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SWALEC WRU National League Division 3 South East Saturday 3rd September 2011

Dowlais 18 - Brecon 13

Brecon travelled to Dowlais for their first league match of the new season. With a young side featuring six changes from the side that ended last season there were many questions concerning how the team would fair against bigger and more experienced opponents. By the end of the afternoon some questions were answered while others remain to be reviewed again in future matches.

Certainly during the first half and playing with wind advantage, Brecon found it difficult to secure quality first phase possession. The scrum creaked and the line out malfunctioned. This meant that Dowlais enjoyed the lion’s share of possession and territory. They scored two tries which were based on powerful forward drives which Brecon’s lighter forwards had difficulty in stopping. When they scored a somewhat doubtful third try, from a scrum push over, early in the second half, it seemed that Brecon would be over-run. The fact that Brecon survived the remainder of the game unscathed, added two glorious tries of their own and without a doubt finished far the stronger certainly gave hope to coach Chris Yates and the travelling support.

A number of factors contributed to the dramatic turn around. Firstly the Brecon side were obviously fitter and sharper. While they didn’t quite overcome the 15 point deficit that had built up they did push Dowlais to the limit and the hosts were hanging on when the game was prematurely brought to an end by the referee, whose watch seemed to be operating on anything but standard time. The early whistle brought relief to Dowlais and frustration for Brecon.

Another influential factor was the work of the back row. Osian Davies tackled his heart out and secured a number of critical turnovers. Wyn Davies, his partner of the flank, worked tirelessly and was always eager to carry the ball. At no 8, Tom Daley, the third member of the trio, was immense behind a retreating scrum. Time and again he picked up the ball under great pressure and ensured that the side moved forward over the gain line.

The final positive factor was that once the game began to break up and the backs were given the opportunity to run and they looked sharp and took their chances well. Rob Price at scrum half covered and tackled for most of the afternoon but once he was given ball and space he showed great attacking skills. At full back Owen Morgan was outstanding. On the counter he showed great ambition and pace and one run in particular created panic in the home defence. With captain, Eurin Morgan, also looking dangerous when relieved of his defensive duties, Brecon, turned the game around and ended it with hope rather than despair. The latter having looked the more likely outcome early in the second half.

Unsurprisingly given the early domination of territory and possession, Dowlais scored the game’s first try. Good defence had kept them at bay for some time but when the Brecon pack were sucked in to stop a dangerous rolling maul, Dowlais switched the attack wide. Powerful centre James Quirk cut back against the flow of play and the disorganised defence failed to lay a finger on him. Outside half Nathan Pritchard then added a penalty and the home side’s confidence soared.

Brecon’s outside half Dylan Green, who put in a good all round display, kicked a 50 metre penalty before Dowlais extended their lead. An unstoppable rolling maul, which covered all of 20 metres, ended in a try which gave the home side a 10 point lead at half time. Considering they had played into the wind the half time score line was ominous for Brecon.

Things looked even more desperate when Dowlais were awarded a push over try from a 5 metre scrum, early in the second half. It was at this point that Brecon showed great character. They battled for every ball and gradually they began to gain possession which they could use. The build up to their first try was brilliant. Deep in their own half Eurin Morgan broke. When the move was halted on half way the ball was presented cleanly and Rob Price broke up to the 22. He fed second row Danny Howe whose straight run was halted just short of the line. After good ball retention through a number of phases Tom Daley crashed over.

Within minutes Brecon were back on the attack when Owen Morgan set off on a brilliant counter. Again the continuity was good with players working hard to give the ball carrier good support. Eventually Brecon were awarded a scrum in the Dowlais 22. The scrum held and Tom Daley fed replacement centre Alun Davies who ran straight and delivered a try scoring pass to Owen Morgan who hit the line and pace.

Dowlais were clearly shaken and with the momentum obviously favouring the resurgent Brecon team there was every chance that the game could be pulled out of the fire. Unfortunately for Brecon the referee ended any hope they had and their winning ambitions had to be saved for their home encounter with Pentyrch next Saturday.





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