ST PETERS RFC 1st XV 46pts
PENARTH RFC 1st XV 29
THAT'S it for 2013/14 and, despite another losing score, Penarth Rugby Club finish the season with good reason to look forward with optimism.
Yet again, in this protracted end of season, injuries and unavailability dictated a makeshift look to the side. But, with the help of a couple of old campaigners, the young Penarth bloods coming through from the youth system did not look out of place at the higher level. In fact, this contest could have gone the other way had it not been for technical deficiencies such as a failure to secure high kicks and tackling too high which the coaches will need to work on.
St Peters made the early running, Penarth’s re-jigged back row and young half back pairing needing time to settle. So, despite Paul Collett breaking out, with Joe Page using the freedom of flanker to support and feed Tom Hillman on the wing, surrendered possession at the breakdown, plus a weak tackle, allowed the home side to open the scoring.
Penarth hit straight back. Following a searching kick by Kieran Carpenter, pressure on the home full back forced a panicked lateral clearance. Although the line out was not secured, pressure was maintained and the back row union worked hard to gain the touchdown. Honours were even again.
St Peters though are a slick outfit and play skilled 15-man rugby. So their response was to abandon running wide and concentrate on short burst forward work in which they were assisted by a series of decisions that went against the defence. Having got all the territorial gain they required, they were able to exploit some further weak tackling to score under the posts.
Immediately, and with Penarth still in some disarray, the move was repeated so that, on 20 minutes, the home advantage stretched to an ominous 21-7.
However, Penarth were showing signs of settling together. In the pack, the front row were holding, with Sean O’Sullivan supporting Mason Good at hooker and Jerome Bryan showing what he offers in addition to propping in putting in a series of effective carries. At half back Paul Beddis and Kieran Carpenter gelled and this allowed established centres Mike Hurley and James Thatcher to create some telling breaks from midfield as well as giving Hillman some space to work on.
So it was Penarth on the scoreboard next through a penalty after firstly a home attack was foiled by spectacular tackling back from the indefatigable Bryan and subsequently taking advantage of a bizarre home back pass that cleared not only the defence but also the dead ball line.
Again St Peters hit back, collecting spilled ball and running it out wide but this time it was Penarth not allowing their opponents time to enjoy the moment. The restart was collected, worked upfield by Thatcher and Hurley, taken on by the back row and released to James Crothers on the wing. Within five minutes, the dose was repeated. From a good attacking position, Carpenter made the half break and found Crothers, who had drifted in-field looking for work, on hand for his second try.
With half-time approaching, Penarth had got themselves back within four points. Sadly, they didn’t hang on and surrendered possession to stretch the half time score to 31-22.
The second half started with club chairman Mike Clare taking a compulsory 10-minute break from his shift in the second row and an eight-point advantage accrued in his absence.
A long active but scoreless period followed. Both sides were competing well, with noticeable scrum pressure from Penarth. Joe Page was denied after one of his power breaks and St Peters touched down, only to be brought back by the touch judge.
Andy Pyman and Connor Cavanagh came and Bryan confirmed his versatility, switching to back row, and Hillman came in to scrum half from wing.
Adjusting seamlessly to these changes, Penarth produced a little gem. Thatcher set off from midway, leaving a series of defenders grabbing at fresh air; support at pace came from Hurley whose score earned a useful bonus point.
With home coach Mark Ring sensing real danger and exhorting his troops from the sidelines, they managed a further score to put a result beyond Penarth’s grasp but the young guns had more than demonstrated their capability to challenge for places next season.
Penarth: Sean O’Sullivan, Mason Good, Jerome Bryan, Mike Clare, Richard Howells, Louis Chandler, Joe Page, Luke Crocket, Paul Beddis, Kieran Carpenter, James Crothers, Mike Hurley, James Thatcher and Tom Hillman. Replacements: Andy Pyman and Connor Kavanagh.