Following the confirmation of their promotion to the Championship, Brecon travelled to Pontypool United last week and confirmed their status as the second-placed team in League Division 1 East with an emphatic eight-try bonus point victory.
Pontypool United 0 – Brecon 54
Report by Ron Rowsell
There was considerable satisfaction in the victory. Rather than being awarded the points by a team which failed to fulfil their fixture, they faced a powerful Pontypool team which set out with the intention of upsetting the odds and claiming a victory over one of the League’s top teams. To their credit the home side battled hard, not just in the early exchanges but right through to the final whistle when the game was way out of their grasp. In the final phases they were determined to record a score but the Brecon defence remained rock solid in response to calls off the touchline from coaches Dale McIntosh and Gavin Dacey: “Don’t let them in. We want a nil on the score board.” At the final whistle those motivational calls had been heeded as Brecon registered a 54 points to nil victory.
The scoreline itself was as good as could have been expected but the nature of the win was perhaps even more impressive. Brecon played some superb flowing rugby with forwards and backs working seamlessly. Defence was as impressive as attack, and the attack was superb. Pontypool tried hard. First, they tried to combine aggression and match Brecon across the width of the park. Brecon were far too quick, on the ground, with ball in hand and in thought. They then reverted to a physical close quarter pattern but that hit a brick wall and finally they tried to catch Brecon cold with quick tapped penalties. They deserved credit for their doggedness while fighting a deficit which grew all the time.
The early exchanges were relatively even although there always seemed to be the hint that Brecon could, and would break through. When they did, after ten minutes, the try was a classic. Tom Richards, who looked dangerous throughout with his pace a devastating step, initiated the move. It was carried on by number 8 Logan McIntosh, who had a superb game. His offload to Owen Morgan, which was characteristic of his overall performance, was superb. With wing Morgan in space there was only one result and that was a try in the corner. Dion McIntosh converted superbly as he did for all but one of the eight tries. His performance off the tee was outstanding and matched the rest of his game, whether that was prompting attacks, taking on the opposition defence, or kicking accurately out of hand.
Owen Morgan again showed the pace and power of his running when he picked up his second try. Again, Tom Richards and Logan McIntosh combined and Owen Morgan required no second invitation to add to his try tally.
Pontypool at this stage rallied. They created opportunities and did get beyond the first line of defence but the cover was good and Brecon quickly returned to the offensive. Owen Morgan again got involved, this time, however, he was caught just short of the line but on his shoulder was young second row Ben Pritchard. He took the inside pass and scored. Not only was his support for this try good but his whole performance was impressive. He carried aggressively, using his large frame to break through tackles. Combined with that he showed good hands and an ability to know when to take the ball to ground in the tackle and lay off good ball. Undoubtedly, he is a youngster who has considerable potential.
Now 21 points up Brecon threatened a number of times to score and gain a bonus point before half-time. Morgan Price, playing out of position on the wing, created opportunities with good footballing skills but although Jake Crockett, Tom Richards came close to scoring, Pontypool were not going to make life easy and they held out for the remainder of the half.
Brecon started the second half brightly. Morgan Price again featured as he and Dion McIntosh created an opportunity but the ball was lost on the five-metre line and Pontypool were awarded a scrum. The front row of Iwan Dowling Jones, Dewi Edwards and Andy Nicholl now had the upper hand and drove Pontypool off the ball, allowing Logan McIntosh to break from number 8 and drive through the tackles for the bonus point try.
A word here for the whole of the front row. Dowling Jones had a great game in defence and with ball in hand. On one run he bounced through four attempted tackles before being halted. His physical lookalike, Richie Davies, was, as always, a standout player. In this match, however, he added an extra string to his bow. He ripped the ball out of a tackle in defence, set off on a run and then saw a huge empty space in the opponents’ half. He put in a superb, uncharacteristic kick, which would have led to a try if it were not for the cruellest of bounces. The other partners in crime were equally effective. Brecon are blessed with three quality hookers, Edwards, Aneurin James and Johnny Bowen. All featured with credit at some point in the game. The final cornerstone of the pack was Andy Nicholl at tight head. He had a big game at scrum time, carried powerfully and put in a lot of good work on a busy evening.
With the bonus point in the bag, Brecon could relax. However, this did not result in them being sloppy but encouraged them to display their full range of attacking prowess. After some great work involving two outstanding players in the Brecon team, second row Alwyn Lee and flanker Matthew Williams, Aneurin James was given a run and he linked with Jake Crockett who cut the home defence to shreds to score under the posts. Within minutes Crockett was at it again. This time he was the creator as he linked with Logan McIntosh allow him to go over for his second.
At this point Carl Blacker replaced Geraint Workman at scrum half. Workman followed up on his excellent performance against Newbridge with another great game. Brecon are fortunate to have two such talented scrum halves. Blacker made his presence felt immediately. He latched on to a pass off Owen Morgan who cut a great line on the inside of outside half McIntosh. He linked with Blacker who showed great pace as he ran in to score.
Kyran Dillion, on his first senior appearance off the bench, scored the final try after getting close on a number of occasions. Another young player with lots of potential making the moist of his opportunities to impress. The two remaining players, who thus far were unmentioned, were centre Tomos Davies and flanker Josh Millichap. Tomos Davies is just settling in to the team but has already shown a lot of class. His distribution and defence are excellent and he has a big role to play in the overall team performance. Josh is what he has always been, a great club man, and a player who never give less than one hundred per cent. The power of his carrying is remarkable and he in many ways exemplifies all that is good about this well balanced team which above anything else works hard for one another and have achieved their goal of winning promotion.