BRYNMAWR completed the double this season over league leaders Brecon to reduce their deficit in the title race.
It was the visitors who secured the away victory in atrocious conditions on Saturday at Parc de Pugh and despite still being in second place they now have two games in hand on Brecon.
The recent torrential weather experienced in Brecon over the last weeks has taken its toll on the playing surface and it is only down to the hard work of the groundsman Norman Williams and a few others that the game was able to be played.
With the early exchanges equal it was the home side who settled quickly, enjoying the majority of the early possession and despite the conditions they looked to move the ball through the hands. It was from a dropped ball in opposition territory which was hacked through and recovered by the visitors on the ground which caused the home side problems and ultimately lead to them being penalised for being off side.
The early part of the match illustrated that conditions were going to have a major impact on the rest of the game. Fortunately for the home side the kick was missed and the scores remained level.
It was after 21 minutes when the visitors put together their most concerted attack and after a number of controlled drives and phases they got into the home 22 and put Brecon’s defence under pressure and forcing the second penalty of the game. This time there was no mistake and the visitors opened the scoring through the boot of Langdon with an early penalty to make the score 3 – 0. From the restart Brecon got into the visitors 22 and began to mount pressure on the visitors’ line.
After a number of infringements from the visitors, one of Brynmawr’s back row was yellow carded.
The home side kicked to the corner, won the lineout and patiently retained possession and eventually looked to move the ball and an inside pass to Darren Witcomb who took on the defence and when tackled just short generated quick ball which created the space for Adam Hoskins to dive over and finish off a well worked try. The try was converted by Dean Gunter to give the home side a 7-3 lead.
Brynmawr competed and secured the ball from the kick off and again ensured they retained possession in the opposition territory and this eventually paid off when they were awarded a penalty on the 22 m line.
On 35 minutes it was the boot of Ebbw Vale stalwart Langdon that kept the visitors in touch, as he landed the second penalty and cut the home sides lead to one point with the score 7 – 6 at half time.
After failing to secure the restart Brecon found themselves immediately on the back foot in the second half. After some sustained pressure from the visitors, the referee awarded them a penalty for an offence at the scrum and Langdon then landed their third penalty to put the visitors 9-7 in front.
After a period of loose kicking from both sides it was the visitors who decided to chance their arm. After fielding the ball in centre field on half way Brynmawr chose to run at the home defence.
After a scything side step and break from the visitor’s centre Josh Congrieve and some slick inter passing between forwards and backs the visitors crossed for their first try under the posts which was converted by Langdon to take the score to 16 – 7.
The home side sought to keep in touch on the score board and immediately earned themselves a long-range penalty which given the under-foot conditions was superbly converted by Jake Davies - Newman narrowing the gap to six points with the visitors leading 16 – 10.
From the restart the home side secured the ball and looked to attack and offload in contact at which point the ball appeared to be knocked forward and with the referee seemingly indicating a knock on and advantage to the home side all seemed well.
However, closer inspection showed that the ball had gone forward initially from Brecon support runner before being knocked to the ground by the visitors, with the referee initially signalling the wrong way.
To their credit the visitors played to the whistle and secured the ball on the floor and then clinically took advantage of the static defence and the Brynmawr winger raced in from the 22 to score a try in the corner, the conversion from the touch line was missed to leave the score at 21-10.
Congratulations must go to both sides for putting on a fine display of competitive rugby in atrocious conditions and well done to Brynmawr for their victory and all the best for the rest of the season.
The test for the home side now will be to ensure that they bounce back quickly from this set back and get back to winning ways and keep the pressure on Brynmawr who have now taken a massive step and firmly installed themselves as favourites for the league title this season.