Brecon failed to maintain their best form for the full 80 minute as they fell to defeat at Penallta at the weekend.
Penallta 27 - Brecon 22
Report by Ron Rowsell
The 27 points to 22 defeat allowed them to return home with a four-try bonus point and a second point for being within one score of their opponents, but that was merely some consolation in what was otherwise a disappointing result.
Fortunes in the game fluctuated enormously. Penallta started well. They looked to keep the ball in hand and to make the most of the fast surface.
Brecon’s defence was up to the task but they fell behind when one of Penallta’s stand out players, scrum half Lewis Stevens, kicked an early penalty.
During these early exchanges honours were even at both scrum and line out but with Penallta challenging aggressively at the breakdown they slowed Brecon’s ball down and won a number of penalties.
From one kick to the corner they almost scored as a pass from a front peel was just behind hooker Jonny Wright as he ran for the corner. This was not the only time that Wright featured as throughout his afternoon he was a thorn in Brecon’s side as he showed wonderful handling skills and the ability to break the first tackle. However, having survived this scare Brecon now grew into the game.
The back line started to look threatening and left wing Darran Harris was able to show what a dangerous runner he can be.
Penallta held out for a while until Brecon strung a long period of continuity together, switching the ball first left and then right. Centre Ollie Lewis and number 8 Logan McIntosh made ground before centre Eifion Jones threaded a kick through on the Penallta 22. The kick was weighted beautifully and as accomplished full back Laurence Pritchard tried to wait to shepherd the ball over the try line Jake Crockett dived in to touch down before his opposite number could act.
The score seemed to both dent Penallta’s confidence and spur on the Brecon 15 as they took control of the game. Opportunities came. First Darran Harris was held up over the line, then Richie Davies, who carried superbly throughout the match, crossed only to be brought back for a slight knock on.
Finally the pressure told as Davies again made headway in midfield and from the ruck the ball was moved swiftly left to give Harris a chance in the corner. In spite of the attention of his opposite number he scored and Brecon had a seven point lead and were looking to be in command with 30 minutes of the half gone. Brecon almost scored again when Crockett chased another kick through and with seven minutes of the half to go and Brecon dominating territory it looked likely that Brecon could close the half out with another try. In fact, during the last seven minutes, the game was turned on its head.
It all started with a Panallta scrum deep in their 22. Brecon drove the scrum backwards but Stevens cleared to centre Will Keep. He broke through a number of tackles and suddenly Penallta were on the front foot. They moved the ball wide and a lovely no-look pass from Pritchard put wing Alex Langworthy in space. He outflanked most of the cover and then kicked ahead only to be brought down late. Brecon incurred the obviously penalty and deservedly a yellow card. Penallta kicked to the corner and set up a line out drive. The depleted Brecon pack held but when the ball emerged Rhys Stephens sniped past the defence to score.
This was a disappointing score to give away but at the time it seemed a temporary setback to Brecon’s ambitions and nobody could have predicted what happened in the remaining minutes of the half.
From the kick off Brecon won a scrum near the home 22. For the first time Brecon’s scrum was driven back and Penallta won a penalty. They put the ball into touch on the Brecon 22. Brecon’s Matthew Williams almost stole the line out ball but just failed to hold it and the ball fell into the arms of Stevens who showed great pace to break around the tail of the line out and then stepped past two attempted tackles to score and convert.
The worst wasn’t over as from the kick off Brecon were penalised just outside the Penallta 22. Wright took a quick tap and it caught Brecon totally unprepared. The ball was moved wide and Pritchard made a break before kicking ahead allowing Stevens to win the race and score his third try within minutes a period of just five minutes. He also added the conversion as the half time whistle blew with Penallta now 12 points ahead.
As the second half started so the pressure on Brecon to score next was immense. To their credit they created a good try. Logan McIntosh won a turnover and then from a line out on the Penallta 10 metre line Brecon moved the ball into midfield where right wing Owen Morgan linked with full back Jake Crockett. Crockett broke through the defensive line and supplied to scoring pass to Darran Harris for his fifth try in just two games.
The score was just what Brecon needed to bring themselves back into contention but what happened next probably determined the outcome of the game. Brecon totally failed to take the kick off and were immediately penalised. To compound matters the referee also awarded a yellow card for trying to kill the ball on the ground. Penallta kicked for the corner and from the line out on 5 metres drove over to take their lead back up to 12 points.
After that se back a positive result was possible but if they were to win Brecon needed to be clinical. They promised with great carries from Iwan Dowling Jones, Richie Davies, Alwyn Lee, Logan McIntosh and wings Owen Morgan an Darran Harris but mistakes were made and took until the 75th minute for a score to come. Off a line out Brecon moved the ball into midfield and Ollie Lewis broke through a couple of tackles to score and Dion McIntosh converted.
Five points down and with three minutes remaining Brecon had one last chance. Owen Morgan broke into the Penallta half and the ball was moved into space on the left only for the final lobbed pass to be dropped under pressure.
The Penallta celebrations were understandably emotional while Brecon were left to lick their wounds and to prepare for the visit of second placed Brynmawr to Parc de Pugh on Friday, March 17. After this defeat that game takes on even greater significance.