Good result for Penarth - but a Jekyll and Hyde performance
8:50am Thursday 4th October 2012 in Sport
CLASSY: Scrum Half Owain George enjoys an armchair ride behind the dominant Penarth pack. Pictures: Alun Roach.
PENARTH 33 NANTYMOEL 27
WHATEVER was in the Penarth half time potion, it certainly transformed first half Dr Jekylls into second half Mr Hydes!
Having put in 40 minutes of disciplined, structured and solidly pressuring rugby to dominate their visitors in all departments, Penarth turned into some shapeless beast unable to hold onto the ball or pull down attacking opponents.
So a sewn-up victory became a nailbiter, leaving the home support yearning for the final whistle.
It all started famously. The sun shone brightly. The roundabouts and stalls of the ‘Fun Day’ had pulled in a big crowd, and the home side followed the exhortation on the huge bouncy castle to ‘Jump and Smile’.
The Penarth front eight took ten minutes to work out that they totally outgunned the opposition. From an attacking scrum number 8 Alex Thau drove over the gain line to gain a penalty.
A further scrum was the option taken from which Thau again drove, and again Nantymoel transgressed and a further scrum was taken. The only difference this time was that Thau was too close now to be denied. Mike Hurley converted.
With the level of dominance displayed it was of no great concern when a few minutes later Nantymoel found themselves with a clear overlap and left wing Collins ran in the corner.
The home team's response was simply to get back to business through Thau again. He sensibly held a blind side run to pull in the defence for James Crothers to receive the delightfully timed offload, turn on the gas and touch down.
By now the classy Owain George was revelling in the forward machine at his disposal and conducting a master class in orchestration. The pack drove on, George steered and inevitably Thau spun off to break two tackles and lunge across the line. Referee Richard Jones was in a minority of one in denying a touch down.
It mattered little as Penarth possessed at least two other big ball carriers in captain Richard Merrett and Aaron Ellis. Merrett broke the defence and Ellis on his shoulder put in the finishing touch.
With half time approaching there was time for the backs to join in. A nicely floated long clearance from outside half James Candy set up yet another attacking scrum; this time Merrett did the donkey work and centre Ben Donovan used speed and strength to score the bonus point try.
Breaking off with a 26-8 lead and complete domination in ideal playing conditions, Penarth looked well set.
At the restart Tom Gent took a well earned rest and Sean O’Sullivan continued the excellent work up front.
At this stage the home side back row was readjusted. Matt Sutton came off with Alex Thau moving to blind side and Mike Clair coming on at number 8.
Whether this change came under the ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’ rule, or whether some other factor was at work we don’t know. However the completely assured side that started the second half started to make all sorts of errors. Possession was kicked away, the ball fumbled and most tellingly, first tackles were missed.
It was this last that brought the visitors back into the game when, in their first real attack since the first half try, they walked through a flimsy defence for centre Davies to touch down.
Penarth straightway added to their own woes by venting frustration on the referee, who responded by awarding Nantymoel the further ten metres that gave them the impetus to release right wing Richard and to come within four points of a side who had previously outclassed them.
Fortuitously for Penarth the visitors then panicked and gave away a scrum under their own posts. This was still the department that Penarth had sewn up, and Mike Clair had simply to flop down after the powerhouse shove for the seven points that secured victory.
Brad Cole and Tom Gillinder replaced Scott Mackie and James Candy.
At the death visiting wing Collins still had time to exploit loose home defence and earn Nantymoel both a try bonus point and a bonus for finishing within six points of the winners.
There will be mixed emotions for the home management. Rightfully they will take pleasure at a result and a stirling first half display, but should be concerned that an opponent who developed only four attacking moves scored from every one.
Penarth: Rhodri Smith; Henry Mitchell; Ben Donovan; Mike Hurley; James Crothers; James Candy (Tom Gillinder); Owain George; Richard Merrett (capt); Joe Page; Tom Gent (Sean O’Sullivan); Aaron Ellis; Daniel Hoffman; Scott Mackie (Brad Cole); Alex Thau; Matt Sutton (Mike Claire).
* On Saturday Penarth are away at Tonyrefail.