Brecon RFC | 1st Team 29 - 11 Dowlais RFC | 1st Team
Jake Crockett
Conversion 3
Penalty 1
Sam Hellard
Try 1
Oliver Lewis
Try 2
Joseph McDean
Try 1

Match Report
08 August 2021 / Team News

Brecon 1st XV 29 - Dowlais 1st XV 11

Finally, yes finally, after 17 long months, competitive rugby returned to Parc de Pugh. A large crowd welcomed both Brecon’s first and second senior teams back into action and there was a genuine sense of relief and pleasure. For Brecon’s loyal supporters the sense of enjoyment was heightened as the Brecon teams delivered two hard fought victories. The 1st XV overcame a powerful Dowlais team with an outstanding second half performance which delivered four excellent tries. The 2nd team held on for an outstanding 24 points to 22 victory against Bargoed 2nd XV. This was an exceptionally good win for a young team against the second string team of a Premiership Club.  

Things were not quite what they were pre-pandemic. Teams have had to adapt not only to a competitive contact competition but also to tweaks to the rules and a large number of changes to team personnel. One rule change in particular has had a major impact. Scrums now are awarded for a knock on only and so their influence on the game is dramatically reduced. This obviously had an impact on team selection and yet the influence of front row players was not entirely devalued. This was well illustrated with the contribution made by Brecon’s senior team front row players. Josh Pritchard, Richie Davies and Iwan Jones made big contributions carrying the ball, linking and tackling across the field, while Tom Witcomb showed great hands during his cameo. Andy Nicholl, also in a cameo role, made a great impact going forward with one drive blasting through the tackle, setting the visitors on the back foot and lifting the whole of the Brecon team.

From their last match in March 2020, the Brecon senior side was much changed. With some senior players moving on and with others unavailable the new coaching team of Matthew Lewis and Wayne Morris invested heavily in a new group of young players. Ben Griffin started at full back and was sound in sometimes difficult conditions. Joe McDean started on the wing and impressed scoring one try and almost bagging another only for the slightest brush with the touchline to deny him. Oliver Lewis had a very good game in the centre with his influence growing as the game progressed and as a reward he scored two excellent tries. Gareth Price in his first competitive outing at outside half, with the 1st XV, was neat and accurate in all he did and as he grew in confidence started to pose a running threat. Rhodri Jenkins in the second row faced mature and physically large opponents and could easily have been intimidated but he stuck to his task and contributed to an improving line out, although this is still an area for the coaches to work on. A number of more established younger players also made important contributions. Ryan Price on the left wing looked for work and was dangerous with ball in hand while his defence was excellent. Will Prosser at Number 8 was outstanding, particularly in the first half where the powerful Dowlais pack exerted huge pressure. He carried brilliantly and put in a number of important hits. Geraint Workman had a good game at scrum half. His distribution was excellent and he was always ready to up the tempo and take on the opposition. His replacement, Sam Hellard, certainly didn’t let anyone down and one great break lead to one of Ollie Lewis’ tries before he ended proceedings with a try of his own. Iwan Davies, on his first outing at openside with the 1st XV certainly didn’t look out of place as he produced his usual energetic game which has seen him excel with the 2nd XV.

The few more senior players in the side lead their younger counterparts brilliantly. Cameron Gardner was a rock in the centre and handled beautifully. Davey Herdman wa all action, strong in defence, impressive going forward and took on the responsibility of leading the side by example as captain for the day. In the second row it was great to see Mitch Collacott returning to the fold and he showed enough to suggest that he is more than capable of fulfilling the promise he has displayed in the past. Ryan James, who came on in the back row, was also impressive with one great catch and run from a kick off almost leading to a try. Finally Jake Crockett entered the game at full back at half time and proved to be a constant threat with ball in hand and his link work helped set up scoring opportunities. His kicking out of hand was also excellent and he converted three of Brecon’s 4 tries and added a penalty.

The final, comfortable win could hardly have been predicted during the opening quarter. Dowlais dominated possession and their big forwards drove hard around the fringes forcing Brecon on to the back foot for much of the time. They were rewarded when their hooker peeled off a line out drive and scored wide out. That proved to be the only score during a closely contested first half between teams with contrasting strengths. Dowlais used their bulk to drive through at close quarters and were well supported by their outside half’s big and accurate boot. Brecon were at their best when they moved the ball wide into open spaces. They were hampered, however, by failing to maintain continuity as they frequently spilled the ball or were inaccurate with pop passes out of the tackle. They also squandered opportunities being held up on the try line on one occasion, dropping the ball under the posts and just clipping the touch line in the act of scoring. The half ended, therefore, with Brecon still 5 points in arears and with a lot to do.

They clawed back 3 points when Jake Crockett kicked a penalty but fell further in arrears when ill-discipline presented Dowlais with two penalty chances, both of which were taken. Brecon’s response to the 8 point deficit was immediate and impressive. Ryan James started the attack with a great catch and run which almost led to a Crockett try. This time however, they were not to be denied and after Will Prosser drove to within five metres the ball was recycled quickly and Ollie Lewis crashed over. Brecon were soon in front when some great passing created space out wide for Joe McDean to score. Brecon now took complete control of the game. A great Crockett break and some lovely hands led to Ollie’s second try with the best being left to last. Sam Hellard made a great break through the middle; Will Prosser continued the moved before Andy Nicholl exploded through the Dowlais defence and to supply quick ruck ball. Gareth Price looped outside Lewis and Sam Hellard was on hand to score under the posts with the Crockett conversion bringing an end to a most pleasing winning start to Brecon’s competitive season.