Pontypool United RFC | 1st Team 33 - 32 Brecon RFC | 1st Team

Match Report
21 April 2019 / Team News

Pontypool Untd 33 - Brecon 32

Travelling to Pontypool a week before the Plate final was never going to be an easy task. In spite of all the talk on the surface about focussing on the game in hand rather than what is to come next week, in the back of everyone’s mind was the showcase final at the Principality Stadium. Their opponents, Pontypool United also presented a major challenge. Their season has certainly improved since the start of the year with seven wins from the nine matches played and with one of those defeats being at Brecon. That run of form has lifted them into third place in the table and they were looking to notch up a notable victory over the league leaders and Plate finalists.

The weather was perfect. There was hardly a breeze and it was warm in the spring sunshine. Everyone anticipated a hard fought match with both sides intent on making the most of the conditions. The large crowd of supporters were not disappointed. Both sides attempted to use the width of the pitch as they served up a match in which nine tries were scored with the final deciding score coming with the final play of the day. From a Brecon perspective it was disappointing that they ended up on the wrong side of a narrow one point defeat which finally ended their 100% league record after a run of 18 straight wins.

While Pontypool must take credit for the way that they played and the desire that they showed it has to be said that Brecon also contributed towards their defeat. They started slowly and gave away an early score. Then in both halves they gave away a soft try. To further compound matters they took a four point lead with minutes to go. When their now dominant scrum earned a penalty which was put into touch on half way they seemed to have battled their way to a winning position with the clock about to turn red. However, they lost control of the ball at the line out and gave away a penalty. That was kicked to the corner and three penalties later Pontypool’s efforts were rewarded when they drove over the line for the winning score.

Whether Brecon were fully focussed on the match at the start is hard to determine but whatever the reason they were certainly sloppy. They failed to take the kick off cleanly and then had a clearing kick charged down. They regained possession and tried to run out of defence but lost the ball and allowed Pontypool an early score.

When Brecon hit back immediately with an excellent try it seemed that concentration was fully restored. Ioan Edwards made a great run and then some lovely handling in mid-field allowed Tudor Roderick to put Dafydd Edwards clear for a try which Dean Gunter converted.

Having settled somewhat Brecon took control of the game. Davey Herdman was held up close to the line and after a great Will Prosser break a try was squandered as the scoring pass was dropped. Ryan Price looked dangerous on the right wing and Andy Nicholl got close before Gunter extended the lead with a penalty.

Brecon quickly returned to the attack and looked dangerous as Ryan Williams peeled off at the back of a line out. With the ball in the home 22, Brecon then committed an act of utter stupidity. An insignificant confrontation arose and was over almost before it had started, only for a Brecon player to throw the ball at an opponent. The referee awarded a penalty and the Pontypool scrum half spotted that the Brecon team had not realigned. He took a quick tap and moved the ball wide into open spaces. Ryan Price made a huge effort to cover back and made a great tackle but with lots of support Pontypool completed the move under the posts to take the lead as the conversion was added.

Brecon responded again with Eifion Jones and Owen Morgan making breaks but without ever completely breaking a very strong Pontypool defence. It took a very clever piece of play to finally do that. Dean Gunter spotted that the defensive line was very flat and on half way he put in a lovely chip over the defence. He gathered himself and off loaded to Owen Morgan who sped away for a try under the posts. Gunter converted.

Brecon should have taken a five point lead into half time but they made a hash of gathering the kick off, surrendered a penalty and Pontypool closed to within two as they entered the half time break.

The second half started as did the first, with Pontypool registering on the scoreboard first. An attempted steal at a line out resulted in a misdirected tap which Pontypool pounced on. From there they tested the Brecon defence and Brecon tried, not for the first time to run out but the ball was dropped and Pontypool pounced to gather, score and take the lead.

Again Brecon hit back. Ryan Price almost got over in the corner and then hooker Ryan Williams made a great break through mid-field but lost the ball when a try seemed likely. However the pressure told and a great period of continuity was rewarded when Ioan Edwards showed lovely hands to put Eifion Jones in for a try. Pontypool quickly restored their lead with a penalty and Brecon returned the compliment when a scoring pass was deliberately knocked on. Gunter scored from the penalty and with Pontypool reduced to 14 men the game seemed to be flowing Brecon’s way.

Almost immediately back on the attack they looked to extend their lead instead the reverse happened. A blind pop up pass in the home 22 was intercepted and the Pontypool wing ran the length of the field to score.

For the fourth time Brecon hit back. Ewan Williams and Jonathon James, who had both joined the fray off the bench, carried aggressively and eventually Dafydd Edwards was put over for his second try. Dean Gunter converted brilliantly from the touch line to give Brecon a four point lead with little time remaining.

The rest was history as the pumped up Pontypool team claimed the decisive score. Much to Brecon’s relief the afternoon was not a total disaster. All players on the park emerged unscathed. They also claimed two league bonus points and then they heard the news that their nearest rivals, Penallta, had lost without claiming a point to leave Brecon needing just two more league points from their remaining three games to claim the league title and move into the promotion play offs against Glamorgan Wanderers. But for now all roads lead to the Principality Stadium for the Plate final on Sunday 28th.