SWALEC WRU National League Division 3 South East Saturday 24th March 2012
Brecon 21 - Aberdare 13
After the euphoria associated with the Welsh Grand Slam in this year’s Six Nations it was back to league business for the Brecon squad. Facing a difficult run in to the end of the season with four away matches and just one at home it was important to start this final leg with a morale boosting win in the final match at Parc de Pugh. Against respected opponents, Aberdare, Brecon didn’t make it easy for themselves. They got on the wrong side of the referee who punished them with three second half yellow cards which resulted in the team spending the majority of that period a man light and even having to deal with being down to thirteen players at one stage. The fact that they emerged victorious was a testament to their developing maturity. Coach Chris Yates, in his summing up, pointed out that in his view the side would have crumbled in similar circumstances earlier in the season. That fact that they coped with the set backs was a reflection of the new spirit and belief in the side and it is that belief and togetherness that, hopefully, will take them to a successful end to the season.
While the victory was welcome it was not without blemish. Many opportunities were created but inaccuracy resulted in chances being spurned and Brecon were made to work hard for the win. It certainly was not their best performance of the season but there were many positives. The front row of Ryan Harris, Alan Taylor and Steve Jackson did remarkably well particularly when the pack were reduced to just six players for almost ten minutes of the second half. When they were at full strength they stole a number of strikes against the head and dealt well with their larger opponents.
The line out also functioned well and it was pleasing to see that the drive off the first phase possession is continuing to gain strength. On a number of occasions good ground was gained and Aberdare were forced to commit most of the pack and considerable energy into attempting to halt Brecon’s well organised driving maul.
The mid-field is also beginning to develop into a very useful unit. Eifion Jones at outside half had a particularly good game. He played an important role in both of Brecon’s outstanding tries and generally controlled the game well. Considering the fact that he received a very heavy knock in the first half of the game his all round performance was even more creditable. He combined very well with centre Rob Price who put in an impressive performance alongside one of Brecon’s most consistent performers, Gari Davies.
The match itself stared in beautiful spring conditions. A light breeze blew down the field towards the town end and Brecon had advantage of it at the kick off. Brecon dominated the early phases and created opportunities but they failed to register a score until the reliable boot of Gari Davies put them three points ahead. However, as the half wore on the dominance continued without further reward and when Gavin Hek kicked a penalty to level the scores there were a few anxious faces amidst the Brecon supporters.
At a timely moment, Brecon earned what their efforts had deserved. Having blown what seemed to be a great opportunity to score when they made a complete hash of a quickly taken penalty, Brecon suddenly produced a brilliant phase of play. Eifion Jones created the initial impetus with a half break and beautifully timed pass to Rob Price. Price was hit with a hard tackle but had the strength to brush off the challenge, continue the momentum and then pop up a lovely pass which put co-centre Gari Davies over under the posts. Davies converted his own try.
Brecon started the second half in brilliant fashion, producing a contender for try of the season. Captain, Wyn Davies, who had a magnificent game, started the move from his catch at the kick off. He burst through the advancing pack and got his pass away to Eifion Jones. He broke the cover defence and delivered an exquisite pass to full back, Owen Morgan. He outstripped any remnants of defence and scored in the corner.
The scene seemed set for a run away victory but Brecon then suffered for their lack of empathy with the referee. When they lost outstanding number 8 Tom Daley they sought to play a tighter game and to bide their time until they were restored to full strength. However, the back row was further depleted when they lost all action Osian Davies. Then it became a question of backs to the wall. They coped very well until they conceded a try after a long period of pressure. Eifion Jones’ kick was partially charged down. The ball tantalisingly evaded the grasp of the defence and visiting centre Craig Smith gathered and scored. Hek converted to cut the gap to five points. However, there was momentary relief as Daley re-joined the fray only to see substitute Ewan Williams being sent to the Sin Bin after only a few minutes on the field.
This was the point where Brecon could have crumbled. Instead they regained
the initiative when a Gari Davies penalty opened up an 8 point gap with
just minutes to play. Those final minutes were seen out comfortably and
they justly claimed the four league points which advanced the team to
fifth place in the league.
© Brecon RFC 2006-2012