Seasiders are work in progress
12:03pm Wednesday 2nd October 2013 in Sport
BREAK OUT: With suitable encouragement from colleague Scot Mackie, Penarth's Joe Page breaks the line against St Peters. Picture: Alun Roach.
PENARTH 1st XV 19pts
ST PETERS 34
A SETTLED Penarth team faced old Cardiff rivals St Peters at the Athletic Field last Saturday with some confidence after an impressive away win against Gwernyfed.
The trouble was that the Rocks were at their streetwise best and won a game that was far closer than the scoreline suggests.
There were various factors in play here and, while visiting outside-half Jon Morris claimed a personal tally of 24 points, the real key to the game was how the St Peters back row neutralised, or were allowed to neutralise, the Seasiders’ midfield.
Not only was there little cohesion in the back play, but a lot of the Rocks’ possession came from sloppy kicking out of hand and this came down to the pressure exerted by the visiting flankers.
St Peters opted for a high-speed, high-pressure game and three penalties from Morris pushed them into a 3-9 lead after only 16 minutes, but the Seasiders piled on the pressure, winning a series of penalties in the opposition 22, although, crucially, without reward.
Former Penarth No 8 Rob O’Brien earned a yellow card on the half-hour and Penarth finally got over the whitewash. The home backs found space in midfield and Joe Page drove to the line before being tackled. Matt Sutton picked up and headed right before delivering a defence-splitting pass back left where Page put James Candy in at the corner.
At this point, two things happened, one of which was going to affect the course of the game significantly. First James Beaton received a yellow card, reducing the Seasiders to 14 players, and then Morris converted the penalty to put his side 8-12 in the lead. In the final 10 minutes of the half, the roof fell in on the Seasiders’ ambitions.
The Rocks scored two tries in swift succession from Morris and the returning O’Brien and, although Penarth pulled one back themselves on the stroke of half-time as Scott Mackie went over from a driven scrum, the score had moved on from 8-9 to 13-26 in nine minutes and the visitors were in the clear.
Of course, the wind advantage the Rocks had enjoyed for the opening 40 minutes had disappeared by the time the teams had turned around. Mike Hurley reduced the arrears with an early penalty, but Morris cancelled this out 10 minutes later. St Peters put the matter beyond doubt with a second O’Brien try with 13 minutes to go and a late Hurley penalty was little consolation.
The 2-3 try count emphasises the closeness of the contest and the difference between the sides was technically down to the visitors’ preference for kicking penalties, compared to the Seasiders’ inclination to go for tries. A trip to bottom-of-the-table Brecon next Saturday (kick-off 2.30pm) will, hopefully, provide some lighter relief.
Penarth: James Candy, Ben Donovan, Mike Hurley, Michael Gubb, James Crothers, James Thatcher, Rhys Morgan (Chris Mortimer), Richard Merrettt, Joe Page, Sean O’Sullivan (David Morgan), Richard Ball (Geraint Blake), Jon Boland, Scot Mackie, Matt Sutton (Mike Clare).
Cardiff Quins, with 19 points from the opening four games, are the early pacesetters in League Division 3 South-East, with Penarth (10 points), after two wins and two defeats, lying sixth.