Fixture

Brecon RFC | 1st Team 30 - 23 Pontypool United RFC | 1st Team
Ewan David Williams
Try 1
Jake Crockett
Try 2
Jonathan Bowen
Try 1
Geraint Workman
Try 1
Dean John Gunter
Conversion 1
Penalty 1

Match Report
22 April 2018 / Team News

Brecon 30 - Pontypool United 23

With the season drawing to a close Brecon still face a number of games which will, in many respects, define their season. Saturday was certainly a game which matched that scenario. Having started the season so well and put themselves in a position to challenge for league honours there has been something of a slip in momentum since they lost their home match to leaders, Brynmawr. A further defeat at Penallta meant that they probably have allowed Penallta the opportunity of taking second spot and last week’s defeat at Nelson put their third place in jeopardy particularly if they failed to secure a win against their latest opponents, Pontypool United, who were chasing hard from fourth place. The United have had an excellent first season in Division 1. Following their promotion last year they have adjusted well to the higher standard of rugby and gained momentum as the season progressed up to the point where a third place finish would be in their grasp if they could defeat Brecon. A lot of pride, therefore, rested on the game which was played under beautiful conditions which encouraged both sides play an expansive game. With both teams willing to run and with a place in the top three of the league at stake, the game developed into thrilling battle  which was not finally resolved until the final whistle.

Brecon finally ran out winners and claimed a bonus point as they outscored their opponents by 5 tries to 2 but with the visitors outside half being unerring with the boot and with some enterprising back play, Pontypool kept themselves in contention throughout. The game fluctuated in favour of one side or the other with the lead changing hands a total of seven times before it was finally resolved and even then Brecon had to dig deep to prevent their opponents drawing level.

For Brecon a hard core of players had a big influence on the game. Not for the first time this season the front row was outstanding. Young Richie Davies completely undermines the thinking that in the modern era rugby is a game for giants. He gives away bulk to almost every opponent he encounters and yet there are few, if any, who get the better of him in the hard physical contest of the front row. He still then has enough energy to be an effective ball carrier and great tackler. With him in the front row, hooker Jonathan Bowen, has also been outstanding, particularly in recent weeks. He is prominent in the loose and regularly makes himself available to carry in tight situations. The third member of the team is the complete opposite, physically, of his partner, Davies. Andy Nicholl is physically large and is a large presence on the field. His bulk is important in anchoring the scrum and he makes it count when he smashes opponents to the ground in the tackle and when he carries, as he did in the lead up to Brecon’s first try.

It was Ewan Williams who scored that first try as Brecon took control of the early exchanges. His contribution to the team as captain, as a creative player and as the heart of a great back row cannot be underestimated. On the open side Ioan Edwards was, as usual everywhere, while Chris Davies and his replacement Davey Herdman were uncompromising both in attack and defence. As a unit they undoubtedly influenced the result of the game.

Behind the pack Dean Gunter at outside half again prompted the team well. His kicking out of hand was very effective and his handling exemplary. The one area where Gunter failed to match his normal standards was his goal kicking, particularly in comparison with his opposite number who was flawless. After Brecon took the early lead with Ewan’s try, Pontypool hit back to take the lead with two penalties. Brecon regained the lead with a Gunter penalty but then fell behind when the mid-field defence was split wide open by the Pontypool inside centre who scored a converted try. Brecon almost immediately hit back to level the score when Gunter got his back line moving and Jake Crockett, who had a great game at full back, scored in the corner.

Brecon’s mid field frailties again showed as the young, dangerous Pontypool full back cut through to score their second converted try. Once again Brecon bounced back and after Richie Davies made ground the backs swept the ball wide and Crockett crossed in the same right hand corner to record his 18th try of the season. Brecon then imposed huge pressure on their opponents as their scrum took complete control. They showed composure as they went through a number of phases before Jonathan Bowen broke off a maul and scored.

With the kicks not going over Brecon’s lead was just three points in spite of having claimed a try bonus with their fourth try. That 3 point lead was extinguished as a beautifully struck penalty from half way sailed through the posts. With the game entering the final ten minutes Brecon needed to finally break away from their opponents and when that break came it came at the hands of their youngest player. Youth scrum half, Geraint Workman, on his fourth senior outing again showed what a promising player he is. His service was swift and accurate and he was not overawed or overshadowed by the more senior players around him. When the opportunity to break came he was prepared and capable and it was his try break at the back of a dominant scrum that finally opened the way for Brecon to earn a seven point lead as his half back partner converted the try.

With minutes to go and a seven point lead Brecon seemed to take complete control. Opportunities came but a penalty was missed and young James Hellard was hauled down just short of the try line. The game surely was now in the bag but there was one last twist. Pontypool broke out of their 22 and Brecon’s defence seemed to evaporate. Their pacey full back ran in open space with nothing between him and the Brecon try line other than Ryan Price who was covering off the opposite wing. A try looked the most likely outcome but Price showed great pace in tracking his opponent down and pulling off a try saving tackle. Brecon re-grouped and held on for a bonus point win which, with two games left, should ensure them of a third placed finish.

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