PENARTH RFC 1st XV 29pts


CONDITIONS were excellent for Saturday's National League Division 3 (SE) game at the Athletic Field, with a slight breeze and a dry pitch the only problems.

Except, that is, that Tylorstown turned up with only 15 players and advised referee James Tucker that they had no hooker and would need to play passive scrums from the kick-off. This would naturally neutralise Penarth’s expected scrummaging superiority and massively affect the way in which Penarth would approach the game.

Not that you’d notice. The Seasiders kicked off from the Robinswood end and forced a line-out close to the visitors’ 22. A clean take led directly to a driving maul with the inevitable result of Mike Clare crossing for the game’s opening try after some four minutes. However, Tylorstown were able to work their way into the Penarth 22 from the restart and pulled back three points from a penalty converted by No 10 Aaron Clements.

The Seasiders were penalised at a ruck and then caught napping as a quick tap saw Tylorstown outside centre Mike Melhuish race to the line for an unconverted try to take his side into the lead.

With half-time approaching, Penarth found themselves back in the driving seat, with another maul seeing Clare to the fore for his second try.

The teams turned round with the Seasiders holding a precarious 10-8 lead and the second half turned out to be a touch more lively as the hosts replaced captain Richard Merrett and tight-head Sean Sullivan with Gary Power and Jerome Bryan. Wing Ben Donovan also came on to replace James Crothers.

Tylorstown were soon penalised on their own 10 metres line and James Docherty found touch deep in the visitors’ 22. From the resultant line out, the Penarth pack drove for the line, with Joe Page touching down and the Docherty conversion extending the lead to 17-8.

Straight from the restart, the Seasiders worked their way smartly upfield, with the back division working like a well-drilled unit with some excellent distribution from scrum half to wing. James Thatcher made all this count with a great try to push the lead out to 24-8.

With the game rapidly disappearing over the horizon for Tylorstown, yet another opportunity dropped into Penarth’s hands when the forwards gained a scrum eight metres from the line. Clare made the initial break and released to Rhys Lakin who ghosted through the visitors' defence to register his side’s fifth try and a 29-8 lead.

The visitors were not to be denied when, in the dying minutes, they gained possession and worked the ball out to speedy left wing Andrew Thomas, who scored in the corner.

The bonus point win finally takes Penarth past Pontyclun (defeated 20-16 by Gwernyfed) and up to third place in the league.

Again Stuart Clarke showed excellent technique in the line-out, but the game was in some ways spoilt by the passive scrums and these certainly kept Tylorstown in the game.

Interestingly, runaway leaders Cardiff Quins suffered a rare defeat going down 20-8 at Fairwater, leaving the Seasiders a mere 13 points adrift.

PENARTH: Mike Hurley, Paul Collett, James Thatcher, Rhys Lakin, James Crothers (Ben Donovan), Chris Mortimer, Richard Merrett (Gary Power), Joe Page, Sean O’Sullivan, Stuart Clarke, Jon Boland (Richard Ball), Geraint Blake and Matt Sutton.

Penarth are next in action when they visit Porth Harlequins on Saturday, March 22; kick-off 2.30pm.