Fixture

Brecon RFC | 1st Team 34 - 19 Brynmawr RFC | 1st Team
Lewys Cooke
Try 1
Sam Campbell
Try 1
Jake Crockett
Conversion 1
Dean John Gunter
Conversion 2
Drop Goal 1
Geraint Workman
Try 1
Richard Llewelyn Davies
Try 1
Jonathon James
Try 1

Match Report
17 February 2019 / Team News

Brecon 34 - Brynmawr 19

This top of the table clash between Brecon and Brynmawr was undoubtedly the league match of the season to date. Brecon, defending an unbeaten record faced last year’s league champions and WRU Plate Winners. With Brynmawr having lost twice to date, once at home to Brecon, this was a make or break league match for them. Defeat would surely leave them too much to do even though the season was only two thirds completed. The match was equally important for Brecon who also have Penallta champing at their heels with just one loss to date. So the stage was set for an uncompromising match played in dry conditions and with a huge amount at stake for both Clubs.

The two teams served up a classic in front of a large crowd of partisan Brecon and Brynmawr supporters. The game had it all. Big hits in defence, great creative play, hard forward drives and a total of 8 tries. Although the final winning score of Brecon 34 – Brynmawr 19 looks like a comfortable victory for the home side nothing could be further from the truth. With 70 minutes gone Brynmawr led by 19 points to 13 and Brecon needed to respond if they were to maintain their unbeaten record. The response was magnificent. Brynmawr failed to live with the final intensity and Brecon scored three tries in the final ten minutes to claim the win, a losing bonus point and deny Brynmawr the consolation of a losing bonus.

The whole squad deserves credit for a magnificent performance against opponents who have deservedly built up an enviable reputation over the past two years. Five players were selected to share the Man of the Match Award and this was an indication of how the whole team performed. The magnificent 5 included captain Ewan Williams whose handling and carrying throughout the afternoon caused Brynmawr no end of problems. Alongside him was centre Sam Campell whose defence during periods of intense Brynmawr pressure was faultless and to add to that he made valuable ground in attack and finished with a flourish to score the final try. Richie Davies again was one of the stars. He showed great strength in the front row of Elgan Lewis and Andy Nicholl to blunt one of Brynmawr’s potent attacking weapons; an aggressive, powerful scrum. In addition to his tight work he still had the energy and ability, to carry the ball brilliantly even at the end of a long passage of play just as he did to score a try which gave Brecon a match winning lead. Lewys Cooke who filled the role of wing and then scrum half also had an outstanding game. His running on the wing caused panic in the visitors’ defence and for his try he showed awareness and pace. When he later filled-in at scrum half he looked lively and drew the attention of the Brynmawr back row. The final member of the group was Jon James. His try on 70 minutes, when Brecon finally breached the Brynmawr defence to take the lead, was critical. That, however, was not his only contribution as he oozed power in all that he did, whether through big hits or strong carries.

While the five were magnificent they were closely followed by the rest of the squad. Eifion Jones at full back was a real handful on the counter and rock solid in defence. Jake Crockett, back after a spell out with injury, always looked dangerous and Cameron Gardner was as always rock solid in defence and threatening in attack. The half backs Dean Gunter and Geraint Workman were instrumental in delivering the victory. Geraint in fact scored the first try off a lovely blind side of the scrum break. Darren Witcomb also got through his usual quota of tackles and carries and never took a backward step while Davey Herdman and Ioan Edwards made life difficult for Brynmawr at the breakdown and were always in support on the shoulder of their team mates. The bench also contributed with Dafydd Edwards, Ryan Williams, Ryan James, Kevin Jones and Will Prosser all making a big impact on their entry to the field of play. The coaching team of Andy Powell, Matthew J Watkins and Matthew Lewis should also be congratulated for the way they have prepared the team not just for this game but throughout the season to date.

