“TOO little, too late” was the conclusion of one of the senior Penarth RFC players at the conclusion of an animated encounter in which the lead changed hands eight times against fellow relegation contenders Abercynon at Y Park at the weekend.

It was too little, in the sense that despite their considerable efforts the Seasiders fell short of the standard required to convince themselves and the referee that they deserved to win this crucial tie, going down 24-18.

It was too late, in the sense that they had somehow left their best efforts for the closing stages of this National League 2 East Central game.

Last weekend, the lively Abercynon backs posed a host of problems from the outset, but Penarth were first to put points on the board through James Docherty who landed a penalty to take the lead (0-3).

After about half an hour of trying Abercynon went through for a try which they converted (7-3).

Penarth’s James Crothers answered in kind and the lead changed hands (7-8) only for the hosts to strike again with a converted try (14-8) just before half time.

After the break hard-working second rower Owen Thomas went over for Penarth‘s second try with Docherty converting, to recapture the lead (14-15).

Abercynon crept ahead (17-15) after a penalty, only for Penarth to strike back through Docherty (17-18).

The hosts pressed ahead and their efforts were rewarded with their third try, which they converted to take the lead (24-18).

Soon after that, despite passive scrums that held them back during the final quarter of this incandescent game, the Penarth reaction materialised as expected as the Seasiders managed to conjure a couple of acts of escapism that should have brought them redemption.

But the match official agreed to disagree as Penarth forwards besieged the Abercynon goal-line.

Penarth looked to have scored tries by scrum-half Rhys Morgan, and then skipper Alex Thau, only for the touchdowns to be disallowed.

Now, after Tuesday’s night 7-17 defeat at the hands of a hard-tackling St Peter’s XV, only a miracle could prevent Penarth from sampling the bitter taste of relegation at the end of the season, though they still have two matches to play, against Llantwit Fardre on Saturday and a rearranged tie against Cambrian Welfare on the 21st of April.

This was the third time Penarth and St Peter’s played each other this season and with the Seasiders winning the previous two games, it was the third time lucky for the Rocks, who managed to overcome a spirited, occasionally imposing Penarth XV.

With the score tied 7-all at half time during the first 40 minutes largely dominated by the home side (for Penarth the impressive second rower Anthony Pine scored a try, converted by outside half Morgan Smith), the second half turned into an uphill survival struggle for the Seasiders pinned in their own half by the visitors’ awesome defensive effort.

In fairness, the gallant Penarth had gone down fighting, but the verdict of the weekend was still ringing in the ears of the players as they acknowledged defeat at the hand of a better side, “it was too little, too late”.

Penarth v Abercynon (1-15): Harrison Pugsley, (Harry Wood) Mason Good,(Iwan Baker) Dave Thomas, Owen Thomas, Nick Davenport, Mike Clare, Alex Thau (Captain), Miles Jones, Rhys Morgan, James Docherty (Morgan Smith) Tom Smith, Chris Mortimer, James Crothers, Ben Hill, (Alex Fulton) Owain Lord.

Scorers: tries Crothers, O. Thomas, pens Docherty 2, Con Docherty, Yellow Cards Crothers, Wood

Penarth v St Peter’s RFC (1-15): Jerome Bryan, (Harison Pugsley) Mason Good (Iwan Baker), Sean O’Sullivan, Owen Thomas, Anthony Pine (Aaron Ellis), Mike Clare , Alex Thau (Captain), Nick Davenport, Rhys Morgan, Morgan Smith, (James Docherty) James Crothers, Chris Mortimaer, James Candy, Ben Hill, Owain Lord.

Scorer: try Pine, Con Smith