Barry RFC 32 - Penarth RFC 12

THERE is perhaps no coincidence that both Aberdare and Barry, the Penarth opponents in round one and two respectively of Division Two East Central of the 2017-18 season are top of the table with ten points each after two rounds, while pointless Penarth struggle at bottom of the 12-team pyramid. For about a season Penarth, blowing hot and cold, has been work in progress, with the team battling to achieve the degree of consistency and reliability that should have enabled it to navigate towards the higher echelons of the table. Although Penarth lost 32-12 to a well-drilled Barry side, a virtually identical score to last year’s home game (lost 32-8), there is very little doubt that the team coached by Matt Bolton has been making incremental progress.

One should not forget that last season Barry finished third in the league after the promoted Dinas Powys and Llantrisant, with Penarth very much in the relegation zone in the eighth position, a repeat of the previous seasons finish. The loss of the trio Alex Thau, Gareth Mathias and Morgan Smith to injury in the opening match against Aberdare, has had a significant impact on team composure and physicality and should not be underestimated. During the past season head-coach Matt Bolton has been struggling to inject an element of confidence and discipline into this youthful side and to a large extent has succeeded, though quite often the team tends to buckle under pressure of more physical and intimidating opponents.

This is what happened last weekend, with the Penarth forwards, traditionally the team’s most potent attacking tool, struggling under pressure of a well-drilled Barry pack. Although the Penarth veteran front row trio of Richard Merrett, Chris Mortimer and Sean O’Sullivan played their hearts out, the Barry pack remained in control, even when one of their wing-forwards was given the matching orders (red card) for gouging. There was a marginal improvement in the line-out, as coach Bolton observed, but overall, the issues identified during the previous week’s match against Aberdare, as coach Bolton observed, “…lack of composure when in possession, poor tackling technique and lack of confidence at crucial moments,” have persisted and had a spoiling effect on Penarth possession and opportunities. Shortage of quality subs is also an issue, but the emergence of several newcomers, including loose-forward forward Nick Davenport is a genuine bonus.

There are good news about the back division, with the good work of the half backs, and the educated performance of young Rhys Beynon as the cherry on the cake (winning him the club Man of The Match award)not to mention the excellent contribution of try-scorer Rhys Lloyd, who impressed with his explosive runs and brisk sidestep. Captain Tom Luck, a couple of days short of his 25th birthday, had a storming game and scored a try. There is little doubt that Penarth will eventually turn the corner, given the genuine wealth of talent available and the desire of this group of young men to do well. Next weekend Penarth take on the third placed Gilfach Goch, enjoying so far an unbeaten season. Making sure we defend sagely avoiding early scores, while managing the possession properly and I honestly believe that nothing is impossible for this young and determined Penarth team.

Penarth line-up; Mitch Hickey, Ben Hill, (Rhys Beynon), Tom Luck (Cpt), Owain Lord, Rhys Lloyd, James Docherty, Rhys Morgan (Owen Rees), Miles Jones, Owain George, (Nick Davenport) Scott Mackie, Matt Allen, Owen Thomas, Sean O’Sullivan, Chris Mortimer, (Liam Richards), Richard Merrett


Tries: Tom Luck, Rhys Lloyd, Cons J Docherty