Lucky Penarth pick up the points
9:02am Thursday 10th October 2013 in Penarth sport
PENARTH 1st XV 18
THANK you for three championship points, but no, no thanks for the performance! Indeed, it was a win, but it was one of those matches when nothing seemed to work, not even those aspects that appeared well under control the previous weekends.
It was one of those bad days at the office and the body language of the 24 players gathered around head coach Paul Williams at the end of the match said it all. There was not one amongst them who did not agree with his brisk assessment - “Guys, we did not deserve to win this one, and were lucky to walk away with three points."
Decision-making was, perhaps, the most significant casualty of the afternoon, with the ball-carrier electing improbable, barely credible options, both in attack and defence.
Three to one overlap! Forget it. No way should one pass to the unmarked men. Rather, try to break the cover defence singlehandedly and lose the ball in contact as a bonus.
Regain possession in defence in our 22! Instead of booting it into touch, as far away as possible, a risky chip and chase seemed an option!
And then, when needed most, the refined skills so abundantly displayed at Gwernyfed, were painfully absent – passing, kicking, tackling! There are still some Penarth players who believe that a tackle is a fishing implement, which should not be seen anywhere near a rugby pitch. This is how Brecon full back Gwyn Pengelly ended up scoring under the posts unhindered, galloping through the entire defence establishment after fielding an aimless Penarth kick near the home side's10 metres line.
But then, unlike the self-inflicted defeat at Fairwater, this time there was character, which shone through when it mattered, as well as some hard-nosed experience that may account for this quite improbable win.
As the match neared its end, it all had a whiff of Fairwater ‘déjà vu’ when the Brecon tight-head prop pulled out with an undetermined neck complaint after two consecutive scrums on his side's five metres line. There was less than a minute to go and Brecon were leading 16-13. What a charter for underhand tactics this concern for players’ welfare has become! But then there is nothing a referee can do when a front-rower complains of a neck pain.
And here we go for the one and only uncontested scrum, the third near the Brecon line, and probably the last of the match. What happened next was as much textbook rugby as it was fairytale stuff, with two of the team’s most experienced players taking charge. Replacement No 8 and playing chairman Mike Clare picked up from the base of the scrum and crucially crossed the advantage line before passing to the rampaging replacement scrum-half, Chris Mortimer, who crashed over for the winning try. Earlier, two try-saving tackles by the defiant Mortimer and the never-say-die Ben Donovan, as well as the dreadful form of the Brecon place kicker, kept Penarth in contention and, ultimately, contributed to a laboured two-point win.
Penarth: Richard Merrett, Joe Page, Gary Power (capt), Stuart Clark (Mike Clare), Richard Ball (Dai Morgan), Matt Sutton, Geraint Blake, Scott Mackie (Ben James), Rhys Morgan (Chris Mortimer), James Docherty, James Crothers, Michael Gubb, Mike Hurley, Ben Donovan and James Candy.