Brecon RFC | 1st Team 24 - 12 Caerleon RFC | 1st Team
Jake Newman
Conversion 2
Try 1
Jonathan Bowen
Try 1
Dafydd Thomas
Try 1
Jake Crockett
Try 1

Match Report
17 December 2017 / Team News

Brecon 24 - Caerleon 12

After a break of 5 weeks without any rugby Brecon kicked off the second half of the season against Caerleon at a decidedly wet and heavy Parc de Pugh. Following the heavy snow of the past week and then the thaw and rain the surface at Parc de Pugh was challenging. The opposition also threw up an interesting challenge in that they travelled to Brecon with a bare 15 and no front row. This meant that the game started with uncontested scrums. To say that this put Brecon at a disadvantage would be an understatement. Unless Brecon wished to sacrifice their subs they were forced to field a front row. This has been an area of strength for Brecon this season and so that dominance was immediately lost. Their problems were further compounded when a Brecon forward was shown a yellow card and they were forced to play for ten minutes with 14 players to Caerleon’s 15. During this period Caerleon scored and then took the lead for the only time in the game, causing some anxious looks from the home team management and supporters. To their credit the team adapted to the conditions and the absence of a competitive scrum, to grind out a victory and ultimately a try bonus point.

In spite of the conditions, Brecon started the game very brightly. Forwards and backs linked well and they put Caerleon under enormous pressure. A couple of opportunities were created but not taken before on 5 minutes Brecon scored. Jake Newman entered the line from full back and made ground on the outside before turning the ball back inside. A defender’s hand knocked the pass down but Jake Crockett picked up and dived over in the corner.

At this stage everything looked straight forward. Brecon would play their normal fluid game, ignoring the conditions and their tempo and collective pace would overwhelm the opposition. Caerleon, however, had other ideas and tore up the script as Brecon became frustrated. What was needed was patience. Scores were never going to come easily on a surface that became stickier as rain swept across the ground and in the face of a resolute defence. Yet if Brecon maintained their early pressure through forwards and backs then scores would come. Instead players decided that a variety of kicks in attack was the way forward. It proved to be a flawed approach. Caerleon defenders picked off the possession and showed that they could keep the ball and exert pressure of their own. With ball in hand the visitors grew in confidence and the Brecon defence was tested. It held until Brecon were reduced to 14 men. Under pressure Brecon gave away a series of penalties, which Caerleon took quickly and finally they exploited Brecon’s lack of numbers in the backs as their wing dived over in the corner.

That score on 20 minutes was a wake-up call. Brecon worked hard and were soon again on the offensive. Jake Crockett crossed after having latched on to a beautiful wide kick from Josh Martin but he was ruled to be offside. Then Adam Hoskins almost crossed after a great line out drive and finally Martin ran, held the defence, and drew Dafydd Thomas onto the ball, allowing him to drive through the defence and score. Prop Kevin Jones was then held up just short and then with the half coming to a climax Caerleon posted a clear warning. Brecon dropped the ball in attack and Caerleon pounced and broke away. They linked well and were only finally halted in the shadow of the posts as the half came to a close.

The second half started as the first ended. When Brecon failed to put in a good clearing kick, Caerleon went through numerous phases and exerted immense pressure. Finally Brecon’s defence broke and Caerleon scored a try and added a simple conversion to take the lead.

Brecon were forced to look at and modify their approach to the game and to their credit they did. They became far more pragmatic and direct. Line out drives were effective and forwards offered themselves to carry the ball through the hard yards. None did it better than Man of the Match Darren Witcomb. Time and again he appeared with ball in hand driving at and beyond the gain line. Through this approach Brecon restored their lead. From a line out ten metres from the visitors line Brecon set up a drive. It ground to a halt on the line but Johnny Bowen broke off the maul and dived in for a score which Jake Newman converted.

With this change of approach denying Caerleon the ball Brecon began to take control. Two clear opportunities were squandered and one wondered whether the bonus point try would come. Eventually, however, the pressure told as Jake Newman entered the line from Full Back and stepped inside and through the hitherto tight visitors’ defence. The conversion was simple and the bonus point was secured. The game then drifted to its conclusion with Brecon knowing that they had successfully negotiated and won a hard fought game in difficult conditions and as a result they maintained their pressure on league leaders, Brynmawr.