Victory at last: Penarth RFC end 18-month barren spell!
9:00am Thursday 13th September 2012 in Sport
DASHING ADAN: Adan Cole cuts a dash; James Docherty and Aaron Ellis clearly approve. Picture: Alun Roach.
PORTH 25 PENARTH 27
THE promising glow shown at Pentyrch last week was still with the Seasiders as they approached a difficult fixture up at the Welfare Ground against Porth Harlequins.
Brimming with confidence in the warm-up and 3-0 up after only five minutes through a James Docherty penalty, Penarth were rocked back on their heels as a powerful Porth back division went through their paces.
Putting it through the hands, a pass slipped out of the back of the hand, created an overlap and No 8 Gareth Lewis was in at the corner. With the Seasiders under all sorts of pressure, a cross-kick found the defence offside and centre Leon Rowlands converted the penalty.
A further try soon followed, with a spectacularly missed tackle out wide and wing Daniel Hitchins moving up a gear to cruise in at the opposite corner. With the score at standing at a forbidding 15-3 after 20 minutes, it was already beginning to look as if all the pre-match confidence was misplaced. Penarth were being given a lesson in the basics, while their own defensive organisation and execution were all over the place.
A good point to set about winning the game I suppose, and that’s exactly what the Seasiders did as the flow of points was abruptly halted. Just the points, not the domination, which continued without reward as even the Porth pack seemed to have a clear upper hand.
Cue a piece of inspiration that changed the complexion of the game as a quick tapped penalty on the visitors’ own 10-metre line allowed Tom Luck to set Ben Donovan running. There’s no substitute for pace and the speedy wing beat two tacklers on his way to a stroll under the posts for a try that brought the score back to a manageable 15-10.
The Seasiders roared back from the restart and a Docherty penalty from 30 metres saw the sides turn around with the score on 15-13.
The second half was a much closer-fought affair and, although Porth were soon able to extend their lead as they stole a defensive line-out and hooker Andrew Evans squeezed in at the corner, this didn’t seem to bother Penarth too much as they dominated the next 20 minutes.
It has to be admitted that two perfectly good overlaps were butchered in the process. When the first of a series of lengthy sieges also failed to bring any reward, the management rang the changes, bringing on Elliott Smith and Gareth Mathias.
While this didn’t solve all the problems, at least it brought a try, albeit a controversial one. The drive from the five-metre scrum was straight this time, but ground to a halt two metres short, where Aaron Ellis took it on his own initiative and dived in for a close decision on the equalising score.
At 20-20, a draw looked a good result but neither side was having any of it and the hosts conjured a fourth try from a line-out on halfway. Brilliant support running from the back division switched play to the right-hand corner and No 8 Lewis was in, again at the corner, for his second.
This in-the-corner business meant the tries weren’t getting converted and this was to prove crucial as the Seasiders inserted the final piece of the jigsaw with the hosts a mere five points in the lead.
Two of the more experienced members of this young side swapped places as the evergreen Sean O’Sullivan made way after an hour’s hard labour for a fresh Andy Pyman. This was bad news for Porth as the initiative up front passed decisively to the visitors. Ben Donovan ran clear, chipped ahead and was unlucky to touch down just over the dead ball line.
Porth missed a crucial penalty and were resorting to dubious tactics to combat a determined Penarth pack. A string of penalties, scrums and resets ensued and, where you can usually depend on a referee resisting the temptation, Simon Wycherly wasn’t labouring under any illusions as to where his duty lay as he wrestled his way past the milling defenders to award the penalty try that won the game for the jubilant Seasiders.
To end an 18-month barren spell in an away fixture is one thing - but to settle it against probably one of the best teams in the division was nothing short of remarkable.
Cardiff Quins are the visitors to the Athletic Field next Saturday.
PENARTH: Nathan Smith, Ben Donovan, Tom Luck, James Thatcher, James Crothers, James Docherty, Chris Mortimer (Gareth Mathias), Sean O’Sullivan (Andy Pyman), Joe Page, Richard Merrett, Jon Boland, Aaron Ellis, Adan Cole, Alex Thau (Elliott Smith), Rob Pearce (Matt Sutton).
Swalec League Division 3 (SE) - Saturday, September 15 - PENARTH v Cardiff Quins The Athletic Field, Lavernock Road. Kick-off 2.30pm.