With the plaudits over so to the game itself. Brynmawr started with intensity. Their scrum looked strong and their powerful forwards ran hard. They were also well supported by a hard running outside half and backs who looked far more eager and capable of taking up the challenge compared with the previous encounter earlier in the season. It took some great defence to keep them at bay and it took a typical Jon James drive through the visitors defence to put Brecon on the front foot for the first time. Once on the offensive Brecon looked dangerous. Hooker Elgan Lewis brilliantly carried the ball after a well worked loop around the tail of a line out and the move ended with Brecon being awarded with a scrum 5 metres out and ten metres infield. Brynmawr drove hard and it looked as if they may disrupt the scrum possession but Ewan Williams tidied up brilliantly and fed Workman on the blindside. He used wing Cooke as a foil and dummied his way through to the line for an opening score.

The score acted as a spur to the visitors and they put Brecon under considerable pressure following an impressive driving maul. The home defence with Sam Campell, Cameron Gardner, Eifion Jones and Jon James to the fore was outstanding. Finally, however, the pressure told and as Brynmawr swung the ball wide they created an overlap after Lewys Cooke was taken out by a dummy run. Brynmawr levelled the scores with a try in the corner.

Brecon’s response was impressive. Lewys Cooke made a great run down the flank and Eifion Jones put in a dynamic run which took play deep into the visitors’ 22. Opportunities came but the Brecon failed to hold onto the last pass. Finally, their efforts were rewarded when the forwards, Ewan, Andy Nicholl, Elgan and Davey combined with Sam Campell. Quick ball was recycled and Dean Gunter kicked wide over the flat defence for Lewys Cooke to gather and score. Brynmawr tried to hit back but Brecon saw out the remaining time to the half time whistle.

The second half started promisingly for the home team. Now playing into a strengthening breeze, they carried the game to Brynmawr through some impressive interplay involving Richie, Darren, Jon James and Cameron Gardner. Once again handling in the red zone let them down and a missed penalty to touch resulted in a massive set back. Brynmawr countered brilliantly and after a number of phases moved the ball wide. Covered, out on the wing, Brynmawr kicked infield for their scrum half to gather, score under the posts and ensure that the conversion would give Brynmawr the lead for the first time in the match. Brecon hit back and although they failed to cross the line they were awarded with a penalty from which Dean Gunter restored a single point lead.

Potential tragedy then struck. From a line out near the Brynmawr ten metre line Brecon, for once, went laterally across the field. The move had no forward momentum and the pass in mid-field was easily read and picked off by the Brynmawr centre who raced away from half way to score under the posts. With the conversion Brynmawr now had a six-point lead with 20 minutes to play.

The reverse could easily have caused Brecon to drop their heads but instead it galvanised the team. They upped the tempo to an even higher level and with forwards and backs combining they put Brynmawr under severe pressure. Brynmawr found it difficult to live with the pace of the game a visibly began to wilt. However, as a proud and powerful side they were not going to succumb easily. For ten minutes they took a battering but held out and as the minutes ticked away so the home support became anxious. Fresh legs were brought on and finally, after a series of drives near the line had been repulsed, Jon James bundled his way over. Jake Crockett’s conversion gave Brecon a slender lead with ten minutes to play.

Everyone anticipated another fight back from the visitors but by now they were finding it difficult to live with Brecon’s intensity. Brecon soon extended their lead when again forwards and backs combined. Ewan Williams made a great run through the defence but his ball infield was picked off by the defence. Dafydd Edwards made a crunching tackle and the ball fell loose. Prop Richie Davies picked up and ran in the last 22 metres to score a try which virtually decided the match as Gunter’s conversion put Brecon two scores ahead. Brynmawr were now disheartened but still had sights on two possible bonus points as they kicked off. Brecon, however slammed the door in their faces in the most emphatic way. From the kick-off Brecon attacked with replacements, Ryan Williams, Dafydd Edwards, Kevin Jones, Ryan James and Will Prosser all involved. They broke down the Brynmawr defence and finally Sam Campbell dived over for the final try. Gunter converted and when the final whistle came Brecon celebrated an outstanding victory against a top-quality side which had given its all. Further celebrations took place with the news that the Youth had won their quarter final Cup match at Pontypridd by 21 points to 20 and the second’s had defeated Bargoed by 40 points to 12. There can have been few better days in Brecon RFC’s long history.

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