Llanelli Star - - LOCAL RUGBY -

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

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