Brecon battled back after an early setback to steal a dramatic one-point, 27-26 victory, away at Bonymaen at the weekend.
BONYMAEN 26 - BRECON 27
WRU CHAMPIONSHIP WEST
Facing committed opponents on their home turf is never easy. That was particularly true at Bonymaen, where the hosts boasted a proud home record and a recent run of four consecutive wins.
For Brecon the task was made even more difficult when, for the third successive time, they allowed the opposition to take an early lead. The fact that they fought back to win 27-26 was a credit to the resilience and fitness of the team.
Always behind after the Bonymaen’s early try they finally claimed victory with a magnificent penalty with just two minutes remaining.
As Dion McIntosh placed the ball seven metres in from touch and just two metres inside the Bonymaen half, both sets of supporters knew that the outcome of a tremendously competitive game was likely to be decided by this one moment. The omens were not good from a Brecon perspective. Dion, just a minute before, had narrowly missed a penalty closer to both the centre of the field and the Bonymaen posts. The crowd knew it, and as Dion ran up to take the kick one home spectator shouted out: “No chance mate, you messed up the last one, no chance!” The interference didn’t phase McIntosh as he struck the ball straight and true between the uprights.
Yet in a game of mixed fortunes the final act still had to be played. Bonymaen kicked off with a minute left on the clock. Brecon cleared, but with a kick that started just outside their 22 and landed just on the touchline in the Bonymaen half. Play was brought back to where the kick was made and the final play started with a Bonymaen line-out almost on the Brecon 22. They won the ball, and attempted to set up a driving maul but were held. They then released the ball across the backline and after four phases, where they made no progress against a stubborn defence, outside half Cameron Setter, went for a drop goal. Everyone held their breath but the ball sailed just wide, the referee blew for full time and Brecon’s team and travelling support celebrated the narrowest of victories over a very good and committed home team, who had victory snatched from their grasp.
Brecon’s head coach, Dale McIntosh, summed up the emotions with his end of match team talk: “Guys, I knew you could do it. All one to 20 of you were outstanding. You persevered against really committed and good opponents, and you stuck to the things that we know we can do well.
“This is the start of a few BIG weeks where we will be challenged, but before we look ahead to that I must say that I am proud of our response today. Every side wants to beat us and we have expectations. Together that puts pressure on us but we handled it well, showed respect and no arrogance and claimed a great win against a tough and motivated team.”
Dale’s belief in his charges was perhaps not totally felt across the range of supporters who experienced the full range of emotions during the afternoon. There was disappointment as Bonymaen took an early lead.
After a cautious start by both sides, where kicking dominated, Bonymaen made the most of their opportunity when Brecon, for the first time, attempted to play out of defence. Just outside his 22 Dion McIntosh put in a lovely chip kick over the defence and Sam Jones gathered and almost broke away from halfway. He was just caught, brought to ground and penalised for holding on. Bonymaen kicked to touch, won another penalty and off a line-out on five metres scored the opening try which Setter converted.
Hope was the next emotion as Brecon quickly hit back. Good work at the breakdown by Matthew Williams and Geraint Powell laid the platform, then from a penalty Brecon went for a line-out in the corner. At first, they were repulsed but won a second penalty and off the next line-out showed patience to finally drive Osian Davies over for a try, which McIntosh converted.
That hope was short lived. Bonymaen stretched Brecon’s defence with a penetrating run by centre Benjamin Davies. Brought down in the Brecon 22, he delivered good ball and outside half Setter kicked wide for his wing. Two Brecon players had it covered but the bounce was wicked and went straight into the arms of wing Scott Clancy who put supporting second row Tom Poole over in the corner.
Disappointed, Brecon hit back with a McIntosh penalty, but the remainder of the half was dominated by the home side. Brecon held out until the final minute when finally, the defence cracked as flanker Andrew Pritchard ran in to score under the posts. The conversion gave the home team a deserved 19 points to 10 half-time lead.
Hope for the Brecon faithful resurfaced again as Brecon started to dominate territory in the second half, but although pressure was built the final accuracy was missing. Three line-outs in the home right hand corner came to nothing as Brecon either failed to secure possession, knocked on or gave away a penalty. They created a chance when Dion McIntosh kicked wide for Sam Jones. Sam just failed to gather behind the remnants of the defence. Still the score they so desperately wanted wouldn’t come until Brecon forced their way deep into the home 22. Brecon drove for the line and were stopped illegally. When the penalty was awarded, scrum half Geraint Workman reacted quicker than anyone else. From his quick tap he stole over for a try which McIntosh converted.
Now just two points down and in the ascendancy, there was belief that Brecon could do it, but that was quickly dispelled as Bonymaen scored immediately. Brecon were penalised on half way and Bonymaen went for the corner. Off the line-out they scored their fourth, bonus point try, and converted to restore their nine-point advantage.
Desperation now crept in with time running out and two scores needed. By now, however, Brecon were looking the fitter side and the scrum began to drive their opponents back. Deep in the 22 they took a scrum after a penalty. They drove Bonymaen back and when the ball came out the home defence was caught narrow. A wide Mcintosh pass gave Tom Richards space and he finished with a try on his first start of the season following injury. The conversion was good and the final climax was set up with, the rest being history and euphoria being the best word to describe the Brecon contingent’s final emotions.
Next week it is a break from the league matches as Brecon face the trip to Bedwas for a Cup quarter-final match. The one thing that the players will know is that some hard work lies ahead in the coming weeks.