Points away as Penarth lose the plot
8:02am Friday 13th September 2013 in Sport
HERE we go again! Rather than collecting three solid championship points for a 28-23 win, which Penarth Rugby Club 1st XV had within its grasp with less than two minutes to go, the Seasiders ended up with a bonus point only, rewarding a gallant, though inadequate effort, as they lost both the plot and the match against a young and spirited Fairwater side.
Penarth will rue the missed opportunities as the quality of the opposition in this league has gone up considerably in the past few seasons and every match will test the Seasiders to the limit.
It became obvious from the early exchanges that Penarth had to keep it tight to deny the alert Fairwater backs too many opportunities. Having said that, one felt that, given the overwhelming dominance up front of Gary Power and his fellow Penarth tight five, the defeat in the dying seconds of the game was a clear case of miscarriage of justice.
There is little doubt that Penarth could have won; bar a string of unforced errors, peppered with missed tackles and a few aimless kicks. It is also quite clear that the Seasiders are short of match practice, and many of the shortcomings visible on Saturday will gradually subside and eventually disappear. But, at Fairwater, they were all noticeable and contributed in various degrees to a difficult to swallow defeat.
Among the forwards Stuart Clarke, Chris Mortimer, Scott Macky and Geraint “Trevor” Blake, making a return after a two-year break, played their hearts out, while Mike Hurley and James Thatchel, until he got injured, stood out among the backs. An abrasive and committed Gareth Clancy was the first Penarth try scorer, while Mike Clare scored another try to lift his club record total to 130. Hurley was the third Penarth try scorer, and his own conversion raised his match tally to an impressive total of 18 points. He was, without doubt, the Penarth “man of the match” and one looks forward to his flourishing partnership with the skilful Thatchel.
Closely-fought encounters like this tend to emphasise the limitations of the man with the whistle, though, as some pointed out afterwards, this one was not going to be the worst official Penarth are likely to encounter this season. It is a fact of life that the standard of play in the Third Division is higher than the quality of the appointed match officials.This is something Penarth and its various opponents have learned to live with for the past few years. The brief foray into the Second Division three years ago has exposed Penarth to a higher standard of refereeing, which was an eye-opener for most players and this alone should be a strong incentive for promotion this year.
However, there was something uncanny in the way the referee handled Saturday’s encounter, obviously tormented by the scrum’s new intricate legalities. It was quite clear from the outset that his main areas of interest were the scrum, followed by the scrum again and the breakdown in this order, which he handled satisfactorily. The rest were unjustifiably ignored, with the line-out a shambles and the offside rarely policed, not to mention the frequent knock-ons or forward passes, which he ignored. This had a negative effect on Penarth and the type of game they practised, which was based very much on possession and structured forward play. But it would be wrong to blame the referee for the two-point defeat. It was a match Penarth managed to lose or,as one cynical Seasider put it, a case of Penarth “snatching defeat from the jaws of victory."
Penarth: J Candy, D Ruell, J Thatchel, M Hurley, J Crothers, J Docherty, G Clancy, S Macky (M Clare) C Mortimer, G Blake, S Clarke, R Ball, S O’Sullivan (J Page) G Power (capt) and R Merrett.