Penarth 12-41 Fairwater

THIS was always going to be the most difficult of Penarth's remaining fixtures, being against table topping Fairwater, and so it proved.

The score accurately reflects the match and in particular a first half in which Penarth failed to get a foothold through a mixture of a rampant Fairwater defence and a cacophony of errors.

It is often considered that the importance of a solid set piece is overstated, however, when you see the effect that a malfunctioning lineout and retreating scrum has on a side’s performance you realise how critical this element of the game is.

Unfortunately in the first half Penarth were unable to build or relieve any pressure due to a failure to secure good possession, or in the case of the lineout any possession, and the result was a game that seemed over as a contest at half time.

It was a missed lineout for Penarth that ultimately resulted in the first Fairwater try as they were able to find field position before rumbling over.

And a second score was not far behind as the left wing crossed under the posts after a slick handling move.

With the wind at their backs Fairwater's inside centre was keeping Penarth pinned inside their own half with some monstrous kicks and Penarth simply struggled to escape.

At 14-0 down they did have a good five minute spell which resulted in a penalty 35 yards out but Kevin Maddox was unable to convert.

The Fairwater pressure was relentless and Penarth simply did not have the answers, collectively at least although some individual performances in particular Mason Good and Miles Jones were noteworthy in the way they took the game to the opposition and tried to drag their team mates with them.

Three more tries came for Fairwater before the break and the loss of Rhys Beynon at half time meant many in the crowd were left thinking of the disaster at Pontyclun when contemplating possible final scores.

However, anyone arriving at half time would have been shocked to hear the scoreline on the basis of what happened in the first 15 minutes of the second half.

Penarth flew out of the blocks and took the game to Fairwater in a manner which seemed inconceivable in the first period. First Ben Hill finished off a wonderful team move by going over in the left hand corner and then five minutes later, after a period of sustained pressure, Miles Jones charged over off the back of a scrum to bring the score to 12-31.

Whilst victory seemed a long way off thoughts of one, or even two, bonus points were starting to circulate.

Penarth continued their onslaught for another 10 minutes, without quite creating any clear cut chances, before two penalties in quick succession saw territory conceded and ultimately three points added to the Fairwater tally.

Whilst this seemed like a minor blip it seemed to suck the life from Penarth and reinvigorate the table toppers who showed a ruthless edge in managing to conjure a final converted try before full time as Penarth gamely tried to rescue something from the game.

With only three fixtures completed in the league, due to sides being involved in the quarter finals of the WRU Bowl, little had changed in terms of the position Penarth find themselves in, although bottom side Cefn Coed lost again to cement their place at the bottom of the league.

With a two-week break ahead Penarth will need to get that creaking set piece back in working order before the must win fixture at Cefn Coed on 23rd March.

Although they will be bolstered by the return of Alan Doyle and skipper Rhys Morgan and also the returning Richie Bowen who everyone was pleased to see play 40 minutes on Saturday after returning from a broken ankle suffered in the last game if last season.

Penarth: H.Wood (R. Merrett), M. Good (L. Richards), R. Jones, J. Spragg, H. Pugsley, R. Rees (A.Pine), J.Hughes, M. Jones, S. Robinson, K. Maddox, J. Crothers, C. Mortimer (c), R. Beynon (R. Bowen), B. Hill (L. Davies), G. Roberts

Scorers: M. Jones (t), B. Hill (t), K. Maddox (c)