Brecon RFC | 1st Team 19 - 0 Risca RFC | 1st Team
Ryan Price
Try 2
Lewys Cooke
Try 1
Dean Gunter
Conversion 2

Match Report
27 January 2019 / Team News

Brecon 19 - Risca 0

For the first time in 2019 Brecon had the luxury of playing on home soil at Parc de Pugh. Sadly the weather failed to provide the welcome home that Brecon management, players and supporters would have wished for. The morning had been relatively calm and only slightly damp but as the hosts and visitors, Risca, took to the field for the pre-match warm up, so the weather took a turn for the worse. A strong wind blew down the field from the town end and the rain which started as a light drizzle became torrential. Even though the playing surface, at first, was good this quickly deteriorated, making life difficult for players and spectators.

The players sampled the elements as both teams lined up prior to kick off in order to play tribute to a Brecon RFC stalwart, Mike (Spike) Powell, who suddenly passed away in recent weeks.

Whilst most pundits would have forecast a Brecon victory nothing could be taken for granted and much would depend upon which side coped best with the adverse weather and made fewest mistakes. The other factor was the pressure which Brecon are under. The race for the title is very tight. While Brecon lead the table with a five point advantage over chasers Penallta and a further four points ahead of Brynmawr, one slip up would be all that would be required to open the door to the chasing clubs. Talking about slip up’s was appropriate in the conditions. Opting to play with the wind Brecon knew that they needed to make the most of the opening period when conditions would be at their best. By contrast fourth placed Risca were determined to make life as difficult as possible for their hosts.

During the opening ten minutes everything fell into place. With the aid of the wind Brecon soon put pressure on the visitors as they camped near the 22 metre line. At this stage they stuck to their successful pattern of play. They were prepared to handle and move the ball. This served them well as they opened the scoring with beautifully executed try. Ewan Williams won good possession at the line out and the ball was immediately moved wide with accuracy and pace. With decoy runners confusing the defence an overlap was immediately created and wing Ryan Price raced in at the corner. Dean Gunter converted beautifully from the touch line to give Brecon the best possible start.

Not only was this kick of Gunter’s beautifully struck but throughout the game his control was immaculate in difficult conditions. With the wind or against it, the ball was difficult to control but apart from one overstruck penalty to the corner Gunter looked in control. The problems the wind caused was clearly illustrated when Risca tried to kick their way out of defence. Seven points down and struggling to get out of defence, the Risca outside half decided to kick the ball wide. The ball swirled in the wind and the Risca wing completely misjudged its flight. By contrast Brecon’s wing Ryan Price judged it perfectly and in spite of the ball being wet and slippery he took the catch cleanly and raced away for his second try. The conversion failed but after ten minutes Brecon were 12 points up.

If anyone anticipated that after that start it would be a comfortable afternoon they were to be sadly proved wrong. Risca showed resilience and adapted to the increasingly slippery surface and ball. They kept the pattern of play simple with short passes and hard forward drives. This way they managed to keep possession while Brecon continued to attempt to play expansive rugby. They created openings but keeping possession of the wet ball was not easy and as the ball slipped out of their grasp, either in contact or at the end of ambitious passes, the opportunities to score died away.

When half time arrived Brecon still held their 12 point advantage but now they faced changing round into the teeth of the elements. Speculation amongst spectators revolved around how many points advantage was the wind was worth. At the highest extreme then Brecon faced the prospect of their first defeat.

When the half started it was immediately clear that Brecon were focussed on the task ahead. Defence was the priority and Brecon were up to the task. Sam Campell in the centre and second row Darren Witcomb led the waty with a string of massive tackles that rocked their opponents back on their heels. So effective was the rear guard that the game became bogged down. Risca worked and looked a competent team but such was the defence that opportunities were denied them. As they became frustrated so Brecon created for themselves. Cameron Gardner made a great break up-field and his run should have resulted in a try only for the scoring pass to be dropped. As the half progressed then it seemed more and more likely that the 12 point advantage would be sufficient for Brecon to hold on for the win. That feeling became certain thanks to a moment of brilliance. On halfway Witcomb struck with another thundering tackle which not only flattened his opponent but caused him to spill the ball. Scrum half Lewys Cooke picked up the loose ball and looked to pass but with the Brecon offensive line being disorganised he chose to run. On a difficult surface he dodged and darted and kept his feet while others floundered. He skipped through the first line of defence and into open spaces. There he looked for support but it was not on hand so he trusted his pace and balance. He rounded the last opponent and outpaced the cover to score under the posts. Gunter’s conversion ensured that Risca were now at least three scores behind. Risca were deflated and now Brecon looked to add a fourth bonus try. Time ran out in that quest but in testing conditions and against stubborn opponents they brought home the win that keeps them at the top of the league as they pass the mid-point of the season in terms of matches to be played.