Brecon RFC | 1st Team 26 - 3 Pontypool United RFC | 1st Team
Ioan Edwards
Try 1
Adam Hoskins
Try 1
Eifion Jones
Try 2
Dean Gunter
Conversion 3

Match Report
24 March 2019 / Team News

Brecon 26 - Pontypool United 3

With only just six weeks left of the current season Brecon commenced their final push towards a possible league and cup double. The task is certainly not an easy one with 8 league and possibly two Cup matches to be played. Statistically it is an enormous challenge and a measure of just how difficult it will be came in their match against 4th placed Pontypool United. United started the season slowly but have gradually improved and elevated themselves to fourth spot after a run of 5 successive victories, starting at the turn of the year. It was, therefore, clear that Saturday’s match at Parc de Pugh was not going to be an easy warm up prior to the Cup semi-final in a week’s time. Deep into the second half that prediction was certainly holding true.

Brecon started brightly and quickly took an early lead. After ten minutes they extended that lead and, on a calm spring afternoon, it appeared that pre-match predictions of a close contest appeared to be totally misjudged. In fact everything pointed towards a comfortable bonus point victory. The first two tries were beautifully executed. Eifion Jones kicked through to set up a good attacking position. Off an impressive Ioan Edwards line out steal Brecon spread the ball left with forwards Ryan Williams and Jon James making good ground. When the ball was switched back right hooker Ryan Williams cut a beautiful line against the grain and split the defence. His pass to flanker Ioan Edwards was perfectly executed and Edwards score under the posts. Dean Gunter converted.

On the ten minute mark Brecon extended the lead to 14 points with another lovely try. Dafydd Edwards, following up a long kick up-field, put the Pontypool fullback under pressure and his attempted relieving kick gained little ground. From the line out Brecon maintained possession through a number of phases with Ryan Williams again being prominent. They almost breached the line on a number of occasions but the United defence held until the ball was moved into midfield. With dummy runners drawing the attention of the defence, Eifion Jones cut back on the angle, split the defence and crashed over under the posts. Again Gunter converted.

At this stage everything seemed to be comfortable and working to plan. Brecon were confident and from the kick off they ran out of defence only to be halted when Ryan Price was bundled into touch on the ten metre line. At this point the game took a sudden and dramatic change. For the remaining 28 minutes of the half the game was played exclusively within the Brecon territory. Pontypool maintained possession well and drove hard at the Brecon defence. That defence was absolutely superb with the likes of Davey Herdman and Cameron Gardner showing a great appetite for work while operating under great pressure. Once or twice Pontypool came close to the line but each time they were denied.

While the defence was superb and had to be applauded home supporters became anxious as Brecon just could not break the stranglehold Pontypool had on territory. When Brecon did effect turn overs or caused the ball to be spilled the escape strategy was hampered by errors, both handling and in the disappointing execution of relieving kicks. Chips over the defence were tried but they almost all fell into the hands of a very competent Pontypool back three who quickly brought the ball back into the Brecon half. Pontypool battered away with a range of strategies from attempted driving mauls to movement which used the full width of the field. The fact that the score remained at 14 points to nil to Brecon as the teams headed for the changing room at half time was purely down to a magnificent defensive effort.

The second half started as the first ended. Brecon had opportunities to put pressure on their visitors but a throw which wasn’t straight at the line out and a scrum where Brecon failed to concentrate and gave away a penalty allowed Pontypool to once again take play deep into the Brecon 22. Once again the defence was magnificent but supporters’ nerves were hardly calmed as the thought that surely one missed tackle would be enough for Pontypool to close the gap and then, with momentum in their favour, anything could happen. For twenty minutes the pattern of play remained the same with the only change coming when Pontypool opted to kick a penalty at goal and reduced the arrears. While the points on the board were important for Pontypool the penalty allowed Brecon to kick off and enter their opponents half. Once there the balance of the game shifted. Brecon started to take control of the scrums and at last Pontypool were forced to defend. They did it efficiently but Brecon were ruthless. Ewan Williams, Elgan Lewis and Adam Hoskins stretched the defence and finally Hoskins crossed from short range for a try which Gunter converted.

Within minutes Brecon extended their lead and claimed a bonus point with their fourth try. Eifion Jones kicked through and his chase put great pressure on the Pontypool wing as he tried to gather near his line. He spilled the ball and Jones pounced for a try which put the game out of the reach of Pontypool. From there to the final whistle Brecon looked far more comfortable. Pontypool did make one final flurry but again to no avail and at the end of a match, where they gave everything and dominated possession and territory, they returned home empty handed.

Now all thoughts turn to the Cup Semi-final next Saturday at Ebbw Vale against rivals, Penallta. This will undoubtedly be a titanic struggle between the top two teams in the league in the first of three season defining head to heads to be faced before the season is over.