PENARTH were denied what would have been a massive boost to their hopes of avoiding relegation from National League Two East Central courtesy of a last-ditch penalty at Llanishen Park.

The hosts dominated the opening exchanges and went through several phases from an attacking lineout before creating a gap their winger went through for the first score.

The Seasiders took no time in retaliating as Chris Mortimer drove deep and Alex Thau moved play into the home 22.

The ball was turned over and cleared, but only as far as full-back Tom Smith, who quickly assessed the situation and ran in the equalising try from 50 metres without anyone laying a finger on him.

Straight from the restart, James Docherty hoisted a high one back into the home 22.

Llanishen’s full-back failed to make a clean catch and was caught by Alex Fulton and forced into touch.

The catch-and-drive was halted near the line but the ball was worked inside to Docherty who fed Mortimer for a cracking try under the posts.

Penarth now led 14-7 after 15 minutes but then Llanishen made all the running and drew level on the half-hour as their inside centre found a gap in the visitors’ defence.

Although Llanishen were now starting to look dangerous and moving the ball quickly away from contact, the Seasiders continued to press and would have extended their lead but a penalty was missed on the stroke of half-time.

The hosts made a determined bid to take the match away from Penarth as the second half opened.

Working though several phases from an attacking scrum, they finally eased their front jumper through a gap and nosed in front 19-14.

Despite being put under more intense pressure, the Seasiders struck back 12 minutes later with another try out of the top drawer.

Matt Allen ran a turnover up to halfway, Richie Bowen took it on and drew several defenders before slipping a near-perfect offload to Ben Hill who outran the cover to score from 40 metres.

Docherty slotted a difficult conversion from the touchline and the Seasiders were back in front at 21-19 with 22 minutes remaining.

Despite a brief period of pressure as Penarth tried to consolidate their lead, the final quarter belonged to Llanishen.

The Seasiders tackled their hearts out and got out of jail time after time until the hosts finally got the penalty they needed, only for their outside-half to miss from 25 metres.

Llanishen continued to press from the drop-out and when the next penalty arrived they opted for a scrum.

A knock-on gave Penarth the put-in at the next scrum but they couldn’t move it beyond first phase.

Almost inevitably they yielded a penalty right under their own posts which Llanishen’s number 10 converted with the last kick of the match.

Penarth deserved more than a losing bonus point for such a dogged display, but the real fight against relegation now starts with a critical home fixture against bottom club Llantwit Fardre on March 24.

Penarth: T Smith; B Hill, J Crothers, C Mortimer, A Fulton (O Lord); J Docherty, R Morgan; H Pugsley, I Baker, S O’Sullivan, O Thomas, M Allen (S Mackie), A Thau, N Davenport, R Bowen.