Penarth RFC secure a losing bonus point on opening day of season
8:50am Thursday 6th September 2012 in Sport
ELLIOTT'S TRY: It's a try for Elliott Smith, the Penarth No 8 going over with close support from Adan Cole. Picture: Alun Roach.
PENTYRCH 23 PENARTH 18
PENARTH Rugby Club shook off the bizarre legacy of last season’s strange campaign and made a storming return to league action at breezy Parc-y-Dwrlyn on Saturday.
With only four remaining in the starting line-up from the same fixture last autumn and a tasty-looking bench, there was a good deal of optimism amongst the travelling support. This was amply vindicated as the Seasiders made a well-drilled start, taking the lead through a James Docherty penalty after only four minutes.
The character of Pentyrch’s challenge was clearly in evidence almost from the restart as they attacked from a 35-metre scrum, the blindside flanker blocking Elliott Smith as No 8 Adam Scanlon ran through the gap and clear to the line.
Penarth maintained their discipline in impressive style, with the pack, featuring an entirely new second row, standing up well to a close examination and they soon forced their way back into the lead with a stirring catch-and-drive leading to a try by Elliott Smith.
The Seasiders continued to dominate until returning captain Gary Power was forced off with an injury and Sean O’Sullivan came on as a more than adequate replacement. Adan Cole was making impressive inroads with his characteristic charges, but the most prominent feature of the game was that Pentyrch were doing their level best to kill it.
After 30 minutes, referee Lynn Davies eventually read them the riot act but, unfortunately, failed to follow up with decisive action, as it was business as usual for the hosts at the next breakdown.
The rest of the half was played out mostly in the hosts' 22 until a late rally almost brought them level, but for a last-minute missed penalty.
The teams turned around with Penarth holding on to a narrow 5-8 lead but Pentyrch struck back early with a well-worked try on the overlap from left wing Will Adams-Jones. A two-point lead looked distinctly shaky as the Seasiders piled on the pressure. Alex Thau and Aaron Ellis came on to add weight to the proceedings and Pentrych openside flanker David Ince departed for good with a second yellow card.
However, the hosts were able to break out and stretch their lead with a further penalty before Penarth could make their advantage count. A tapped penalty from Tom Luck led to a ruck on the goal line and it was Ellis who reached over to plant the equalising try.
With 15 minutes to go, the match was there for the taking for the rampant visitors but the hosts dug deep and forced their way upfield to claim a third try and a precarious 18-13 lead with four minutes remaining.
The Seasiders threw everything into attack but disaster loomed as a bobbling clearance was fumbled into touch. Pentyrch No 8 Scanlon emerged from the line-out and ran straight at the defence, bouncing off several tackles before touching down for his second try, sealing the match and a bonus point.
The home side had demonstrated it was all about character under pressure, and the Seasiders showed they weren’t short of it either as Joe Page popped up at the death and secured a losing bonus point with the visiting side's third try.
Next Saturday Penarth visit Porth Harlequins. The Rhondda club were the biggest winners on the opening day of the season, defeating Tonyrefail 8-34.
PENARTH: James Docherty, Henry Mitchell, Tom Luck, James Thatcher, James Crothers, Nathan Smith, Gareth Mathias, Gary Power (Sean O’Sullivan), Joe Page, Richard Merrett, Max Wooton, Jon Boland (Aaron Ellis), Adan Cole, Elliott Smith (Alex Thau) and Matt Sutton.
* Swalec League Division 3 (SE) - Saturday, September 8 - Porth Harlequins v PENARTH (The Welfare Ground, Nythbran Terrace, Porth; kick-off 2.30pm).