Brecon’s Championship Cup dream ended abruptly as they were outplayed by East Division rivals, Bedwas, losing the quarter-final clash by 36 points to 17.
BEDWAS 36 – BRECON 17
WRU CHAMPIONSHIP CUP
REPORT BY RON ROWSELL
As a change from recent performances, it was Brecon who started the better of the two teams. In the first 10 minutes they pressurised the home team and deservedly scored the first try. The move started when Geraint Powell leapt high to claim a line-out off an opposition throw in. The pack set up a maul which was stopped illegally and from the penalty Brecon had a line=out in the home 22. Forwards, Logan McIntosh, Osian Davies and Owain James made ground before some slick handling across the backs gave wing Sam Jones some space. He took his opportunity, scoring a try in the corner and Dion McIntosh extended the lead to seven points with an excellent conversion.
At this early stage Brecon looked sharp and clinical and in spite of the fact that they faced a side on a six-match winning run and on their home turf, early indications suggested that Brecon could build on this early lead.
That early assessment was, however, rather too hastily made. All too soon Bedwas drew level after a period of play which became all too familiar as the game progressed. Brecon gave away an unnecessary penalty on half way and Bedwas kicked to touch on the Brecon 22. At the line-out Brecon gave away another penalty and Brecon were forced to defend on their five-metre line. The Bedwas pack drove and rolled, exposing the Brecon line and they scored a try which was converted.
There was no doubt that Brecon gave Bedwas the opportunity and, as any good side would do, they took it. Brecon should have learned from that set back and yet on two further occasions during the first half they made mistakes and were punished in similar fashion.
That first score may just have appeared to be a blip, particularly when Brecon restored their lead with an outstanding try. The build up was interesting and clinical. A Carl Blacker kick and good chase forced a knock on at half way. Quick ball from the scrum was moved left to wing Ryan Davies who brilliantly cut inside his opposite number, then showed great pace on the outside to draw the cover before he fed supporting flanker, Osian Davies, on the inside. His run, dive and slide took him to the try line and again McIntosh converted.
Having restored their lead Brecon needed to play the game in the Bedwas half and avoid penalties. They failed to do either. With ball in hand, on half way, they decided to chip over the defence rather than keep the ball in hand or to simply kick for the corner. The chip was gathered easily and although a tackle was made a penalty was given away at the breakdown. Bedwas took a quick tap and Brecon were penalised again at the breakdown. From there everyone knew what would happen. They won a line-out deep in the Brecon 22, set a maul and for a second time drove over to level the scores with a converted try.
Again, Brecon restored their lead. After a powerful Osian Davies run led to a penalty in the Bedwas 22, Dion McIntosh was accurate with his boot. Now was the time to recognise that the game needed to be played in opposition territory and giving away penalties anywhere in their own half would prove costly. To some extent they did this but were undone when committed to an attack. With full back Jake Newman up in the line Bedwas intercepted on their 22. Deep into the Brecon half the attacker was caught from behind by Sam Jones but his tackle was deemed to be high and Bedwas were awarded a penalty. From there the tale was all too familiar. Bedwas kicked for the corner, won the line-out set up a maul which rolled towards the Brecon line and they scored a converted try.
As half-time approached Brecon almost restored their advantage. Some lovely hands gave wing Sam Jones just a sniff of an opportunity. He almost took it. He beat two defenders only to be brought down by a third just short of the line and as the ball bounced out of his grasp so the whistle went for half-time.
Brecon were well in the game as the second half started but they immediately conceded a fourth try. An unnecessary penalty was given away on the half way line and from a quick tap Brecon were caught unprepared. Bedwas moved the ball wide and Brecon’s defence was caught too narrow, allowing the home winger to score in the corner.
Brecon worked hard in an attempt to hit back but when they won a line-out deep in the Bedwas 22 their driving maul did not have the same devastating effect as their opponents’. Then, coughing up another penalty just inside their half allowed Bedwas the opportunity to successfully kick for goal and to extend their lead to 12 points.
Again Brecon threw everything into attack but now the Bedwas defence proved to be far more effective and although Brecon occasionally got close they could not breach the defence, yet when Bedwas had a chance they took it. A dropped ball then led to a penalty on the Brecon 22 and again a quick tap caught Brecon unprepared. Bedwas scored their fifth try which was converted.
With the gap now 19 points the game seemed to be won by the home side. Brecon battled hard for the remainder of the game, much of which was played in Bedwas territory but attack after attack floundered in the face of the well organised defence and excellent kicking game of the home side.
At the final whistle Brecon had to accept that they had been well beaten by a well-balanced Bedwas side. However, they will have to look at their mistakes as they prepare for an away game at league leaders, Narberth, next Saturday. They cannot afford to allow opponents opportunities to get within striking distance by giving away penalties and they have to find a way of exerting pressure by clinically winning territory, and putting together multiple phases in their opponents' half, rather than allowing their opponents an easy way out and inviting pressure on themselves.