Brecon RFC | 1st Team 36 - 24 Rhiwbina RFC | 1st Team
Dafydd Edwards
Try 1
Ewan Williams
Try 1
Ioan Edwards
Try 1
Jake Crockett
Try 1
Dean Gunter
Conversion 4
Penalty 1

Match Report
23 September 2019 / Team News

Brecon 36 - Rhiwbina 24

Following the opening league fixtures of the season, Brecon’s third competitive game saw them start their cup campaign for 2019/20 as they played in the first round of the WRU National Plate competition. This tournament is important to Brecon as they are the current holders of the trophy, having enjoyed a memorable day out at the Principality Stadium earlier on this year, this being one of the highlights of their successful season.

Whilst the club remains committed to seeking a level in the National League structure that ensures high quality rugby being available to local talent, the chance to progress deep into the Plate competition remains an enticing prospect, and the squad are greatly aware that all teams will face them with increased vigour as they try to down the holders. Last season’s journey through the competition took them to Cardiff to face Rhiwbina in the quarter final match, and they were again the opponents as the latest venture kicked off. In welcoming the Squirrels to Parc de Pugh on a fine late summer’s day, the Brecon squad and management team would have been well aware that they would provide robust and committed opposition, and had some powerful players in their ranks. Additionally, the home team would have been alert to the fact that, should they be able to play their own high-paced game, and eliminate careless errors that had been prevalent as they shook the rust off in their previous games, then they would hopefully prevail as they had done previously against these durable opponents.

Whilst the sun shone over the picturesque ground in the Usk Valley, there was also a strong wind blowing from the east, and it was the home team who took first advantage of this as they kicked off to start the game. The opening exchanges were to prove indicative of the key elements of the game, as the visiting team looked to use their powerful ball carriers to challenge the normally resolute home defence. Their numbers 6, 8 and 9 were particularly prominent in these early skirmishes and their ability to make yardage was aided by some errors in the home team play, as they looked to get into the game. The possession that Rhiwbina enjoyed was not converted into a comfortable lead on the scoreboard, as they seemed to falter once they looked to spread the ball wider. The home team, on the contrary, looked to take advantage of the full width of the pitch, and they swung the ball wide when in possession. There was a tendency to drift wide in attack though, and space came at a premium when they sought to press forward.

The visiting team were the first on the scoreboard however, as their pressing game saw Brecon fall offside in defence, and the visiting 10 kicked a fine penalty goal into the strong wind. This prompted a strong response from Brecon and, when in possession, they were more patient as they went through numerous phases, and also sought to alter the angle of attack. This provided the perfect platform for the opening home score as they attacked a stretched defence from where captain Ewan Williams hit a great angle from 35 metres out to canter through for a try that was converted by fly half Dean Gunter. This kick-started something of a purple patch for the Brecon team as they attacked with more vigour and intent, and the pack were able to make inroads into the Rhiwbina territory. From once such multi phased attack, ubiquitous hooker Ryan Williams was able to release winger Dafydd Edwards who went outside his opposite number and sprinted deep into the visiting 22. He was able to draw the Rhiwbina defence before passing back inside to the supporting runners from where, his brother Ioan, enjoying another energetic game at flanker, gathered the ball and was able to step the last line of defence for the second five-pointer of the game.

Brecon were enjoying a period of supremacy at this point, in terms of both territory and possession, and pressed hard for further scores before the half time whistle. This duly came from first phase possession where, after a lineout drive, the ball was released to the back line where Gunter brought centre Eifion Jones into play as he cut back at the defence. Once he broke the initial press from Rhiwbina, he was able to time his pass perfectly to enable winger Edwards, coming in off his flank seeking work, to run in the third try, again converted by Gunter as the scoreboard indicated the home team building a promising lead. Fly half Gunter further added to this when, following a visiting indiscretion, he calmly took advantage of the wind to stroke a great three pointer over the posts from close to the halfway line.

