Fixture

Pontypool United RFC | 1st Team 12 - 30 Brecon RFC | 1st Team
Sam Campbell
1 Try
Ewan David Williams
1 Try
Jake Crockett
1 Try
Dean John Gunter
3 Conversion
3 Penalty

Match Report
30 September 2018 / Team News

Pontypool Utd 12 - Brecon 30

  Taking a break from league action, Brecon travelled to Pontypool to face the United team in the first round of the WRU Plate. Over the years Brecon have faced their Pontypool rivals many times and on each occasion the match has proved to be a closely fought encounter. In recent times Brecon has held the upper hand but none of the travelling support was under the illusion that this would be a romp in the park. For 50 minutes, however, Brecon were comfortably the better side. Their defence was outstanding with both centre Sam Campbell and flanker Davey Herdman putting in a number of bone crunching hits. In attack they were sharp and took their chances well and by half time they had built up a well-deserved 24 points to nil lead. As the game entered the second half it seemed that Brecon would romp to a comfortable victory. The fact that that did not happen had much to do with the resilience and determination of their opponents, and the disruption caused by a series of critical injuries. The combination of factors resulted in Brecon having to play for much of the time off the back foot and to fight hard to keep their resurgent opponents at a comfortable distance on the score-board. That they succeeded was of great credit to the team that limped home with a number of injuries to treat in the coming weeks.

In bright autumn sunshine Brecon started the game impressively. The Brecon front row of Andy Nicholl, Ryan Williams and Kevin Jones destroyed their opponents in the game’s first scrum and won a penalty which Dean Gunter converted to give Brecon the lead.

With plenty of ball from the dominant scrum and with Jarryd Davies and Ioan Edwards serving up good possession from the line out Brecon looked dangerous as they endeavoured to move the ball wide. One opportunity was squandered but it was clear that Pontypool were struggling to hold Brecon in the wide Channels. To counter this, the home defence fanned out wide at the earliest opportunity and that paved the way for Brecon’s first score.  Brecon’s captain, Ewan Williams, took a short pass from outside half Dean Gunter and cut through a defence that was spreading wide in anticipation of a threat down the flank. Just outside the 22 he broke through the wrong footed first line of defence and found that the second line had vanished as he cantered in for an excellent individual try under the posts. Gunter had the easiest of conversions.

Pontypool responded from the kick off and Brecon had to work hard to hold up a series of driving mauls. They did this effectively and busy flanker Ioan Edwards conjured up a turnover which allowed Jake Newman to put in a huge clearance kick. Once in the Pontypool half, Brecon again looked dangerous. With forwards Darren Witcomb and Jarryd Davies carrying the ball effectively another score was not long in coming. Darren Witcomb started the move from deep in his own half as he drove hard at the defence and set up quick ruck ball. The ball was immediately moved wide and swift accurate handling from centre Sam Campbell put full back Jake Newman in space. He beautifully drew the cover before putting Jake Crockett away on the outside. His pace did the rest as he flew in for his fifth try in as many matches. Gunter again converted.

One small incident, which seemed innocuous at the time, took place during the build-up to the try. Darren Witcomb suffered a hamstring pull and was forced to leave the field. With Andrew Hosie as a more than capable replacement on the bench it seemed disappointing for the individual but to be of minor importance to the overall team performance. However, it proved to be the start of a series of injuries that was to have a major impact on the game during the second half.

This first disruption was quickly put to one side after Brecon again repelled a concerted attack by Pontypool who were handed the opportunity by Brecon’s failure to effectively deal with the kick off. Once Brecon broke out of defence they again threatened. Jake Crockett featured twice. First he took a pin point Gunter cross kick and almost broke away to score. Then he set up the next score with a great run and well timed pass back inside to Sam Campbell who raced in under the posts. Gunter again converted to give Brecon a 24 point lead which they took into half time in spite of a determined response from their opponents.

As the second half started so Brecon’s problems began to emerge. First Davey Herdman left the field with a neck injury. This was quickly followed by an injury to front row forward Andy Nicholl. With the pack now disrupted Pontypool began to dominate possession and to cause Brecon all sorts of problems at the scrum. A series of forward drives and scrums near the Brecon line finally led to a deserved home score as their forwards drove over from a maul. Outside half S. Mills converted brilliantly from the touch line and the Pontypool crowd sensed a major revival in fortunes.

Brecon hit back with a Gunter penalty but when replacement prop Tom Witcomb succumbed to injury Brecon were first reduced to 14 players and then when centre Joe Evans suffered a nasty hip injury, Brecon were reduced to thirteen. With 8 players having to take part in scrums, Brecon were faced with having to cope with just 5 backs left to defend against an ever more confident home side. It came as little surprise when Pontypool exploited Brecon’s lack of width in defence. Some swift accurate handling delivered the ball into the hands of wing A. Stratton and he made the most of the space in front of him to score in the corner.

Brecon still had a comfortable 15 point lead but the momentum was with Pontypool and Brecon supporters began to fear the worst as the volume of the Pontypool support was ramped up. Brecon needed to show courage and commitment if they were to subdue the ever increasing threat from the home team. Much to their credit they did exactly what was needed. When they had the ball they kept it and ground their way forward, Nerves were settled when Gunter struck his third successful penalty. From there to the final whistle Brecon held out and returned home with the Plate victory in the bag but with a worrying clutch of injured players who may be forced to miss the coming league challenges.

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