Fixture

Nelson RFC | 1st Team 19 - 25 Brecon RFC | 1st Team
Dean John Gunter
1 Penalty
Jake Crockett
2 Try
David Elgan Lewis
1 Try

Match Report
16 December 2018 / Team News

Nelson 19 - Brecon 25

After five weeks without any league action Brecon finally hit the road again when they travelled to Ystrad Mynach to face Nelson. The match, due to be played at The Parc, Nelson, was moved at the last minute to the 3G pitch at Ystrad. The decision proved to be in the best interests of all concerned as the game undoubtedly would have fallen foul of the atrocious weather and Brecon would have faced another barren weekend. Even though the surface of the pitch was perfect, conditions were still very difficult. The afternoon was cold; a strong gusty wind blew across the field and at regular intervals heavy downpours swept into the faces of the players. Spectators certainly had the best of the deal as they sheltered, out of the weather, in the excellent stand facilities. For the players, cold hands, a wet slippery ball and match rustiness contributed to a rash of individual mistakes but the fact that players coped as well as they did in such adverse conditions was a credit to both teams.

In completely different conditions, Brecon opened the current season on 1st September with a home bonus point victory against their current opponents. While Brecon have continued that success with a 100% league and Plate record, Nelson have improved markedly since suffering defeats in both their opening matches. Their return from their last nine matches was seven wins and two defeats. They were obviously going to present a stern challenge to a rusty Brecon team which also had to cope with a string of late, enforced changes and as the match developed so that hypothesis proved to be accurate. Brecon failed to take their opportunities to build up a good lead by half time and as the game moved into the final quarter so Nelson took the lead for the first time. This was also the first time this season that Brecon have been behind at any stage during the second half of a League or Plate match. How the team responded to this unfamiliar territory told a lot about the character of the team. At a time when cool heads were needed to cope with the weather and the opposition Brecon were well lead by their captain Ewan Williams and controller Dean Gunter. With the team following their example they pulled the match back from the brink and pleasingly added a try bonus.

Brecon couldn’t have started the game on a better note. From the kick off Nelson failed to gather the ball and off the artificial surface it bounced up perfectly for Jake Crockett to gather. He still had a lot to do, but arch poacher that he is, he scored in the corner to record his 14th try of the season.

Nelson quickly hit back with a try of their own. From a line out in the corner their powerful pack drove over to level the scores. The power of their front 5 was evident not just in that score but also in the scrum where they gained the ascendancy. In wet conditions this made life difficult for Brecon but they responded and took the lead again when first Dean Gunter supplied a great kick which Crockett gathered expertly. He finished in the corner and then Brecon added their third try when the referee awarded a penalty try as the Brecon pack trundled towards the line only for the maul to be deliberately pulled down.

Brecon now looked fairly comfortable but Nelson hit back with a converted try of their own. As the half entered the final phases Brecon should have consolidated their superiority with a well worked try but after Crockett and Geraint Workman had created the overlap, however, the final pass into cold wet hands was dropped and the opportunity was squandered.

Nelson started the second half with purpose. A penalty gave them a position deep into the Brecon 22. With their strong scrum and powerful driving maul things looked immediately ominous. To Brecon’s credit their defence was superb and they held Nelson out through phase after phase. Finally Brecon relieved the pressure as Darren Witcomb effected a great turn over and Brecon escaped from their half. Sadly that relief was short lived. A dropped ball on half way gave Nelson a scrum. Their Number 8 broke right and into a yawning gap that Brecon struggled to close. As he was brought down on the 22 he offloaded to his supporting wing, who crossed near the posts to make the conversion a formality. For the first time in the match Brecon were behind and were facing the prospect of a defeat.

Brecon’s response was outstanding. The scrum which had been under pressure suddenly started to look more secure. Ewan Williams and Richie Davies became prominent with ball in hand and the general energy of the team was lifted. Dean Gunter put an excellent penalty kick into touch in the Nelson 22. The resulting maul proved marched to the 5 metre line where it was brought down. Brecon opted for a scum and with the set piece moving forward Ewan Williams broke. He was held up just short but hooker Elgan Lewis picked up and drove low and hard to nail a critical score.

With a lead of just three points and with ten minutes to play Brecon could hardly feel comfortable. What materialised was a lesson in how to close a game out in difficult conditions. Brecon dominated territory and possession. Finally they were awarded a penalty which Gunter converted to give a six point cushion which they comfortably maintained through to the final whistle. A cold, wet and bedraggled Brecon contingent returned happily across the Beacons with an important win and bonus point under their belts.

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