As with any new season, there was a high level of excitement and anticipation as people descended onto Parc de Pugh in the glorious late summer sunshine.
The aforementioned emotions were perhaps heightened by the fact that the latest League Campaign for the Senior Team, has seen them elevated to the lofty heights of the league structure as they now ply their trade in the Championship West.
This brings an element of the unknown in that the Club, across its lengthy history, has now ascended to its highest point in the Community Game in Wales, and also the fact that the geographical focus has now moved away from the traditional stomping grounds of the Gwent and Glamorgan Valleys, to the previously unexplored areas of West Wales.
Notwithstanding the uncertainty of what the new experiences would bring in terms of challenges, the mood was positive as there was an awareness of where the Senior Squad has arrived at, with players flourishing under the expert guidance of Director of Rugby Dale Mackintosh, and his quality management group.
The opportunity to achieve levels of technical improvement and excellence under their mentoring has seen the playing group buy in to the ethic of working hard, and the pre-season training has been characterised by its intensity, and also full commitment of the players to absorb the advice given.
As the Club has risen through the league structure, there has been a focus on ensuring that any necessary recruitment has added playing depth where necessary, but also the right character to ensure the squad buys in to the Brecon ethos as espoused by the Club officers and supporters, and the rugby management group.
The return in recent seasons of the likes of Lewis Smout, Alwyn Lee, and Darran Harris, to their local club after having enjoyed success at higher levels, has been continued with the arrival home of Osian Davies, following his recent notable efforts in the Premiership.
Players have also been brought in to cover areas where more depth is required, whilst the flow of players from the successful Youth, Minis, and Junior sections has seen players step up to the mark over recent seasons.
In this regard, it was particularly pleasing to see Ryan Luker make his Senior debut off the bench, having worked hard with the Youth and Athletic teams over the last season, and also committing to the training demands and expectations of the Club.
The visitors to Brecon on the opening day of the season were Castell Newydd Emlyn, who swapped their normal location of playing at Dol Wiber on the banks of the Teifi (the border between the counties of Sir Gar and Ceredigion) to the banks of the Usk.
CNE are a proud club with a recent record of success in the leagues and also Cup competitions, including previous experience in the Championship.
They are also a club with a impressive record of producing quality players who have been successful at the Regional and National level, so the home squad were under no illusion of the nature of the stiff task that lay ahead.
Given the improving weather, and the continued efforts of Norman Williams in tending to the playing surface, Parc de Pugh was looking pristine as both teams took to the field with the visitors defending the town end in the first half.
The initial quarter of the game saw Brecon enjoy some ascendancy in terms of possession and territory, although, notwithstanding the initial score by fly half Jake Newman, which he also converted, Brecon did struggle to get consistent continuity in their game.
There were occasions where Jake Newman was able to use his range of passing to change the point of attach, and some of the offloading was outstanding, but the initial period had that early season element of blowing the cobwebs away.
The passages of play that the home team were able to piece together did gain notable inroads into the visiting defence, and both forwards and backs were prominent with the ball in hand.
Further scores came after some well executed phase play and resulted in the outstanding Osian Davies, and the ever improving second row, Ben Pritchard, crashing over for well deserved scores.
Jake Newman added the extras for one of them and Brecon approached half time with 19 points on the scoreboard.
The visitors from West Wales had not been quiet in this time and, notwithstanding the fact that Brecon enjoyed the territorial battle for large parts, they showed themselves to be a capable, well coached unit, who were always seeking to vary their methods and lines of attach.
They were also very dynamic at the breakdown, and were slightly ahead of the hosts in terms of their transitional play when they gained possession.
They fought strongly for well deserved scores of their own, and the half time whistle came with Brecon leading 19-15.
The focus, at the half time break, for the home coaching unit would have been on the need to be more clinical in the chances that arose, as the scoreboard did not reflect the possession and territorial numbers.
Brecon had been very strong at scrum time, with the front row of Lewis Smout, Aneurin James, and Andy Nicholl proving dominant from the start.
The ubiquitous Richie Davies came on and had a strong 65 minute covering both sides of the scrum.
Jonny Bowen also added some value in terms of lineout delivery and this was a phase of play that, despite seeming to be slightly out in terms of timing (understandable given the early season rust) improved as the game wore on.
