WRU Championship West

Brecon 25 – Narberth 20

Brecon faced probably their biggest challenge of the season when they hosted league leaders Narberth. Narberth arrived at Parc de Pugh with a 100% league record.

The reverse fixture, played at Narberth on 27th January, was a close affair with the home side just about prevailing by 18 points to 15. With Brecon realistically striving to finish at least in second place behind the visitors this was probably the most important game of the season.

Brecon FRC
Prop forward Andy Nicholl crashes towards the tryline (Pic by Mark Griffin) (Mark Griffin)

With so much at stake Brecon would have hoped to get off to a good start in front of a very large crowd. If that was the hope then the reality was far removed from that aspiration. After just ten minutes Brecon found themselves 10 points down having conceded two soft tries. They bounced back with a try of their own but as half time approached, they found themselves 20 points to 8 down. Even their most ardent supporters will have felt that, against an accomplished team, the mountain was too great to climb.

Thankfully that was not the attitude of the players and as half time approached so they scored a great converted try and reduced the deficit to just 5 points. Into the second half they took control and another converted try and a penalty gave them a 5 point lead which they carried to sixty fifth minute. At that point the game was halted as flanker Osian Davies suffered a worrying neck injury.

Up to this point Osian had been outstanding. His defence and work at the breakdown combined with his powerful running singled him out as one of Brecon’s outstanding players.

A fifteen-minute break ensued while Osian received every care and attention on the field as everyone waited for the ambulance and medical support. When the game finally resumed Brecon succeeded in holding on to their five-point advantage to record an outstanding 25 points to 20 victory. The after match celebrations were a little muted as everyone anxiously waited for news from the hospital. Perhaps the greatest sigh of relief came when a photograph showing Osian on his feet and leaving hospital, was received.

Aside from the trauma of the injury to Osian, this was an outstanding game of rugby. Both sides sought to play an expansive game despite damp conditions. The teams were well matched and once Brecon had re-grouped, after an indifferent start, the game was very much settled by the team that showed the greatest creativity and desire. That team was undoubtedly Brecon as they overcame a twelve points deficit to score seventeen unanswered points.

Within minutes Brecon were five points down. Accomplished outside half Jonathan Rogers put in a beautiful wide kick/pass and Lewys Gibby won the ball brilliantly in the air. Brecon were forced to give away a penalty. Rogers put the ball into touch on the Brecon 5 metre line and the Narberth drive off the line out yielded a try for hooker Kyle Hamer.

Within minutes Brecon found themselves ten points down. This score came from nothing. The Brecon scrum led by front row Owain James, Aneurin James and Andy Nicholl won the ball against the head. The ball was kicked into the Narberth half and Narberth returned the kick with a high up and under. Narberth flanker, Tom Powell, brilliantly chased, leapt, won the ball and ran unchallenged through the final thirty metres to the line.

Tom Richards scoring (Mark Griffins) (Mark Griffin)

Ten points down after just ten minutes, Brecon had to respond if they were to have any chance of staying in the fight. To their credit they didn’t drop their heads and they showed great character to hit back with an excellent try of their own. Captain Alwyn Lee led the way. He won great ball at the line out and burst through deep into the Narberth 22. At the breakdown, Narberth were penalised and Brecon went for a line out five metres out. Geraint Powell won the ball at the front and when a number of forward drives were held the ball was spread wide. Great hands across the midfield pairing of Tomos Davies and Tom Richards and a brilliant incursion of full back Jake Newman freed wing Sam Jones and he scored in the corner.

Back in the game Brecon started to look threatening. Sam Jones again looked dangerous with ball in hand and livewire scrum half Geraint Workman prompted a promising attack. Narberth’s defence held and Brecon then committed a cardinal sin. Fielding a ball from a Narberth kick they handed

possession to Narberth as they panicked in defence and put their own players under pressure with sloppy passes. Narberth took their opportunity clinically. After a couple of phases centre Ilan Phillips broke through to score and Rogers converted. Rogers further increased their lead with a penalty.

As half time approached Brecon needed to hit back. Their response was superb. They put Narberth under pressure and a penalty gave them a line out on five metres. Again the attempted drive was halted so Brecon released the ball. Dion McIntosh drew the defence and then brilliantly fed Tom Richards who cut a wonderful angle on an unstoppable run. McIntosh converted and Brecon went in to the half time break just five points down.

The start of the second half could not have been more different from that of the first. Brecon looked sharp and with the backrow of Ioan Edwards, Logan McIntosh and Osian Davies causing problems for their opponents Brecon won a line out in the visitors 22. Off the line out Brecon created phase after phase with the James brothers, Aneurin and Owain prominent. Jake Newman got close on the left and the Narberth defence was pulled narrow. Quick wide ball then found left wing Jake Crockett on the right and he brilliantly stepped outside the last defender to go over for a try which Mcintosh converted to give Brecon a lead. Within minutes Brecon extended the lead to five points when a great kick chase yielded a penalty which McIntosh converted.

Narberth now threw everything into attack but Brecon matched their opponents. Their own line out was faultless and they stole an important ball when Narberth threatened in the Brecon 22. Then came the injury delay. At the restart fifteen minutes remained. Narberth threatened but were repulsed by some great defence and Brecon played out the last minutes to record a magnificent victory over a talented, and well organised Narberth team.