08 December 2019 / Team News

Brecon deserved winners

Brecon 23 Newcastle Emlyn 17

One of Emlyn’s aims this season was a reappearance in the Bowl final at the Principality Stadium in April. Unfortunatley for their aspirations they found themselves pitted against the holders Brecon who have similar aims for the season in being the first side to retain the trophy. Home advantage is probably worth ten points to any side at this stage of the competition and so it proved on Saturday with seven out of the eight ties played won by the home side. That Emlyn came within six points of their hosts possibly is not an accurate reflection of the match as Brecon were comfortably the better side. Their half backs Scott Gibson and Dean Gunter controlled proceedings throughout and varied their game to keep the Emlyn defence guessing.


The disappointing aspect for the large number of travelling fans who made the long journey to support their side had to be the number of errors made by the red and whites. Emlyn’s line out just did not function against a side who quite often did not really compete. Time and again possession was gifted to the home side and why the experienced Emlyn forwards persisted in throwing the ball to the tail of the line proved to be a mystery as the ball was either flapped back to no one or thrown over the top for Brecon to seize on. The three quarters were not absolved either as time and again the speed of their line defence was deemed too quick and ceded territory to Brecon.


Emlyn hardly touched the ball for the first twenty minutes and if they did their coaches probably wished they hadn’t. Three times they had a line out inside the Brecon half and on each occasion they gifted the ball to Brecon. Referee Ben Porte also ensured that all the early pressure was on the red and whites’ line as he continually penalised the Emlyn defensive line for the speed at which they moved up against their opponents. To their credit Brecon continually moved the ball along their three quarter line as they looked to stretch the Emlyn defence but found were unable to breach the Emlyn line.


Brecon outside half Dean Gunter opened the scoring with a penalty goal but it was his half back partner Scott Gibson who got the opening try with a fine individual effort. From a ruck some thirty metres out close to touch Gibson spotted an unguarded Emlyn blind side and sprinted round the ruck to run and score in the corner for a try well converted by Gunter. At this stage it was all Brecon with Gunter taking every opportunity to spread the ball and release his speedy three quarter line and it was a credit to the Emlyn defence that they did not concede any more points.


As the match approached the half hour mark Emlyn came more into the game and started to put together a series of rucks taking them up to the home sides’ twenty two area. Prominent with some powerful surges  were second row Osian Davies and back rowers Brynmor Jones and Elliot Rees. Eventually Brecon were penalised for killing the ball at a ruck and Shaun Leonard stepped up to take the penalty kick at goal. By his standards it was a relatively simple kick but the full back hit the post which summed up his and Emlyn’s day.


Emlyn had their tails up now and were starting to dominate at scrum time through their powerful front row of Emrys Davies, Alex Williams, and Dexter Thomas. A fine kick to the corner led to a scrum some five metres out for the red and whites from the Brecon line. Four times referee Porte penalised a retreating Brecon scrum for either standing up or wheeling the scrum, and four times Emlyn went for the pushover try only to be thwarted by the home sides’ tactics. On the fourth attempt Emlyn moved the ball infield and eventually centre Andrew Owens forced his way over for a try converted by Leonard on the stroke of half time.


The second half began disastrously for the red and whites. Looking to run the ball out of their own half Emlyn were turned over at the tackle situation and Gunter moved the ball along his back line for full back Jake Crockett to cross in the corner for a try which Gunter converted from the touchline.


The game now took on an all too familiar pattern with both sides running the ball at every opportunity but finding defences difficult to breach. Emlyn’s best opportunities seemed to be when the forwards carried close to the ruck. Time and again second row Osian Davies took the game to Brecon with some powerful carries. Replacement prop Lewys Jonathan had one telling run which with would have led to a score if the support could have got to him quicker.


However Emlyn continued to make mistakes and Brecon were quick to counter attack with loose head prop Richie Davies being to the fore when it came to punishing Emlyn mistakes with some powerful running. The prop probably carried the ball for more metres gained than anyone else on the field. Gunter extended Brecon’s lead with a penalty kick some thirteen minutes into the half and the visitors were fortunate that he missed with another couple of kicks at goal.


Half way through the half Leonard reduced the deficit with a penalty kick but Brecon replied almost immediately with another Gunter kick. With time running out Emlyn threw everything at the home defence. A mazy run by Leonard almost broke through for a try, Elliot Rees and Brynmor Jones were halted short of the line. Another potential opportunity was wasted when from a lineout five metres from the Brecon line yet another Emlyn throw went over the top allowing Brecon to clear their line.


Emlyn were not done for and showing remarkable resilience they laid siege to the Brecon line and after some desperate defending Emlyn prop Emrys Davies forced his way over for a try converted by Leonard to narrow the gap to six points. Unfortunately this proved to be the last play of the game and the final whistle was blown as soon as the conversion went over the bar.


Emlyn can now concentrate on the League and they return to League action this coming Saturday when they entertain Gorseinon. This is the first time since early October for the red and whites to play at home and one can only hope for an error free performance from a side who have not lost in the League yet.   



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