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SWALEC WRU National League Division 3 South East Saturday 31st March 2012

Nelson 29 - Brecon 32

The match between Brecon and Nelson was a magnificent game of rugby played between two very good teams. It was keenly contested to the final whistle as both sides had a great deal resting on the outcome. Nelson were looking to confirm their credentials as promotion favourites by holding on to their second place or even challenging Llanishen for the top spot. At the same time the match was important to Brecon as they sought to continue their success of recent weeks and challenge for a top four place in the league. Understandably then, both sides showed commitment and a huge desire to come out on top and yet the match for the most part was played in excellent spirit. A total of nine great tries were scored, with both sides gaining try bonus points. All the ingredients were there for a classic match and that is just what it turned out to be.

Mention must be made of an incident in the dying moments of the game. Brecon held a narrow three point lead when Nelson kicked a penalty to within 5 metres of the Brecon line. They won the line out but in the ensuing maul the ball was turned over and outside half Eifion Jones put in a huge clearance kick. Dangerous full back K. Clabby gathered and set off from his own half on a brilliant run through the Brecon defence. He angled for the corner flag with the cover coming across and dived over as the defenders reached him. However, he was adjudged to have put his foot in touch and there was a flare up which resulted in him being dismissed form the field and Brecon being awarded a penalty. They kicked safely to touch, won the line out and put the ball back in touch and the referee blew the final whistle.

Although the incident caused much debate the one thing that was clear was that this had been an outstanding match with both teams deserving great credit for their performances.

Once again the Brecon side showed great unity, playing for one another throughout and showing great resilience. They trailed for most of the match but never allowed their skilful opponents to get away from them. Whenever they went down they bounced back with excellent scores of their own and their competitiveness sowed the seeds of doubt in the Nelson team, which after a confident start were forced to acknowledge that they faced formidable opponents.

While the match was won with the quality of the team performance mention has to be made of props Ryan Harris and Steve Jackson. Their work is so often unseen and unrecognised but throughout the afternoon they made a huge impact in the loose. Steve made up for the late start to the season becoming more and more influential as he carried the ball over the hard yards. Ryan, who has made huge strides in the front row of the scrum this season, tackled magnificently and showed great pace particularly on one outstanding run in the second half.

The game itself started well for Brecon with them gaining territorial advantage in the early stages. However, on almost Nelson’s first sortie into Brecon’s territory the showed a clinical edge and took the lead. Brecon conceded a penalty in their 22 and impressive No 8 M. Williams took a quick tap and drove over the line for an unconverted try.

After that set back it was important that Brecon bounced back and they did just that as Gari Davies kicked a penalty to reduce the arrears. They took another important step after resisting an attack in which right wing G. Williams showed how dangerous he was as he threatened to open up the Brecon defence. Finally snuffing out the attack, Brecon worked their way down-field and forced Nelson to concede a line out on their 22. Brecon effectively drove the line out then as the momentum slowed, outstanding flanker, Osian Davies broke away. He fed back row partner Tom Daley who slipped the ball to hooker Alan Taylor and he crossed the line for a try which Davies converted.

Nelson’s response was almost immediate. Brecon kicked ahead but the chase was poor and full back Clabby made good ground. Fortunately for Brecon the ball slipped from his grasp when the position looked threatening. Brecon began to drive the ball back up field but powerful blind side flanker R. Jones stole the ball and outside half D. Jones cut through a ragged defence to score and convert.

In no time at all Nelson extended their lead. Clabby again was the catalyst. He burst through from deep and fed M. Williams. The powerful No 8 showed pace to finish the move and record his second try.

At this point the game seemed to be flowing Nelson’s way and Brecon desperately needed to dent the growing confidence of their opponents. An excellent drive from a line out gave them forward momentum. Ewan Williams almost crossed the line but lost the ball as he stretched to touch down and Nelson cleared. Gari Davies replied with a long kick down field. Again Nelson tried to run the ball back but on half way they lost possession. Outstanding Flanker Wyn Davies picked up the loose ball and outstripped all the cover to score in the corner.

With half time approaching Brecon almost stole the lead. Outside half Eifion Jones made a lovely break and put centre Gari Davies into space. Within a few metres of the line he was cut down by the desperate cover and Brecon had to settle for a two point deficit at half time.

Nelson, playing down the slope, started the second half on the offensive. They imposed huge pressure on the Brecon defence but the team tackled and snuffed out a series of dangerous attacks. Eventually lifting the siege Brecon gained an attacking position. After a number of promising phases they finally lost patience and an attempted drop goal sailed wide. From the restart Nelson re-gathered the ball and for once the Brecon defence was found wanting as right wing G Williams carved a path clean through to the try line.

Once again, in this end to end match, Brecon cut the deficit. Tom Daley made the initial charge and prop Steve Jackson finished the move as he drove through a tackle on the try line. Gari Davies converted to level the score.

Once again Nelson replied. After the ball was turned over, following a great run from full back Owen Morgan, influential No 8 M. Williams showed power on the drive before releasing centre R. Nichols who went over and Jones converted.

After all their hard work Brecon were determined to gain something from the match. They took territorial control of the game and just as they seemed to have lost an opportunity when they were turned over near the line, flanker Osian Davies brilliantly ripped the ball away from his opponent and crossed the line under the posts. Gari Davies converted to draw the sides’ level.

It seemed that a draw may be the likely result but the momentum was with Brecon. Ryan Harris, Steve Jackson, Osian Davies, Tom Daley and Ewan Williams all drove hard at their opponents who eventually conceded a penalty. Although fairly straightforward the pressure was immense but Gari Davies remained calm and put Brecon ahead.

The final drama of what was a remarkable game was played out. For the losers, in a match as tight as this, there was understandable anguish at the final whistle. For Brecon their resurgence continues and they will now look forward to the visit to third placed St Peters next Saturday.





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