Brecon RFC | 1st Team 24 - 29 St Josephs RFC | 1st Team
Jake Crockett
Try 1
Jake Newman
Conversion 3
Penalty 1
Daniel Thomas Howe
Try 1
Dafydd Thomas
Try 1

Match Report
05 April 2015 / Team News

Brecon 24 - St Joseph's 29

The scenario for Saturday’s match at Parc de Pugh could hardly have been better. Brecon were looking for at least two league points in order to claim the title of league Champions while their opponents St Joseph’s looking to collect a maximum five points to maintain their remote challenge for the title. Brecon had twice previously beaten St Joseph’s this season, once in the league and once in the cup, but since the start of the year St Joseph’s have made huge progress with a run of seven straight wins with some those being against other league challengers. Thus on a fine spring afternoon and in front of a large crowd, everything was in place for a classic encounter.

The match didn’t fail to live up to expectations. It had almost everything with six tries, a penalty try, sin binnings, a mixture of hard forward confrontation and lots of width and movement and to cap it all the result was left in doubt until the final whistle was blown. There was no doubting that for the first three quarters of the game St Joseph’s held the upper hand in the forward exchanges. Their huge pack ruled the scrum and in addition to putting the Brecon eight on the back foot for certainly the whole of the first half and the early stages of the second, they stole three balls against the head to deny Brecon any quality possession at this phase. In the line out too Brecon gave away possession at critical times. Four times in the second half, when they were chasing the game, the chose to kick penalties to the corner rather than go for goal. Those opportunities were wasted as possession was handed to their opponents with two throws which were not straight, a knock on and once when St Joseph’s read the throw and stole the ball 

The breakdown also caused Brecon problems as they found it difficult to clear out defenders who got in early and either stole the ball, forced players to hang on, or slowed down possession. With this as a background it wasn’t surprising that with sixty minutes gone Brecon found themselves 26 points to 10 down. The game then underwent a transformation. As Brecon came to terms at the scrum and provided ball on the front foot the game changed dramatically. Brecon’s backs came more and more into the game with continuity being maintained as Brecon suddenly found that having crossed the gain line it was much easier to clear their opponents out of the rucks. With that continuity they were able to maintain pressure and the deficit was reduced to just one score. In the ascendancy Brecon gave their all in an attempt to rescue the game at the death and they came close. When the final whistle sounded, however, it was the visitors who celebrated as they picked up the five league points they sought while Brecon were left with just one and one short of the minimum they needed to seal the league title with three games still to play.

Signs were ominous from the first scrum which was trundled backwards under the pressure of the biggest front five to visit Parc de Pugh in many a year. Matters became worse as St Joseph’s penetrated twice through the mid-field with powerful centre Mike Bendon scoring and converting the try following the second break 

Brecon’s response was immediate. Davey Herdman brilliantly claimed then kick-off and drove hard into the visitors 22. From the breakdown Brecon spun the ball wide and St Joseph’s were penalised. Brecon opted to go for touch rather than try for the posts and on this occasion their decision was rewarded. The drive off the line out was initially held but they regrouped and finally drove over for Danny Howe to claim the try. Jake Newman converted from a wide angle to level the scores.

Both sides then showed a willingness to move the ball wide and this suited Brecon. When full back Celfyn Davies entered the line he created space and St Joseph’s were forced to illegally kill the ball at the breakdown. Newman had little difficulty in giving Brecon the lead. 

The lead, which Brecon ultimately held for the only time in the match, was short lived. Brecon made a hash of the kick off and when they were penalised St Joseph’s followed Brecon’s lead and went for the corner. Their drive off the line out also proved productive as Elliot Rich was driven over for a try which Bendon converted.

Brecon fought hard to reduce the deficit before half time but they were hampered by their problems in the scrum and their lack of any real continuity. When they did get an opportunity following wing Joey Morgan’s great counterattacking run they threw away the opportunity as a crooked throw at a line out, 10 metres out, allowed St Joseph’s the luxury of a defensive scrum. With half time approaching, Brecon created a final opportunity. Centre Eifion Jones crashed through in the opponents 22 and with the line in his sights he was pulled back for a forward pass.

The second half could not have started any worse for the home team. Repeatedly Brecon lost the ball in contact and St Joseph threatened. A series of errors then gave St Joseph’s a scrum on the Brecon 22 and alarm bells clearly sounded. The scrum was re-set once but on the second occasion Brecon’s retreating scrum collapsed and referee Julian Smith had no hesitation in awarding a penalty try which Bendon easily converted 

Brecon now made a number of changes and suddenly their scrum improved and Brecon immediately looked more comfortable. They won a penalty and again went for the corner. That opportunity evaporated as they failed to gather the ball cleanly and again St Joseph’s cleared their lines after being awarded a scrum. With Joey Morgan counterattacking brilliantly Brecon again earned a penalty again opted to go for the corner rather than the posts. This time a crooked throw denied them for the third time in a similar situation.

With the clock inexorably counting down the time, Brecon decided to spread the ball at every opportunity. While it was the right thing to do it was not without potential danger and Brecon paid the penalty as St Joseph’s full back Josh Livitt intercepted on half way to run in unopposed for a try which extended the visitors lead to a clear 16 points 

Brecon having already set out their stall were now forced, of necessity, to continue. This time it brought its reward. Celfyn Davies held up and then delivered a lovely pass to wing Jake Crockett who showed why he has the team’s top try scorer when he skipped past defenders to streak in and round under the posts for his 23rd try of the season 

Brecon now ran everything. Penalties were taken quickly and the pressure mounted on St Joseph’s. Time and again No 8 Craig Davies carried and eventually the pressure told as Davies himself drove over and with Newman converting Brecon found themselves just two points adrift. The hope dimmed as, with time running out Bendon, kicked a penalty to restore a 5 point lead. Yet with minutes remaining Brecon had one last chance and they almost took it. Jake Crockett was given space near the left touch line. His run for the line was halted as a tap tackle brought him down inches short and Dafydd Thomas was clattered to the ground by a determined defence as he picked up almost on the line.

The final whistle blew and Brecon were left to chase just one more point to seal their title aspirations when the face Pontyclun away next Saturday.