Five-try Seasiders still in the hunt

Penarth Times: SUPERB TRY: Penarth centre Mike Gubb tears a hole in the Aberdare defence on his way to a superb individual try. Picture: Alun Roach. SUPERB TRY: Penarth centre Mike Gubb tears a hole in the Aberdare defence on his way to a superb individual try. Picture: Alun Roach.

ABERDARE 1st XV 26pts

PENARTH 1st XV 34

THE Seasiders would probably have fancied themselves for a win at 10th-placed Aberdare and the good news is that they managed it with a bonus point and retained their place in the pack chasing Cardiff Quins at the top of the table.

That’s all that counts really and the fact that Aberdare contributed four tries of their own and kept the result in doubt until close to the final whistle with rather fewer quality players than Penarth were able to field is one for the coaches to ponder.

To give Aberdare full credit, they knew they had to up their game and, for most of the first half, with wind advantage, they did just that, thundering into tackles and peppering James Candy with high balls. The Seasiders managed well and even went into the lead after 26 minutes with a James Docherty penalty as the host's consistent low-level infringing caught the attention of popular referee Elwyn Marfel-Jones.

However, Aberdare kept up the pressure and, five minutes from half-time, they went into the lead as their regular class act, full-back James Daniels, straightened beautifully on the Penarth 22 with his wing in support and went in for the try.

At this point Penarth woke up the fact that they could actually do something about this and laid siege to the Aberdare line. A string of infringements ensued, ending with a well-driven scrum which Mr Marfel-Jones allowed to continue until the home blindside dived in to stop the score, but conceded a penalty try, allowing the Seasiders to edge into a half-time lead.

The second half was shaping up to be a more satisfactory affair for Penarth as Scott Mackie drove over in the corner and, within minutes, Gary Power was over the line as well, with the ball clutched to his chest. He naturally found it hard to understand why Mr Marfel-Jones decided he’d been held up when the only Aberdare players in attendance were on top of him, but the ensuing scrum was accelerated over the line for a Mike Clare try and a 20-7 lead.

At which point Aberdare decided they’d had enough as well and came back with two tries in two minutes to cut the lead to a single point. First lively No 8 Anthony Watts (who’d been making a nuisance of himself throughout) found enough space to get up a head of steam and crash through the defence, and then a defensive mix-up on the left touchline allowed right wing Matthew Rafferty to skip in at the corner.

Luckily Penarth had an answer to this and a quick tapped penalty from Rhys Morgan on halfway allowed the scrum half to cut through to the line, where he popped up the scoring pass to Mike Hurley. Six minutes later, the Penarth pack shoved Aberdare off their own put-in and slick work by the half backs put Mike Gubb through a gap, and the inside centre showed the home defence a clean pair of heels for a spectacular individual score.

With the Seasiders leading 34-19, Aberdare needed to score three times and it was lucky that there wasn’t quite enough time for this as they came horribly close. First Watts went over a second time for a converted try and then, in the last move of the game, outside centre Kieran Thomas was clean through with his wing free on the outside, only to go for glory, get tackled and spill the ball.

The next league fixture for Penarth is away (kick-off 2.30pm) at league leaders Cardiff Quins on Saturday, December 28, and don’t forget the traditional Boxing Day fixture against Old Penarthians at the Athletic Field.

PENARTH: James Candy, Mike Hurley, James Thatcher, Mike Gubb, James Crothers, James Docherty, Rhys Morgan, Gary Power, Joe Page, Sean O’Sullivan, Stuart Clarke [Geraint Blake], Richard Ball, Scot Mackie, Mike Clare and Matt Sutton.

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