Nelson RFC | 1st Team 19 - 21 Brecon RFC | 1st Team
Dafydd Edwards
1 Try
William Prosser
1 Try
Jake Crockett
1 Conversion
3 Penalty

Match Report
30 January 2022 / Team News

Nelson 19 - Brecon 21

Brecon faced a serious challenge as they travelled to face third placed Nelson. Nelson are always difficult opponents particularly when they are on their home turf and in front of their large crowd of home supporters. Brecon’s task was particularly hard as they were without a number of senior players. In any team the front row, back row and half backs are critical areas and can often determine the course of a match. Brecon supporters, therefore travelled wondering how Brecon would cope when they were short of established first team players in all of those areas. The anxiety proved to be unfounded as the team built a good lead with the wind at their backs and then hit back in the closing moments to claim an impressive victory. This was a great battling performance and the players who stepped up from Brecon’s successful second team deserved praise.

Ewan Williams, at number eight, was the only first team regular in the back row. He was truly outstanding, particularly with ball in hand and he set a wonderful example for his young compatriots. Matthew Williams at open side and Josh Millichap on the blind made one of their rare 1st XV starts and together with replacement Iwan Davies accepted the responsibility so well that they looked as if they had fulfilled that role on a regular basis. In the front row Tom Witcomb took the responsibility of anchoring the scrum at tight head. He did a great job, showing up in the loose and helping his front row partners, Dewi Edwards and Iwan Dowling Jones edge the early scrummages. When he was joined by replacements Jamie Evans and Ben Kenchington the momentum was maintained right to the final whistle. At half back Brecon were forced into a late re-shuffle. Scrum half Sam Hellard renewed his regular second team partnership with Gari Davies. Sam was his usual lively and effective self while Gari Davies rolled back the years and looked completely at home in the outside half berth. Second team captain James Hellard also fulfilled an important role. He came on at a critical time when Gari Davies was forced off with an injury and the backline was re-shuffled with Jake Crockett moving to 10 and James slotting into the centre. Brecon were down at the time and it was thanks to the composure of the replacements that saw them overhaul their opponents in the dying minutes.

With so many changes, Brecon supporters hardly knew what to expect as the game started. They were helped by the fact that morning rain had eased and they had the benefit of starting with a stiff breeze at their backs. Initially, however, they struggled as the accomplished Nelson full back counter attacked and won a penalty which Nelson’s wing converted.

Brecon, however, quickly put the setback behind them. After their first penalty struck the upright they enjoyed a period of pressure and they took advantage of their territorial dominance with a great try. Gari Davies made a great break on the home 22. His offload and then some great hands put second row Will Prosser in possession with two players outside. Will, who performed well all afternoon, took the brave, perhaps foolish, option of looking outside and then straightening and taking on the defence. He did it brilliantly and crashed through and over in the corner.

So often the kick off and how a team executes the exit from pressure has a big impact on the game. The first phase of Brecon’s exit was excellent. Rowan Starkey took the kick off cleanly in spite of being under pressure. The ball was moved neatly but then an ill-advised chip out of defence gave possession to the dangerous Nelson full back. He worked as dummy switch with his wing and Nelson looked threatening. That threat was extinguished as Ollie Lewis pulled off a great tackle and Sam Hellard set wing Dafydd Edwards off on a great counter attacking run. He was just bundled into touch in the 22 but from there Brecon maintained pressure and earned their reward. The try when it came was beautifully constructed. A good scrum provided the base for the initial attack. Great continuity based on powerful runs by Ewan Williams and Dewi Edwards followed by slick handling and great Owen Morgan surge and offload gave Dafydd Edwards the space to dive over in the corner. Jake Crocket converted beautifully and Brecon were two scores in front.

After a fairly even period Nelson scored their second penalty and Crockett responded with a well taken kick of his own. As half time approached Brecon were reduced to 14 men when Dewi Edwards was sent to the bin after being harshly adjudged to having pulled off a no arms, low tackle. The fourteen held out to the half time whistle but knew they faced a stiff breeze after the break.

That breeze played a big part in Nelson’s opening second half score. A long kick downfield and a great chase forced Brecon to concede a line out in their twenty two. Off the line out Nelson set up a rolling maul. Brecon were penalised and Nelson went back to a line out on Brecon’s 5 metre line. Nelson again attempted to drive over but again Brecon resisted only to be penalised as the referee decided the maul was pulled down to prevent a score and he awarded a penalty try. The contest was now evenly balanced but Brecon suddenly found themselves on the wrong side of the referee’s whistle and first, Nelson took the lead with their third penalty, and then extended their lead with their fourth.

Facing the wind Brecon suddenly took control of the game. Ewan Williams made an outstanding run out of defence and that was followed by threatening Ryan Price and Owen Morgan runs. Brecon failed to supply the killer final pass but the pressure led to a penalty which Crockett converted to bring Brecon to within a single point but with time running out. Brecon’s ill discipline resulted in them giving away a serries of penalties and as Nelson entered the Brecon half so the possibility of a win seemed to fade. However, a wonderful turn over at the breakdown allowed Ewan Williams and Owen Morgan to combine and carry the ball deep into Nelson territory. The move was halted with a high tackle and Brecon were awarded a penalty. Into the wind and fairly wide out it wasn’t a formality. The crowd went silent and Jake Crockett showed great composure to slot the ball through the middle of the uprights. Brecon cleared the kick off and the whistle confirmed that the team and supporters could return home over the Beacons in celebratory mood.