No lack of effort as Penarth ground out win

MAZY RUN: Supported by the returning Rhys Lakin, Penarth centre James Thatcher sets off on another mazy run. Picture: Alun Roach.

HAND OFF: Penarth wing James Crothers demonstrates that pace is fine, but a hand off on Brecon's Gwyn Pengelly certainly helps. Picture: Alun Roach.

SPEEDSTER: Penarth's Paul Collett shows a clean pair of heels yet again as he rounds the Brecon defence. Picture: Alun Roach.

First published in Sport

PENARTH RFC 1st XV 13pts

BRECON 12

THERE was a lot going on at the Athletic Field for an hour and a half on Saturday afternoon. Two packs heaved and strained, two sets of backs ran and passed but, truth to tell, not much resulted from all this effort.

This is illustrated by the scores; all of them resulted from the trusty boots of Brecon’s Gari Davies and Penarth’s James Docherty, plus one from referee Gareth Rees who, tired of Brecon’s interpretation of the laws of the ruck, awarded a penalty try.

All this is not to deny individual flashes of what could have been. Brecon scrum half Gwyn Pengelly is a true livewire and very difficult to bring down. On the Penarth side, there was a welcome return to the colours for Rhys Lakin who reminded us what a sound and reliable contributor he is. In the pack, Stuart Clarke was a constant catalyst, putting in the hard graft and cajoling others in turn.

But much of this effort never came to fruition. Both defences were generally solid and, when cracks appeared, the last pass went astray, there was a little knock on or, in the case of Penarth speedster Paul Collett, he found himself isolated from support that could have given a positive outcome. Add to this a lack of pattern to the play, with both sides enjoying dominance at periods and in aspects of play but not sustaining it to produce a score.

Points were accumulated mainly in the first 40 minutes. Penarth had the benefit of the breeze but went down to the first of many penalties awarded both ways for misdemeanours at the breakdown. The score was soon level as Docherty, having pinged off the post with his first penalty attempt, put the second from the same spot straight and true. However, Pengelly restored Brecon’s advantage, his mazy running deceiving would be tacklers until brought down and held illegally.

By this time the home front row was causing their opponents quite a bit of distress. Firstly, the hugely experienced Richard Merrett imposed an enforced recovery break on the Brecon tight head. Then a repeat scrum demolition job was followed by a long instructional to the front six from referee Rees.

Penarth ascendancy up front started to give the backs more space and James Thatcher was able to give us a glimpse of what a good footballer he can be. From his hard, fast break confusion was sown deep in the visitors’ defence and this, plus Clarke securing the lines out that followed, was what led to the Penarth penalty try.

Further problems for Brecon followed as their second row Danny Howe was shown yellow for coming in around the ruck. Docherty took a further three points for this. There was only time for a little session of ‘handbags’ up front and another lecture from Mr Rees before Penarth took in a half time lead of 13-9.

And that was almost that as the second period was a strangely flat and featureless affair.

Jon Boland was replaced by Richard Ball who straight away took the responsibility for line out jumping. Brecon were restored to full strength in the scrum and, inexplicably, became dominant where they had previously struggled. Then Thatcher was yellow carded for offside and the Brecon score advanced to 12 with half an hour to go.

Thenceforth, a score for either side looked unlikely. Chris Mortimer replaced Rhys Morgan at scrum half and Matt Sutton left the back row for Mike Gubb who celebrated with a tooth-loosening tackle on Brecon outside half Newman.

The general stalemate was extended by a full 12 minutes added on but even this didn’t allow the home side to put the game out of reach or the visitors to snatch the points.

The positive summary for Penarth - ‘a win is a win.’

The next home game is against Tylorstown on Saturday, March 1.

Penarth: Rhys Lakin; Paul Collett; James Thatcher; Michael Hurley; James Crothers; James Docherty; Rhys Morgan (Chris Mortimer); Richard Merrett (capt); Joe Page; Gary Power; Stuart Clarke; Jon Boland (Richard Ball); Geraint Blake; Mike Clare; Matt Sutton (Mike Gubb).

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