On a beautiful spring afternoon Brecon continued in their quest for promotion as they welcomed lowly placed Monmouth to Parc de Pugh.
Brecon 51 - Monmouth 15
Report by Ron Rowsell
With the pitch looking immaculate in the sunshine and with just a light wind both teams set out to make the most of the conditions by playing an expansive game.
For the most part they succeeded in producing an entertaining display with 11 tries scored during the afternoon.
Brecon emerged with the greatest credit as they claimed a try bonus-point win, defeating their opponents by 51 points to 15, and scoring eight tries in the process.
While, for some, the result was expected when looking at the relative league positions of the two sides, the simple statistics did not tell the full story. Monmouth posed a far greater threat than their league position suggested. While they have only won two games this season, they have saved their best performances for matches against the top-ranking teams.
In the reverse fixture, at Monmouth, Brecon claimed a bonus point victory, winning 33 points to 24 but the victory was hard earned and so, while Brecon were comfortably the favourites to win the match, the background suggested that victory would have to be earned.
Brecon started in very positive mood. With his first touch of the ball, centre Tom Richards showed how dangerous he can be with his pace and elusive running. His early break could have led to a try but a great tackle in midfield halted a threatening Richie Davies charge as the hit caused Richie to lose the ball in contact for perhaps the first time this season.
Further little errors prevented Brecon from posting a first score and in fact the first chance fell to Monmouth with a penalty attempt which sailed wide. Brecon’s response, to what could have been an early setback, was positive. Richie Davies won a great turnover at a breakdown and set up an attacking line out on the Monmouth 22. Captain Jake Crockett made the initial break and a great offload gave Tom Richards space. That was all he needed as he outflanked the cover to score in the corner.
Uncharacteristically Brecon were caught out off a long kick off and they conceded a scrum on their five-metre line. This early set piece set a pattern for the remainder of the game. The Brecon front five of Richie Davies, Jonathan Bowen, Iwan Dowling Jones, Sam Parry, Alwyn Lee and the bench of Josh Hamilton and Dewi Edwards, were instrumental in driving back their opponents and winning a penalty. From there Dion McIntosh cleared the lines with a long kick to touch and then added to Brecon’s score with a straightforward penalty.
From the kick off Dion Mcintosh kicked beautifully out of hand, as he did throughout the match, to put Brecon back on the offensive.
For some time, however, they failed to capitalise on their superiority. Ambitious passes were spilled and rare mistakes at the line-out, where otherwise Matthew Williams and Alwyn Lee were impressive, did not allow Brecon to build phases until John Bowen won a turn over penalty. McIntosh’s boot put Brecon in a good attacking position and from a scrum five metres out there could only be one outcome. Brecon drove the Monmouth pack back over the line and Logan McIntosh scored.
With accuracy now improving it was not long before Brecon posted their next score. Matthew Williams and Carl Blacker combined to win another turn over in a defensive position. Dion McIntosh kicked to the opponents 10-metre line and from there Brecon scored a great try. Going right Dion McIntosh delayed and pulled back a pass off his right hand to left wing Darran Harris. Harris split the midfield defence and with just one man to beat, unselfishly fed supporting full back Jake Crockett who scored near the posts. McIntosh converted.
Brecon finished the half in complete control, yet they failed to add to the score in spite of a couple of characteristic runs by Iwan Dowling Jones.
It was Dowling Jones and Alwyn Lee who again showed up well at the start of the second half but as Brecon looked to build on their lead and make certain of a try bonus point, Monmouth hit back. Brecon uncharacteristically dropped a straightforward catch and allowed Monmouth an attacking platform. They won a penalty and their lively scrum half took a quick tap and was over before Brecon could re-organise.
Brecon hit back straight away. Alwyn Lee stole a line-out but a pass went astray in midfield. Tom Richards responded quicker than anyone else, gathered the loose ball and sliced his way through the defence to score his second try to add to his hat-trick of the previous week.
Monmouth responded in the most remarkable fashion. Their outside half, aiming to kick left, sliced the ball right, off the outside of his boot. Two Brecon players stood and allowed the ball to bounce between them. That was a huge mistake. The ball bounced into the arms of a Monmouth player and he had an unopposed run in to the line. Brecon hit back immediately with a lovely try. Morgan Price switched play and Crockett took the inside ball to score a try which McIntosh converted.
Brecon then threatened for a period before finally scoring a great try. Brecon won a scrum on the right and some lovely hands across the back line gave Darran Harris an opportunity. His pace and power took him outside the defence for a sore in the corner. With Brecon now in complete control they earned a line out on the Monmouth five-metre line. A short throw to Sam Parry was won and Logan McIntosh dotted down from the heart of the driving maul. McIntosh again converted. But, as was the pattern of the half, Monmouth hit back. After a period of sustained pressure, they crossed for their third try before Brecon hit back with their eighth when Jon Bowen was the beneficiary of a carbon copy Sam Prosser short line-out and drive. McIntosh added the conversion to take Brecon’s total past the 50-point mark.
After two comfortable and emphatic wins Brecon’s next challenge will be a genuine test of the team’s resolve and determination to claim a promotion spot. They travel to face second placed Brynmawr. After the home game at Parc de Pugh ended as a 15 all draw, Brecon will be looking to make a much better start to the game than they did in the previous encounter.
That poor start left them chasing the game in the second half and they earned the draw but they cannot afford to do the same on Brynmawr’s home territory. There is certainly a buzz of excitement and anticipation as the club looks forward to one of the big tests of the season.