DESPITE a brave effort from a young inexperienced Penarth youth team, last Saturday saw them lose for the first time this season 24-17 away to a strong Pontypool United youth in the first round of the WRU Youth Cup.

It was always going to be a tough battle for the younger Penarth boys, having lost 15 of the older experienced players to university last week and the WRU deciding to place the team into the main WRU Youth Cup competition, not allowing the boys to defend their WRU Youth Plate, which they won at Cardiff Arms Park last season .

It meant that the Penarth coaches had to field a team containing seven youth players in their first season, many of whom were in the pack, against a much older, stronger, Pontypool RFC united eight, which proved, despite some great play from the Penarth boys, a tough task.

On a heavy pitch at the United ground the Penarth forwards struggled to establish any clean possession from the Pontypool pack and throughout the match the Penarth backs were living off scraps of possession. Despite this, after 25 minutes the score remained at 0-0 before a ruck five metres out from the Penarth line saw the Pontypool openside flanker crash over to open the scoring and take the score to 7-0

From the restart, the Pontypool pack took the ball on and after some valiant defence from the Penarth back row of James Rees, Hugo Holmes and Dan Anderton, the Pontypool boys managed to encroach into the Penarth 22 before an infringement in a ruck saw a penalty go against the Penarth boys. The Pontypool outside half stepped up and duly slotted over the kick to make the score 10-0.

Rather against the run of play and with some great counter attacks coming from Penarth full back Harry Williams and centres George Williams and Aron Arthur, the Pontypool forwards again dominated open play with pods sitting in the midfield sucking in the Penarth defence which opened up a gap to see them score again making the score 17-0 at half time.

The home team again continued to dominate the opening stages of the second half and managed to extend their lead after five minutes to 24-0 with the Penarth boys struggling to get into the game.

With some forced changes due to injury just 10 minutes after half time, it saw the Penarth coaches switch scrum half Joe Williams to outside half, Morgan Rees come on at scrum half and Toby Dyer brought in on the wing to replace Mike Halligan.

As the Pontypool forwards started to tire, it gave an opportunity for the more mobile lighter Penarth pack to move the ball a lot quicker as they started to win more possession, and this resulted in Dyer scoring his first try for the youth in the right corner, taking the score to 24-7 following the conversion by Joe Williams.

With heads up and the introduction of Gruff Shewring replacing Luc Kean -Adams on the wing, the Penarth boys found themselves with the ball in hand far more and played to their strength breaching the Pontypool line far more and for the first time putting the Pontypool boys on the back foot.

With increasing pressure being placed on the Pontypool line, Dyer was very close to scoring a second try before being stopped short by the defence. With an offside infringement being spotted by the referee, Penarth took a quick penalty tap by Tom Griffiths and supported by Will Parsons were again stopped short before Shewring, coming off his wing, managed to wriggle his way over from the ruck to score near the posts. Following the conversion, again by Williams, it took the final score to Pontypool 24-14 Penarth.

It was a brave attempt by the Penarth boys against a far more experienced heavier Pontypool team and coaches Simon Rees and Dai Williams praised the boys for the great effort on the pitch.