HAVING seemingly had this WRU Bowl first round fixture wrapped up at half-time when leading 26-3 and then certainly lost at 26-29 down late in the second half, Penarth showed serious character to pull through late on and book their place in the second round.

The first half was as good as Penarth have been for some time.

Rhys Beynon was the spark with a fine individual break and outrageous reverse pass to send Owain Lord under the posts.

An interception from outside-half Morgan Smith followed shortly after and with both conversions successful Penarth had a 14-point lead after 15 minutes.

Llantwit pulled a penalty back, but Penarth underlined their dominance with Mike Clare scoring from a rolling maul which was cleverly set up in midfield by Richard Merrett and following Clare having to withdraw with a hamstring injury his replacement Aaron Ellis crashed over from the back of a scrum at the end of the first half.

The questions on the sidelines were mainly concerned with how big a win this was going to be but Llantwit were not going to roll over easily.

The visitors fielded a huge pack who, despite being comprehensively outplayed in the first half, took the game to Penarth in the opening salvos of the second half.

Penarth initially repelled the attacks but after the loss of Merrett and Beynon a fine rolling maul saw Llantwit close the gap in a moment which also saw a yellow card awarded to second row Andy Lang.

Llantwit now had wind in their sails and in the following 15 minutes scored three quick tries to take an unlikely lead at 26-29.

A second rolling maul try was followed quickly by two fine individual efforts from visiting outside-half Howley, although Penarth will no doubt be asking questions about some of the defending on show.

In recent time such a turnaround and shift in momentum would have signalled the end for Penarth, but this group seems to have a bit more steel than supporters have been used to seeing.

First Penarth established field position outside the Llantwit 22 before going through multiple phases to draw in the visiting attack.

Then skipper Rhys Morgan fed Ellis who showed impressive strength and determination to power over with no less than five Llantwit defenders hanging on to him.

Llantwit got straight back on the front foot but an outstanding turnover from tighthead Alan Doyle saw Penarth reclaim possession and the ball fell to Morgan Smith.

Having assessed his options Smith stepped the first defender and hit the accelerator to power past the halfway line before drawing in the last defender to feed his brother Tom who showed a clean pair of heels to the desperate defenders to go over in the corner and open a nine-point gap.

With six minutes still to play Llantwit showed great resilience to set up position within the Penarth 22.

Chris Mortimer found himself on the wrong side of the referee and in the sin bin for the final throws of the match.

And Llantwit managed to find a way over the line to the close the gap to two points with just 20 seconds remaining.

Llantwit fielded the restart and managed to complete several phases but Penarth’s defence was ferocious and they forced the error to seal the victory.

Whilst the game supplied numerous questions about how Penarth found themselves behind in game that they were in total control of at half time it also confirmed that this is a side that has the ability open defences at will and has the fortitude to keep going in adversity which is something that will be a huge source of encouragement for the coaches and supporters alike.

The next test for this side is to take the confidence from this victory into the next league game and start making a move up the table.

Penarth – R. Merrett (S.O’Sullivan), I.Baker, A.Doyle, A.Lang, H.Pugsley (Ryan Jones), C.Mortimer, A.Fulton, M.Clare (A.Ellis), R.Morgan, M.Smith, J.Crothers (B.Hill), R.Beynon (K.Maddox), O.Lord, S.Robinson, T Smith.

Scorers – A Ellis (2t), M Smith (t/4c), T Smith (t), M Clare (t), O.Lord (t)