Brynmawr RFC | 1st Team 23 - 15 Brecon RFC | 1st Team
Dean John Gunter
5 Penalty

Match Report
01 October 2017 / Team News

Brynmawr 23 - Brecon 15

Brecon travelled to Brynmawr, their old County Rivals, for a mouth-watering top of the table clash. Both sides boasted excellent records with maximum points from their four home matches to date thus accumulating 20 points and proudly standing at the top of Division 1 East.  Although still only in the first month of the season, this was a clash which could potentially have huge significance as the season progresses. Such was the significance of this fixture that it was selected and featured as the clash of the day by Scrum V Wales.

That was the background to the match but on a day when good conditions would have added to the occasion the weather decided not to co-orporate. Heavy overnight rain and a strong gusting wind meant that the match had to be moved away from Brynmawr’s heavy ground to the High School pitch which was in remarkably good condition. Much to the relief of the large crowd the rain relented by the time the two teams took to the field and battle commenced

Considering the importance of the match between two near neighbours the game was played in good spirit. No quarter was given and some of the tackling was immense. The pace of the game was also impressive as two quality sides battled it out. The lead chaned hands a total of 7 times before the home side finally pulled away in the final quarter as their greater power, particularly in the scrum and the driving maul, began to take its toll.

With the wind at their backs Brecon certainly started strongly. Playing with pace and achieving good continuity they took the game to the home side. Outside half Dean Gunter converted their superiority into points with a well taken penalty as Brecon continued to put Brynmawr under pressure. For the first 20 minutes Brecon were on the offensive. Second row Mark Squirrel appeared to be involved in everything and Dean Gunter showed great hands in dealing with some challenging passes in slippery conditions. However, Brecon failed to add to their solitary penalty as Brynmawr’s well organised defence held firm under severe pressure. On twenty minutes they gained a penalty and put themselves on the offensive from a line out on Brecon’s 22. They created a well organised driving maul which Brecon finally halted but the momentum was with the home team. With ball on the front foot the Brynmawr backs showed that they were able to complement their powerful forwards as the ball was swept across the full width of the field to allow left wing R Gardner to squeeze in at the corner.

With Brynmawr having scored while playing into the wind Brecon needed to hit back quickly. Ioan Edwards stole a line out and Gunter put Brecon back into the lead with his second successful penalty.

That one point advantage was short lived. Brynmawr re-asserted themselves and Brecon were forced to defend. They did so effectively with Cameron Gardner in particularly ensuring that there was no way through the mid field. But the pressure told and D. Butler kicked a penalty to regain the lead.

With the game heading towards half time Brecon faced the unenviable prospect of turning around into the wind while facing a narrow deficit. Hugely motivated they created two clear opportunities. Wing Richie Elliot made a great break down the left flank only to be hauled down just short with support on the outside. If that was the rapier then the next opportunity came through the bludgeon. Prop Andy Nicholl blitzed through the first couple of tackles but although they gained a penalty, which Gunter converted, the try eluded them.

Facing the wind with just a single point advantage was never going to be easy and during the early stages of the half some worrying signs were there for everyone to see. Brynmawr used their driving maul to great effect and Brecon’s accuracy at the line out deserted them. Also for the first time in the match the Brecon scrum came under pressure. However, Brecon were not going to surrender the match easily and when Brynmawr took the lead with a Butler penalty Brecon regained the lead thanks to Gunter’s accurate boot. Then into the last quarter Brynmawr exerted huge territorial pressure. Driving line outs sapped the strength and the home superiority in the scrum became more and more evident. When they gained a scrum on the Brecon 5 metre line a score was inevitable and although they failed to cross the line the referee adjudged that Brecon had infringed in a way that stopped a certain try and he awarded a penalty try which Butler easily converted.

 Against the odds Brecon hit back. Jeremy Crockett was hauled down with a high tackle and Gunter again bisected the posts to give Brecon hope. Brecon pressed and with minutes remaining a critical phase was reached. Brecon were attacking on the home 22 when a climatic phase was played out. As the ball emerged from a ruck Brecon decided to go blind. It was a major error. Darren Witcomb, one of Brecon’s most reliable forwards, received the ball with absolutely no support and faced by three defenders. He attempted to kick ahead but the kick was blocked and picked up by the home side. They quickly turned defence into attack and when they earned a penalty and went for a lineout in the visitors 22 the writing was on the wall. From the line out drive Brynmawr crossed for a try which put them 8 points clear. In the short time remaining Brecon tried to gain a bonus point but time ran out and they were forced to concede that they had deservedly lost to an impressive and well balanced team.