Blaenavon RFC | 1st Team 14 - 24 Brecon RFC | 1st Team
Jonathan Bowen
1 Try
Adam Hoskins
1 Try

Match Report
31 December 2017 / Team News

Blaenavon 14 - Brecon 24

Brecon took advantage of Brynmawr’s inactivity on the last league Saturday of 2017. The hard fought bonus point victory at Blaenavon elevated them to the top place in the league with an impressive record of 11 matches, 10 wins and just one defeat. This current victory was certainly no formality. Although opponents, Blaenavon, find themselves at the lower end of the table they made life difficult for Brecon in conditions which were hardly conducive to flowing rugby. A strong wind drove across the heavy field giving neither side a particular advantage while making handling a kicking difficult and forcing both sides to be conservative in their approach.

In such conditions the forward battle was always going to be critical. In terms of size, Blaenavon certainly held an advantage and yet ultimately, Brecon won this battle and as a result won the game. The front row of Andy Nicholl, Jonathan Bowen and Kevin Jones were outstanding. Against big powerful opponents they just about held the advantage in the scrums in the early phases and then dominated that area as the game wore on. Their dominance brought two penalty tries at critical times and ensured not only the victory but also the bonus point.

In other facets of forward play the pack were also influential. The drive off the line out was well organised and effective and Brecon’s first try came directly from such a play. Then as Blaenavon made the most of Brecon’s mistakes and mounted a serious threat so Brecon’s main carriers, Ewan Williams and Darren Witcomb, came more and more into the game to ensure that, finally, the home challenge was extinguished. Ultimately Brecon secured five points while Blaenavon emerged empty handed when in truth they deserved something out of the game.

Brecon started the game looking to play their normal expansive game. They threatened a few times but with a greasy ball failed to register anything on the score board. Blaenavon finally relieved pressure with a great piece of individual play. With the scrum under pressure on their own 22 their Number 8 broke clean away and was only finally halted on the Brecon 22. Blaenavon then showed enterprise themselves as a lovely switch back inside severely tested the Brecon defence. The warning was heeded and Brecon adopted a more pragmatic approach. When they were awarded a penalty on half way they kicked to touch into the home 22. The drive off the line out was brought down and this time Brecon went to the corner. From 5 metres the tight maul swept over the line and Jonathan Bowen claimed the try.

The score should have been the platform for Brecon to consolidate their advantage but from the kick off a simple mistake allowed Blaenavon right back into the contest. A dropped ball at the kick off gave Blaenavon possession deep in the Brecon half. They maintained possession well and truly tested the Brecon defence. It held through numerous phases but eventually after almost 10 minutes of incessant pressure Blaenavon crossed the line and converted to take the lead.

This time it was Blaenavon’s turn to lose the ball at the kick off and Brecon took advantage to exert pressure of their own. A number of penalties to the corner failed to replicate the accuracy which led to the first try and it took a piece of imaginative and skilful play to unlock the home defence. On half way Josh Martin took a flat ball and threaded through a lovely grubber kick. Jake Crockett showed great hands to pick up the ball under severe pressure and in one movement pop the ball up to Adam Hoskins. The full back, who had already threatened on a number of occasions, cut clean though the stretched defence and outpaced everyone to score under the posts. Amazingly the conversion squirted wide of the mark.

The game then entered a quiet period. Brecon tried to work with the ball in hand and grind the opposition down. To an extent it was effective. Gradually they began to dominate territory and once they won a scrum on the home 5 metre line a score was inevitable. Brecon’s scrum was completely dominate by this stage and after the third scrum was brought down the referee awarded a penalty try.

Almost immediately Blaenavon hit back, this time in an uncharacteristic way. On half way they moved the ball to the left wing who stepped outside the tackle and sprinted clear to score in the corner. The conversion was successful and Blaenavon were back to within just three points.

With the score so close Brecon reverted back to what had proved successful earlier. They kept possession and pressurised the home side. Finally they earned a scrum on 5 metres and again the referee lost patience with the home team as they did all they could to try to halt the advancing Brecon scrum. The second penalty try ensured the win and secured the bonus point. With the weather unlikely to improve by next Saturday Brecon will again have to be prepared for a tight hard fought game when they face a powerful Dowlais unit at Parc de Pugh.