Brecon would have been looking to drive home their advantage at this point, and look to put some distance between themselves and Rhiwbina. The visiting team are a solid, proud unit however, and they were not going to sit back and allow this to happen. This was also a period where the Brecon scrum saw some disruption and come under increasing pressure. This led to a series of setpieces close the home try line and, counter to the run of play of the previous twenty minutes, the visitors sought to press home their advantage at scrum time and, ultimately, the patience of the referee was pushed too much and, following another disrupted scrum, he went under the posts for a penalty try at the same time handing out a yellow card to one of the Brecon front row.

This set something of a pattern for the remainder of the half, if the not the game, with the visitors looking to press home their setpiece advantage, and the home team looking to play a high tempo game attacking from all areas. Fullback Owen Morgan was prominent in this period, as were the second row of Darren Witcomb and Alwyn Lee, the latter forming a hugely welcome addition to the squad as he returns from previous injuries.

The half time whistle came with the home side leading 24-10, and the coaches would have been pleased with some aspects of their charges’ play, although aware that they were putting themselves under pressure through their own errors as they sought to play their expansive style. Their commitment in this regard is to be welcomed, although they will be more aware than anyone that they need to be more precise and accurate in their execution.

The second period saw Rhiwbina have the wind at their backs, and their fly half had shown in the first half that he had a varied kicking game so he would look to use the strong breeze to press Brecon deep into their own half. The hosts enabled this to happen to some degree and they committed additional errors that provided opportunities for the visitors to clear pressure, and to spoil the committed efforts of the home team to secure territorial advantage into the wind.

Additionally, the home team were still a man down for the opening exchanges of the second half and this dictated a change in tactics at scrum time, with a member of the backs joining the pack to shore up the creaking scrum. A direct negative of this was that, in seeking to stay down and scrummage for as long as possible, this provided space in other areas, and the sharp visiting scrumhalf spotted this as, with Dean Gunter tied up at the scrum, he charged at the 10 channel and was able to evade the covering tackles to race over for a well-deserved score.

This became a recurring theme of periods of the second half although Brecon countered this memorably with some of the rugby they played, particularly as they recycled the ball and offloaded out of the tackle to keep the game alive. From deep in their own 22, and following a strong driving lineout, Gunter communicated to scrum half Scott Gibson to break blind, and the two half backs combined to break the first line of defence. From this, and just in their own half, Gunter was able to release winger Jake Crockett who brushed through the full back’s tackle to race 50 metres to score a great try.

Better was to come however as Brecon again pressed through multiple phases, and after skipper Williams, and flanker Edwards combined to set up a further platform, quick hands from impressive prop Aidan Luxton put Williams through again, and he offloaded in the tackle to a marauding Lee who, in turn, put supporting hooker Williams away with another skilful offload. The hooker then raced forward before floating a perfectly waited ‘blind’ pass infield to the pacey Gibson to gather and plunge over for a magnificent score, duly converted by Gunter.

This provided Brecon with a good cushion as they moved into the final period, and this was to prove to be a comfort as the valiant opposition did not meekly surrender but instead pressed forward again, putting the home pack, and defence, under increasing pressure. This was duly rewarded when the referee again lost patience with the Brecon defence and moved under the posts for the second penalty try of the game.

This proved to be the final score of an ultimately entertaining game, with both teams contributing to the occasion in their different styles. The final whistle saw Brecon run out winners by 36-24 and they now move into the hat to see who they will be facing, and where, in the next round. The score suggests a comfortable win, although Rhiwbina provided formidable opposition, particularly through their scrum and strong carrying ball handlers. Brecon’s errors did allow their visitors to retain a foothold in the game, and this is a current frustration for the home team and supporters, insomuch as there is an anticipation that there is much more to come once the precision and accuracy improve.

The return to league duty sees Brecon travel down to Ystrad Mynach to take on the powerful Penallta team, who’s own early season results sees them showing formidable form that means that Brecon will be in for a mighty tussle next Saturday. Brecon will not be daunted by this, and will merely focus on their own game, and making improvements in that. Additionally, the continued impressive form of the second team in their new Conference, indicates that the club is currently enjoying better strength in depth to enable them to withstand the rigours of what will surely be a long hard season.