Vice captain Alwyn Lee had his usual influential impact on all aspects of the game, and he provided an experienced balance to the youthful Ben Pritchard in the second row.
The back row also made significant contributions, with No8 Logan McIntosh looking to use all opportunities to take the ball to the defensive line, whilst Osian Davies was a constant and impressive contributor in both defence and attack.
Alongside them, Matthew Williams continues to grow in confidence in these early stages of his senior career, and with the new tackle laws being introduced this season, for reason of player safety, his ability and willingness, to tackle low, along with Osian was a major factor in providing turnover opportunities.
The message for the second half would have been to cut out unenforced errors and to ensure that the dominance in terms of territory was appropriately reflected on the scoreboard.
To a large degree, that was how the second half played out in the early phases, with a strong run by the powerful Kristian Dacey took the home team beyond the gain line. Swift recycling and some good hands in the offload from Jake Newman, saw Alwyn Lee crash over for the first score of the second period.
Kristian had formed an impressive midfield partnership with Tomos Davies, with their respective individual strengths complementing each other well.
They were influential in how the Brecon attack evolved in the second half, and were prominent in some of the more notable phases.
Olly Lewis was not to be outdone in this regard, and he was prominent in the time he was on the field with his lines of running, and offloading, bringing others in to the game off him.
It was Kristian who was again to the fore for the next Brecon score as he ran strongly before being held up before the line.
From the ensuing recycled ball, scrum half Geraint Workman spotted a gap and wriggled over from close range under the posts.
Geraint enjoyed one his stronger games of recent times in a Brecon shirt and, in addition to his score, he kicked well in defence and attack. The defence of the home team was challenged on a regular basis in the second half, with one particular extended period of play seeing the men from the west continually hammering away at the home team try line.
The defensive shift in this phase was excellent, and will afford the coaching unit as much pleasure as any carefully crafted score in terms of the spirit and resilience shown.
The Brecon defensive line was breached in the second half when some tired bodies were unable to make the initial hit which allowed the very mobile CNE replacement prop to gallop in from 60 yards for a brilliant individual try.
As the half wore on the, the game did ebb and flow, as the visiting team showed great resolve in continuing to attack the home team when they had the ball in hand.
The back three of Brecon, Geraint Walsh, Sam Jones and Jake Crockett, all had busy games in both defence and attack and, when afforded opportunities with ball in hand, they were able to make positive yardage.
Ben Griffin also showed great willingness with the ball in hand to take on the visiting defence.
The game started to slow down as both teams became fatigued in the heat, and the final Brecon score was of a more straightforward variety, as a line out secured on the visiting 22 saw a dynamic driving maul be set up where the Brecon pack drove forward at a rate of knots until hooker Aneurin James finally crashed over.
The final score saw Brecon clinch an important home victory in the first outing in the new League.
The win was highly encouraging although the players and coaches will be aware of the need for continuous improvement if they are to enjoy success on the field.
It has been a long held mantra that, in Welsh rugby, the game to the East of the country tended to be a more attritional type of rugby whereas the rugby played down west tended to be more open.
Whilst this is a simplistic generalization of things, the experience of this game, and other recent outings against teams from the region, has highlighted that they do tend to dynamically contest the ruck ball, in search of quick turnovers.
Brecon are by no means weak in this regard, but it has highlighted that focus on that speed of ball at the breakdown, particularly as the Club look to enjoy outings to come against other great clubs like CNE.
The CNE players and supporters were great ambassadors for their club, and the home team and support will be looking forward keenly to a return trip to another beautiful part of Wales.
Whilst a 40-22 (bonus point) victory, in the first game at this level, would have been welcomed prior to kick off, an interesting and positive fact was the talk of the ‘work ons’ after the game.
This shows a dedication to improvement to remain competitive, and augurs well for the future with the current efforts of all involved.
The need to be clinical was uppermost as the home team did create opportunity in open play, but they realise that they need to convert these in to results on the score board.
This will be allied to the need for attention to detail at the set piece.
The players are also coming to terms with the tackle law interpretation, and this will be a common theme for all teams throughout this season.
On the point of interpretation of the law, the game was finely marshalled by referee, Marcus Caudle from Llantwit Fardre.
Referees are also under a certain degree of pressure to deliver on the new, and welcomed, mandate with a focus on player safety, and Marcus showed great empathy, and good communicating skills, as he led the teams through the challenges faced.