THE Seasiders headed up the Cynon valley last Saturday with a string of good results behind them and a real chance of shocking second-placed Aberdare.

They did just that for forty minutes as they reached half-time with the match all square at 12-12.

The Snakes began the game like a whirlwind and their backs looked very much the division’s top try-scorers as they pursued a physical, short-passing, hard-running game plan. The good news was that Penarth were looking pretty sharp themselves, with the back row putting in a huge shift defensively and turning over possession at the breakdown.

The Seasiders’ backs were also making inroads as the match settled into an all-action, low-scoring format until Aberdare broke the deadlock on the half-hour. Their outside-half suddenly broke the pattern with a superb cross-kick into the corner and their right wing narrowly beat the cover to touch down.

The next phase belonged to Penarth as a superb pas from Morgan Smith put Rhys Beynon into a gap and Tom Smith made 40 metres before the final pass went astray, Then the pack took over. Having already totally dominated the tight play, they won yet another scrum penalty and then drove the ensuing line-out with penalty advantage to the line where Owen Thomas was the scorer.

All too soon a simple passing error as the Seasiders launched another attack allowed the home outside-half to showcase his footwork as he stepped through the misaligned cover to score under the posts.

The last words in the first half belonged to Penarth as they drove an Aberdare scrum backwards on their own put-in and repeated the dose as the penalty was awarded to gain a penalty try. At which point the match was turned on its head as a fight broke out and Scott Mackie was the only one to catch the referee’s eye and received a red card for his trouble.

The problem was that with evenly-matched backs, the key advantage the Seasiders held was in the forwards and although the seven-man pack performed superbly for the remaining 40 minutes, that advantage was lost. In defence, too, it became clear that the Snakes’ game-plan was ideally suited to attacking a team with one player short and although Penarth made them work for it, they were able to run in five further tries as the gaps appeared.

Trailing 43-12 in the final minutes, the Seasiders finally had a sniff at a consolation score as one of the Aberdare replacements earned a yellow card, so with the packs both reduced to seven men, a scrum was opted for and duly driven back for a second penalty try.

Penarth can take a great deal of satisfaction from their performance in what looks like a decisive reversal and can look forward to the second half of the season with optimism. The forwards are already a force to be reckoned with and under Trystan Davies’ influence, the backs are developing real pace and inventiveness. League action returns before the New Year as Barry are the visitors to the Athletic Field on Saturday, December 30, although there is always the traditional Boxing Day fixture against Old Penarthians to come, of course.

PENARTH Tom Smith, Ben Hill, Rhys Beynon, Chris Mortimer, James Crothers, Morgan Smith, Rhys Morgan, (Owain Lord), Harrison Pugsley (Matt Russell), Mason Good, Alan Doyle, Owen Thomas, Miles Jones, Scott Mackie, Alex Thau [C], Richie Bowen

Scorers: Owen Thomas (try), 2 penalty tries, Morgan Smith (conversions).