Brecon RFC | 1st Team 35 - 16 Abertillery / Blaenau Gwent RFC | 1st Team
Lewis Evans
Try 1
Gari Wyn Davies
Penalty 1
Jake Newman
Conversion 2
Penalty 1
Try 2
Jake Crockett
Try 1
Cameron Gardner
Try 1

Match Report
15 January 2017 / Team News


The post Christmas period has seen league rugby in Wales move into the second phase of fixtures, with clubs generally playing return matches against teams they will have already faced, or also catching up on previously cancelled fixtures and facing teams afresh. It was in this context that Brecon welcomed Abertillery Blaenau Gwent to Parc de Pugh having not faced them this season, although being aware that they were one of a number of teams who have enjoyed similar mixed fortunes thus far, and would be looking to secure some league points to move away from any potential end of season relegation scrap.


After a similarly inconsistent season, Brecon have started to string together some improved performances, gaining some vital points to move them up to the middle areas of the league. These performances have resulted in some fine victories, and the squad and coaching staff will have been impressing upon themselves the need to keep that momentum going.


Following the colder weather earlier in the week, the conditions in the Usk valley were calm and mild, and whilst the playing surface was soft on top, it remained relatively firm such that the home team would have been hopeful of bringing the expansive approach of recent weeks into play.


Early changes to the starting line up saw versatile prop, Richie Davies deprived a well earned rest on the bench, after an impressive start to his first season of senior rugby, although the match day squad remained strong with three quarters of the players having come through the ranks at the club.


Brecon showed real intent from the kick off and the immediate pressure applied saw an early opportunity provided to convert a penalty kick, although the soft surface proved difficult for kickers to plant their non kicking foot. Notwithstanding this, the home team then enjoyed a period of dominance, territorially and in terms of possession, that provided a hopeful indicator of the performance to come. 


They were able to put together some effective attacking phases, both from phase play and in returning loose kicks, and all fifteen players were featuring prominently in this regard. The visitors were committed in defence however, and all the early scoring opportunities, for both teams, were limited to penalties, with either side edging forward in three point increments. The visiting team were combative in the first period, and Brecon will have been frustrated that their possession was not converted into more points on the board, this being attributable to numerous unforced errors as the home team possibly forced the issue with an initial lack of composure. Abertillery were also a well organised team that, whilst not necessarily being the most flamboyant visitors to Parc de Pugh, were certainly effective in how they frustrated the home team at the breakdown and line out, and also kicked intelligently from hand to move themselves around the park. The running of the back three, particularly winger Jake Crockett, and the kicking from hand of full back Jake Newman, were effective weapons for Brecon during this period.


Following these initial frustrations, Brecon did start to become more precise in their execution, and this was markedly evidenced when, from a line out success, the team calmly went through a number of phases as play moved the width of the pitch, and some good hands from forwards Ioan Edwards and Mark Squirrell saw influential centre Cam Gardiner race in for the first try of the game, this being excellently converted from out wide, by full back Jake.


This took the game closer to the half time whistle, although there would have been certain levels of annoyance at some continued unforced errors by the home team. The half time break saw Brecon enjoy a 13-3 lead, and the coaches would have been keen to ensure that the improving home team sought to cut out any errors, and also kept up a high tempo expansive game as, when this was successfully implemented, was when they looked better placed to add to their tally.


The first period of the second half saw some inconsistencies in the home structure that led to the visitors gaining the first points in the form of a penalty kick. This seemed to galvanize the Brecon team as they realised that they were the stronger team but had not, as of yet, done themselves justice. There was a real focus and positive mindset, and  this saw immediate results as, from some driving phased play, fly half Gari Davies spotted the arcing run of fullback Newman, and, with a perfectly delivered pass, Jake was set free on a 40 metre run to the corner to beat the covering defence and to add to the home team's lead.


The following period saw Brecon really click into some form as they added increased pace to their attacking platform, and the ball starts to flow through the hands against a tiring defence. From an loose kick, winger Crocket returned with interest and, following some fine support work and controlled phase play the ball was worked wide to replacement Lewys Evans who, realising he didn't have the pace to finish the move, he took the tackle and laid the ball back to the supporting pack of forwards and, following a couple of drives, Evans was back into his more preferred position where he picked the ball up and drove over from close range for a further score.


The home team were very much in the ascendancy at this time and also saw Brecon maintain pressure on the visiting attacking options. This led to a mistake in midfield, where the ball went to ground and, following a kick and chase to the goal line, the only question to be answered was which of the two pursuing Jakes, who had both outpaced the cover, where going to score. The bounce of the rugby ball favoured the Newman variety of Jake on this occasion, and this helped to assure the home team's supremacy on the score board.


Whilst being denied on this occasion, the Crockett version was not to be outdone, and it was fitting that his attacking contribution was rewarded with the the final try, probably the best of the game. Substitute back rower, Craig Davies carried strongly into the heart of the defence and, whilst a visiting hand knocked the ball down initially, fly half Gari Davies recovered and broke through a number of tackles before the ball was quickly, and very skilfully, released wide to powerful winger Lucas Jones. He broke through a number of tackles on the flank and made important ground into the visiting 22 before timing a superb pass inside to the flying Crockett who flew in to score. This was a magnificent score, and it highlighted what this team is capable of in terms of its attacking intent - offloading at pace and with accuracy.


The five tries scored ensured that a bonus point victory was secured, with additional points from the boot meaning that Brecon had racked up 35 points. A minor negative was that the visiting Abertillery did fight back bravely to score a try of their own, although this does not detract from a comprehensive all round performance that is a further indication of the improvements being made by the home team. 


In addition to the effective fluency of the home team's offence, the victory was also based on a secure scrummaging performance with the busy Jimmy Williams showing great heart and being backed up by the rest of the pack, including lively performances from Andrew Hosie, Ryan Harris, Davey Herdman, the aforementioned Edwards and Squirrell, and skipper Ewan Williams, in addition to those who contributed from the bench. Additionally, the line out functioned relatively well, and the home pack enjoyed the upper hand in the physical breakdown exchanges


Half backs Davies and the lively Adam Hoskins ensured that the ball secured by the pack in a competitive performance was quickly transferred to the telemedicine outside backs, with the influential Joe Evans providing a secure hand at inside centre.


The next game sees the ever improving Brecon side visit league leaders Rhydyfelin and, whilst they represent a formidable challenge, enjoying an umblemished record in the league, Brecon should travel there with real belief that the performances they are currently putting in mean that they are becoming increasingly composed as a Division 1 team, and they have an opportunity now to measure their progress in that regard.

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