Visitors Maesteg Quins made one of their rare visits to Brecon and Parc de Pugh on a day when Brecon played their first matches since the passing of Norman Williams, one of the club’s longest serving, most loyal and dedicated members. 

Norman took on a huge range of roles during his involvement with the club which will have stretched back to the mid 60s. His early involvement was as a player, then committee member, volunteer builder, Club Chairman and in more recent years, groundsman. In that recent role Norman took a huge pride in his work and the condition of the pitches. A visitor once commented that for opposition sides the pitches were intimidating. The whole presentation of the playing surface and line marking showed that the club wanted to be successful, took a pride in their facilities and that would probably be reflected in the strength of the team. Norman’s work certainly had an impact over the years. The quality of the surface encouraged a running brand of rugby, a brand which has brought considerable progress and success.

Brecon v Maesteg
The late Norman Williams' tractor at Parc de Pugh (Mark Griffin)

The previous occasion when Maesteg Quins visited Parc de Pugh was when the leagues were first introduced in 1994. Both sides were in Division 8 Central - the basement league. Since that time both sides have made huge progress, with the current encounter taking place with both teams in Championship West. It was fitting, therefore, that both sides, together with the Athletic and visitors St Peters, lined up on the pitch before the start of the match, in front of Norman’s empty, and beloved tractor, as a mark of respect to a true, and respected, clubman. 

Just one element threatened to spoil the occasion - the weather. At the end of one of the wettest and mildest winters on record, the start of meteorological spring arrived with a mixture of snow, sleet, rain and low temperatures. The normally pristine Parc de Pugh surface was bog-like after the warm ups and everyone anticipated a battle which would be won by the side that adapted best to the softslippery underfoot conditions, the cold, and the wet ball. The fact that Brecon prevailed and recorded a thumping 73 points to 0 victory while playing attractive, flowing rugby impressed everyone, including the visitors who were generous in their congratulations.

Brecon 73 – Maesteg Quins 0

WRU Championship West

Brecon have recorded some other notable victories this season and yet in some matches, they have started slowly, or, after taking control, they have allowed their opponents some hope as their standard of play fell away for a time, before returning to their best. In this match that didn’t happen. Brecon produced a clinical 80-minute performance. After the first 30 minutes Brecon led by 28 points to nil, already having claimed a bonus point with their fourth try. The Quins then tried to hit back during the final 10 minutes of the half but Brecon’s defence was rock solid and they denied the visitors any opportunity to score. The second half was one=way traffic. In appalling conditions Brecon scored a further seven tries, with five posted by their outside backs.

This was a true team performance with every member of the 20-man squad making a significant contribution. The starting front row of Richie Davies, Aneurin James and Owain James found it difficult, at first, to impose themselves in the scrum on such a loose surface but gradually they took control. By the time the game entered the second half, and with the addition of the fresh legs of Andy Nicoll and Dewi Edwards, the scrum was totally dominant. That dominance was rewarded when Number 8 Logan McIntosh scored a push over try. Apart from the scrum dominance each member of the front row union carried aggressively and effectively, and on numerous accessions drove through the tackle to keep Brecon on the front foot.

In the second row Alwyn Lee and Geraint Powell were impressive. They won good line-out ball, carried impressively and showed great hands in spite of the unfavourable conditions. Powell earned his reward when he scored Brecon’s second try after supporting a powerful burst by centre Ollie Lewis. Alwyn Lee, as captain led by example as a great controlling and calming influence, as he has been all season.

The back row of Logan McIntosh, Osian Davies, Kristian Dacey and Ioan Edwards made life difficult for their opponents at the breakdown and, as with the rest of the pack, carried aggressively. McIntosh was rewarded with a second try after selling an outrageous dummy and then strolling in under the posts. Osian Davies attracted numbers as his opponents tried to stop his direct runs and this created space. Kristian Dacey and Ioan Edwards also showed great hands and a willingness to chase and work and disrupt their opponents’ ball.

With the forwards taking control for most of the game the backs had plenty of ball but, in the conditions, that is not always an advantage. However, Brecon’s showed great skill, with six of the squad adding to Brecon’s score. Scrum half Geraint Workman claimed the first try after some great initial runs by Jake Crockett and Sam Jones, and a lovely kick through the defence by full back Jake Newman. Workman, who was named Man of the Match, won the race to the ball and Dion McIntosh converted the first of his eight conversions to add to an excellent all round performance in tough conditions. 

Brecon v Maesteg
Geraint Workman provides a covering tackle in heavy playing conditions (Mark Griffin)

The next back on the scoresheet was wing Sam Jones. His try was brilliant both in terms of the build-up and the final, individual execution. The move started deep in Brecon’s half with some great forward driving play. On half way Sam received the ball. He beat the first defender with pace on the outside and then stepped in and then out to leave the last defender clutching thin air. On the other wing Jake Crockett was not to be outdone as he returned to some of his best form following an injury. He scored two excellent tries of his own, before creating a try for centre Tom Richards who cut a wonderful angle off a switch with Crockett in midfield. Replacement wing Ben Griffin also provided a superb cameo with two tries. The first after an impressive Dewi Edwards run and the second as he weaved through the defence. 

Brecon v Maesteg
Centre Tom Richards evades the visitors' defence to score under the posts (Mark Griffin)

The only backs not to score were full back Jake Newman, Ollie Lewis, and Tomos Davies. Newman was rock solid at the back, kicked very well out of hand and when he had the chance countered effectively. Centre Ollie Lewis created a number of chances with his dynamic running, while replacement centre Tomos Davies linked and ran beautifully when brought into the fray. 

With a further penalty try being added to Brecon’s total, there can be little doubt that coaches Dale McIntosh, Gavin Dacey and Owen Sheppeard will be looking for more of the same, but with no complacency, when Brecon travel to winless TATA Steel next Saturday. The clubhouse celebrations were further enhanced when the Athletic team posted an impressive 12 points to 5 victory over St Peters.