A CAPITAL DAY OUT FOR BONY, DESPITE THE RESULT
BONYMAEN’S big day at the Principality Stadium ended in heartbreak — but head coach Stuart Allen was still a proud man after they agonisingly went down 23-21 to Brecon.
A hat-trick from full-back and man-of-the-match Jake Crockett did the damage for Brecon as they held on despite a nervy finale to bag the WRU National Plate on Sunday afternoon.
Dean Gunter kicked eight points but Bony certainly played their part in a memorable occasion.
Nathan Eager and Jack Davies went over for tries, with Richard Cunniffe adding a conversion and three penalties as they launched a stunning comeback that ultimately fell just short.
“It was an incredible game, the boys really dug in,” said Allen.
“We’re obviously disappointed with the result but I think the day was more important anyway and I can’t take anything away from our boys.
“It was superb, and to see family, friends and everyone up at the stadium was unbelievable.”
Brecon were ahead with less than three minutes on the clock. Bonymaen didn’t deal with a loose ball following a kick and Crockett capitalised.
Gunter nailed the conversion and Brecon were dominant, with their scrum on top early on, though Gunter was unable to extend their lead with a penalty.
Bonymaen full-back Lawrence Thomas made one break and also failed with a monster penalty effort, but fly-half Cunniffe did succeed with a long-range kick.
Gunter made it 10-3 to Brecon with his first penalty of the afternoon following yet another scrum surge from the men in white and a second try soon arrived.
Gunter spotted space out wide and spread the ball left with a long pass.
Crockett was the beneficiary as he grabbed his second and although Gunter couldn’t convert, his team were 15-3 up.
Bonymaen were dealt a further blow before the break when lock Kim Kelly was yellow-carded for a deliberate knock-on, but it couldn’t stop Cunniffe from kicking a second penalty with the last kick of the first half.
It meant his team trailed 15-6 as they turned around.
Cunniffe chipped away at Brecon’s lead again at the start of the second half.
Still, he couldn’t stop Brecon as Crockett made it a hat-trick following fine approach work from outstanding No. 8 and captain Ewan Williams.
Bonymaen pulled one back through scrum-half Eager as he crossed off the back of a neat line-out move, and Cunniffe converted to give his team hope.
Both teams unloaded their benches in search of fresh legs and Gunter kicked a penalty at the start of the final quarter.
Bonymaen then kept the drama going with a try from Davies, and although the conversion was missed they were now within two points.
Gunter couldn’t settle Brecon nerves as he missed another penalty and Cunniffe then struck the post with a penalty that would have put Bonymaen ahead for the first time.
It was a lucky escape for Brecon, who then used their forwards to keep possession at the other end and hold out for victory.
Reflecting on the game, Allen said:
“They came out strong and we leaked an early try.
“I think they were a bit dominant in the pack in the first half, but second half I thought it was all us, if I’m honest. We scored some nice tries and left it all out there.
“We pride ourselves on physicality and just being a tough team, whether that be defence or attack.
“Today we’ve probably just come off second best in some of those areas but we went for it right at the end and we’ve given everything, against a good outfit as well, in fairness.
“All credit to Brecon, but I couldn’t be more proud of the boys.”
Despite the result, the run to the final will live long in the memory for Bonymaen in a season where they also finished as runners-up in One West Central.
The run in the Plate will also be remembered for their storming second-half comeback in the semi-final against Treorchy at Glynneath, where they rallied from 14-0 down at half-time to win 28-19.
That followed a narrow win at Aberystwyth and victories over Cilfynydd and Cambrian Welfare en route.
The challenge of One East champions-elect Brecon proved just one hurdle too far, but Allen still isn’t too downbeat.
Allen said: “If you’d said we’d finish second in the league from where we’ve come from and also play in the Principality Stadium in front of all these people, I’d have taken your hand off, regardless of the result today.
“The run has been superb and just getting here has been a massive buzz. First seeing everybody wishing us good luck up the club before we left, it was quite emotional, if I’m honest. Then to see everybody here was just incredible.
“This is the pinnacle. Seeing my mates — and that’s what they are — walking out on that pitch and giving it everything was such a proud moment.”
On to the hallowed turf... Bonymaen (in red and black) and Brecon players enter the playing arena before Sunday’s Plate final.
Nantgaredig’s Morgan Holmes is halted by Bynea tacklers in Saturday’s Three West B clash. Champions Nantgaredig won 24-22. Pictures: Phil Davies