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SWALEC WRU National League Division 3 South East Saturday 1st October 2011

Gwernyfed 20 - Brecon 19

This was a classic derby match. A big, vociferous and partisan crowd watched a fascinating encounter in glorious sunshine. Both teams were totally committed and desperate to take the spoils and yet the match was played in an excellent spirit with both teams trying to play good rugby. As a result the game lived up to expectations, with the result being in doubt until the final whistle and even then the teams were only separated by a single point. Of the five tries scored during the game, three were of the highest quality involving great individual skill and excellent team play.

The teams were well matched but had differing strengths. In the tight Gwernyfed held the upper hand particularly in the first half. Their scrum was dominant and in George Barden they had a player who ruled the line out. He excelled, particularly in the latter stages of the game, when it was obvious that he was the only Gwernyfed line out target. In spite of the fact that Brecon knew where the ball was to be thrown they were unable to prevent him claiming clean ball. From that clean possession Gwernyfed twice set up driving mauls and twice they scored to turn around a game which Brecon seemed to have won. The first critical maul came when Gwernyfed were nine points adrift and time was running out.

From a line out on the Brecon 22 Gwernyfed’s drive was unstoppable that was until the maul was pulled down almost on the try line. The referee deemed that without the illegal action Gwernyfed would have scored and so he awarded a penalty try. Gareth Dodd, a former Brecon player who had a big influence on the game and scored a total of ten points with his boot, had little problem converting.

Even then, with a slender two point lead it looked as if Brecon would hold on for a win particularly when flanker Osian Davies brilliantly gathered the kick off and set up Brecon possession deep in the Gwernyfed 22. Brecon should have been able to play out the remainder of the game in opposition territory but they gave away a penalty and the relieving kick to half way set up the final dramatic action of the game.

Barden won the line out again and Gwernyfed repeated their earlier success with a maul that took them to the visitors 22. Against the maul went to ground and this time Brecon were penalised in an eminently kickable position and Dodd delivered the telling blow.

How Brecon must have rued the fact that had they cynically taken the maul to ground immediately on both occasions then the worst they would have yielded would have been a penalties in far less critical positions.

It had hardly seemed likely that Gwernyfed would win the game through collective force when they claimed the first score early in the game. With good early possession, just outside the Brecon 22, centre Luke Exton cut through a host of defenders to score a brilliant individual try. Dodd converted and with the home side winning the tight exchanges the early signs were that Brecon might struggle to stay in contention. However, their defence, after being embarrassed by early individual brilliance, now held firm and gave Gwernyfed attackers little room. Under pressure the home side made a mistake in mid-field. A ball was dropped and Brecon outside half, Gareth John Davies, gathered the ball and sprinted half the length of the field to score. Gari Davies converted to draw the sides’ level.

The score inspired the Brecon side and confidence grew and the game became a more even battle. With half time looming Brecon gave away parity on the score board. Gwernyfed were awarded a scrum outside the 22. A Brecon player voiced his opinion and the referee took exception and awarded a penalty. Dodd’s reliable boot gave Gwernyfed the half time lead.

In the second half Brecon were bolstered by the introduction of Lewis Smout at prop. The scrum became more stable, the quality of possession improved and Brecon began to take control of the game and the score-board. Brecon’s scrum half Rob Price now had more time on the ball and his probing runs and excellent distributing sparked a number of good moves. After a period of pressure, Captain Eurin Morgan received a scoring pass after some great handling in a very tight space in the right corner.

Brecon went further ahead when they brilliant try. Eurin Morgan this time was the creator. He gathered a kick on his 22 and countered. His arching run outside the chasers created space on the left flank. Wing Richard Andrews too his pass made ground and fed replacement Eifion Jones on the inside. Taking the ball at pace Eifion sliced through any remnants of defence and scored under the posts. Davies’ conversion gave Brecon a nine point lead with time running out. They should have been able to close the game out from there but to be fair Gwernyfed identified what they needed to do and did it.





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