Seasiders battle leaders to a standstillPenarth 19 Cardiff Quins 27

Penarth 19 Cardiff Quins 27

HERE was a top-of-the-table struggle that had everything, except, perhaps, a Penarth win or even a losing bonus point. Which was a real disappointment as, by the middle of the second half, the swaggering league leaders had been cut down to size by a dominant home pack and the game really seemed to be going the right way.

It took Quins only three minutes to make their mark, as their scrum half won a race to the ball after a neat chip ahead, but the Seasiders came back strongly as a front five with Mike Clare registering his 300th appearance crushed the Quins pack and Louis Chandler came off the back of a ten-metre scrum to score the equalising try.

Unfortunately, the pattern of the match had been set and while the Seasiders held the upper hand in the tight, the visitors were always looking to move it wide and this brought them a further two tries before the half hour. The real problem was that there was clearly little between the teams and the league leaders were just better at taking their chances.

This didn't stop Penarth clawing their way back into the game immediately, as Quins fumbled the restart. The resulting scrum followed the prescribed pattern as the Seasiders drove clean through and were finally stopped five metres short. Awarded a penalty, they wisely chose to scrummage and Chandler was over for an easy second.

With the score at 12-19 at the start of the second half, the game was certainly there for the taking and with both half-backs nursing injuries, their replacement only served to improve matters. Having dominated the opening 15 minutes without registering a score the only concern was that Quins might sneak a score and this is exactly what they did with a spectacular break-out score against the pattern of play.

In spite of this significant set-back, the momentum certainly stayed with the Seasiders as they struck back with a huge solo break from lock Stuart Clarke. No momentum was lost at the breakdown five metres short of the line and Gareth Matthias was on hand to wriggle through several tackles on the fringe of the ruck to score his side's third try of the afternoon.

After the conversion, the score sat at a tantalising 19-24 with the visitors pressing hard until five minutes from time when their outside half pinged over a drop goal to make the game safe. There really was little distance between the sides and the game really could have gone either way, but the Quins had a certain arrogance about them that ultimately saw them through.

Next up at the Athletic Field are old rivals Fairwater, fresh from a 14-7 victory over 11th-placed Brecon which raised them to 7th position on Division 3 (SE). The Seasiders are in a good position to reverse their defeat against the Cardiff club in the opening game of the season where a last-minute score denied them victory in a match they'd dominated.

Squad: Rhys Morgan, James Candy, James Thatcher, Mike Gubb, Mike Hurley, Nathan Smith (Grant Robson), Chris Mortimer (Gareth Matthias), Richard Merrett (Jerome Bryan), Joe Page, Gary Power, Mike Clare, Stuart Clarke, Scot Mackie, Louis Chandler, Matt Sutton.

*National League Division 3 (SE) on Saturday, January 4. Penarth v Fairwater at the Athletic Field, Lavernock Road, Kick-off 2.30pm.

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