Brecon RFC | 1st Team 18 - 8 Penallta RFC | 1st Team
Thomas Richards
Try 1
Lewys Cooke
Try 1
Dean Gunter
Conversion 1
Drop Goal 1
Penalty 1

Match Report
05 January 2020 / Team News

Brecon 18 - Penallta 8

Brecon started the New Year with the first of two season defining matches. On the first Saturday of the New Year they faced old rivals Penallta in perfect conditions at Parc de Pugh and in front of probably the largest crowd of the season to date. The game was perfect as a post festive season encounter. With both teams still very much in contention at the top of the league a victory was vital in order to maintain a realistic challenge. There was also history between the two sides. Brecon, on their way to the League and Plate Double last year, defeated their rivals in a great semi-final Plate match and then at their Ystrad Mynach home ground, where Brecon effectively ended Penallta’s hope of the title of champions and put themselves on a course which led to them claiming the title of League Champions. Also earlier in the year Brecon came away from Ystrad Mynach with the spoils at the end of an ill-tempered match. This game then had a lot riding on it and yet to the credit of both sides it was played out in the true spirit of the game.  Both teams were highly motivated and the physical battle was immense with big hits coming in from both defences and yet both teams showed ambition while moving the ball wide and attacking from deep. As could have been anticipated, the game was very close and was won through very narrow margins. Penallta had clear cut opportunities which they failed to take while Brecon made the most of their chances and scored two brilliant tries to settle the contest in their favour.

The game fluctuated with both sides having periods of ascendency and areas of the game in which they were superior. Brecon’s driving maul was a potent weapon, particularly off the line out in which Rowan Starkey, Ioan Edwards, Ryan James and Will Prosser were outstanding. Brecon also were excellent at the beak-down. Flanker Davey Herdman in particular had an outstanding game at this phase where he regularly turned the ball over or won a penalty. For Penallta, particularly in the second half, the scrum became an area where they gained the advantage, with excellent scrum half Aaeron Bidgood prompting and probing from the base to put Brecon under pressure. In the loose, flanker Aled Williams was a constant threat with ball in hand and twice delivered what should have been try scoring passes only for the ball to be spilled and the opportunities lost.

The game started with Brecon undoubtedly on top. Penallta struggled to contain Brecon’s tempo and an outstanding burst through the defence by the irrepressible Richie Davies almost led to an early home score. Brecon won a scrum on 5 metres and lost their chance when a couple of passes went loose and they found themselves back on half way. From there they hit back and a smart move down the left flank involving wing Ryan Price and full back Jake Crockett ended with Crockett being bundled into touch on the five metre line. Eventually a penalty opportunity came but that kick sailed past the posts. However, with his second attempt, which followed some great carrying by hooker Ryan Williams and flanker Ioan Edwards, Dean Gunter put Brecon 3 points ahead.

Fifteen minutes into the game and Penallta suddenly imposed themselves. Given the opportunity of territory, following a dropped pass while attempting to run out of defence, they put together a period of intense pressure. They maintained continuity of possession through a range of phases with forwards carrying and the backs moving the ball wide into space. Brecon’s defence in the face of the onslaught was outstanding with Eifion Jones and Tom Richards putting in some great tackles. Eventually, however, a wide pass put flanker Aled Williams in space with his left wing in support on the outside. He drew the defence and made the pass only for his wing to drop the ball. Penallta also created another chance after a loose Brecon kick gave full back Matthew Brewer the chance to counter attack. From his 22 he made ground to half way and with plenty of support put wing Laurence Pritchard away only for him to be cut down by an outstanding Tom Richards cover tackle.

With that attack having been repulsed Brecon used their driving maul to good effect, first to make ground and then then to win a penalty to allow Brecon to get back to within striking distance of the visitors’ line. The line out was won and the maul was set and yet somehow a Penallta forward came away with the ball. He was cut down by a great Ryan Williams hit before Brecon won another penalty. The decision was made to go for the corner at both this and at a subsequent penalty but on both occasions the attack were repulsed and it was Penallta who ended the half on the attack but with Brecon still three points up.

Penallta started the second half well and were soon on level terms when Brewer kicked a penalty but they should have been in front rather than being level. Bidgood took a quick tap penalty from an infringement at the kick off and stretched the Brecon defence wide to the right. The ball was then quickly re-cycled and moved back left where there was a huge gap in Brecon’s defence. With two players spare on the outside the ball was dropped and the chance of a try evaporated although the penalty for a previous infringement drew Penallta level.

 That parity was short lived. Brecon attacked from the kick off, forcing Penallta into some desperate defence. Stretched they found it hard to hold a typical Richie Davies charge and from the offload Will Prosser almost reached the line. When the ball was recycled quickly, Dean Gunter put in a lovely wide pass which found right wing Lewys Cooke unmarked and he duly scored in the corner.

Again Penallta won a penalty at the kick off but the attempt at goal sailed wide. The game at this stage was evenly balanced with both defences looking well organised and efficient and hard to penetrate. Brecon were the first to do it. Eifion Jones put in a great hit near half way and as Penallta scrambled to secure the ball they gave away a penalty. Gunter just missed from long range but now Penallta were pinned down in their 22. Dean Gunter made a break and almost managed to link with wide players who were in space. Although that chance was lost the pressure in the visitors’ 22 continued and finally Dean Gunter took the opportunity of putting Brecon into a two score lead with a neatly taken drop goal.

Again from the kick off Brecon gave away a penalty. With ten minutes to go Penallta went for a scrum, having been in the ascendancy at that phase for most of the half. This time they were rocked backwards. Brecon gathered a loose ball and Eifion Jones broke out of defence and gained a penalty deep in the Penallta half. They went for a line out in the corner but the ball was lost and Penallta cleared to the 22. This time the line out was cleanly won. The movement of the centre partnership of Eifion Jones and Tom Richards created a moment’s hesitation in the visitors defence and Eifion Jones made the most of the chance. He cut between two defenders and then found Tom Richards who had looped around inside with a perfect pass. Richard’s pace put him out of reach of any cover and he scored under the posts making the conversion a formality.

Fifteen points up and with just five minutes to go the game was effectively over but Penallta showed pride and courage by taking the game into the Brecon 22 and forcing a series of penalties. Finally their pressure told and on the stroke of time second row Kieran Mahoney crashed over for a deserved try.

With one big game out of the way Brecon now face an even bigger challenge next Saturday as they travel to unbeaten Newbridge for a 2:00pm kick off in their quarter final Plate match.