrum was going well and the defence was just about coping with the threat posed by the lively opposition. Line out possession continued to be a problem but with a 14 point lead and points hard to come by, Brecon looked well placed to record a good home win.

That whole scenario changed in an instant. Brecon’s counter attack out of defence had paid dividends but their ambition was to cause them a major setback. From just outside the 22 Dean Gunter saw space behind the defence and chipped over the top. Unfortunately for Brecon the Nelson full back got to the ball first and took it at pace. Nelson were suddenly on the front foot and the Brecon defence disorganised. They were halted in the right hand corner but then moved the ball left and scored in the left corner. For some reason there was a confrontation between players and Gunter was sent to the bin before Nelson converted from wide out.

Brecon were down to 14 men and that deficit was soon increased as Mike Powell was sent packing as he made a tackle within ten metres of a quickly taken penalty kick. Brecon were now under severe pressure. Their hitherto secure scrum now began to suffer particularly when Nelson brought on fresh legs against a tiring Brecon scrum. For the first time Nelson earned a penalty at this phase. Their scrum half took a quick tap and they were over under the posts with the conversion levelling the score.

Momentum was now with them but Brecon did not give up. Although they hardly looked the same high tempo side that started the game they did enough to earn a penalty which Jake Crockett kicked to regain the lead and then the returning Gunter extended the lead with another penalty.

With minutes remaining Brecon just had to close the game down and play in the Nelson half. They looked to be doing that but gave away a penalty and the accomplished Nelson outside half kicked down to the Brecon 22. They won clean ball from the line out and swept the ball left. Brecon were outflanked and the wing cut in to score near the posts to make the conversion easier. The kick put Nelson in the lead for the first time in the match. Brecon had three minutes to try to secure any score. They tried hard but it was never enough and Brecon fell to their second successive defeat. Their visit to Ynysybwl next week now takes on a new significance. Brecon will aim to bounce back onto the winning trail as the season enters its final month.