Penarth'sPlate exit against higher division opponents
12:03pm Wednesday 30th October 2013 in Penarth sport
CELEBRATING: Second row Richard Ball celebrates his 100th appearance for the Seasiders with his usual power game. Picture: Alun Roach.
PENARTH 1st XV 3pts
ONE plus in the generally disappointing WRU rearrangement of the annual cup competitions is the chance to measure your team against higher level opposition. With the Penarth Rugby Club Firsts on a bit of a roll and sitting in the upper regions of Division 3, Saturday’s plate clash with a team one division up had this potential.
So it was sad that the settled and successful home side was ripped apart by lack of player availability. Whilst the back division was relatively unaltered, the front eight took the field with two scrum halves in the back row and an out half in the front row! From being so dominant up front this season that opponents have three times been reduced to claiming uncontested scrums, this time it was Penarth claiming them from the off.
Not a great situation for Richard Ball to celebrate his100th appearance for the club but celebrate he did by putting himself into the thick of the action all afternoon.
In fact Richard’s application to the cause was typical of all the home 15 who stuck at it to the end and left the field with great credit for their efforts. Such was their application that the senior side failed to make any headway against them for the best part of an hour.
The early stages were even-stevens, with both XVs playing a wide running game encouraged by Paul Richards, who brought in from Worcester to supervise affairs, was having no truck with the visitors slowing down release of the ball. From one such infringement, Mike Hurley gained three points to give Penarth the lead after 20 minutes.
Within 10 minutes, the Rhydyfelin skipper struck back, being at the end of some slick passing to touch down for the visitors.
Nevertheless, Penarth remained more than competitive. The work rate of Grant Robson at scrum half was outstanding and telling breaks from Ben Donovan, James Crothers and Rhys Morgan, plus Richard Ball from the pack, were keeping the visitors alert.
Half-time arrived with the score a respectable 3-5 to Rhydyfelin and, although restarting into a stiff breeze, Penarth continued to take the game to the opposition, with ball being gained and retained energetically by the scratch front eight. However, a couple of ominous signs began to appear. The home side were finding it harder to secure their own line-out ball and the visitors were bringing their main attacking assets of a fleet and left wing and elusive full back into play.
So it was that, after nearly an hour of sterling effort, Penarth were powerless to prevent visiting pressure from creating gaps and centre Lucas profiting. Within five minutes, full-back Tottle showed just how difficult he is to nail in open play and, a further five minutes later, he did it again.
When this was followed by left wing Close motoring past all challengers, the home crowd expected a rout. Instead there was a stirring resurge and all out home effort which deserved far better after an easy three points were spurned in favour of pressure on the line only for possession to be turned over and for Tottle again to turn defence into an individual score.
Next week it’s back to league business and Penarth visit Wattstown for an interesting top-of-the-table clash.
PENARTH; Huw Morgan, Ben Donovan, Rhys Morgan, Mike Hurley, James Crothers, James Thatcher, Grant Robson, James Docherty, Sean O’Sullivan, Gary Power, Richard Ball, Matt Sutton, Mike Clare, Owain George and Chris Mortimer.