FOR all the improvements and progress Penarth have made in the last six months this was a match straight from the realms of the start of last season.

Playing against newly promoted Canton, who were as physically big a side as Penarth have faced in the last few years, the Seasiders were guilty of a slow and standoffish start which handed the initiative straight to the home side who needed no invitation to exploit Penarth’s deficiencies.

After 15 minutes of play the ball had seldom left the Penarth half and Canton had established a 21-0 lead which could easily have been more. The first came from a well worked move seeing the home centre over in midfield, the second a well-rehearsed rolling maul and third a simple finish for the home wing after some disappointing defence allowed the centre to skip through untouched.

There was very little of note to mention from an attacking perspective from Penarth, their brief spells of possession punctuated by knock-ons, turnovers and penalties conceded. And with a highly efficient lineout Canton maintained the pressure and were camped within the Penarth 22.

When Ben Hill was sin binned for an adjudged deliberate knock on it did not take the home side long to exploit the space created and wrap up the try scoring bonus point within 30 minutes.

Penarth did finally come to life after the enforced introduction of Richie Bowen after Andy Lang came off on the wrong end of a heavy tackle, and 2017-18’s player of the year showed just how much he had been missed last year as he brought some energy to the Penarth performance.

Shortly after Matt Allen made some hard yards and George Roberts made a clean break, a last ditch tackle seemed to have halted the attack but captain Rhys Morgan was on hand to take the pass and go over under the posts. Morgan also added the conversion and a later penalty to move Penarth into the game.

However, Penarth’s progress was halted when Canton breezed through the sieve like defence once more to score their fifth try before frustration and a rush of blood got to Harry Wood who flew through the side of ruck to earn himself 10 minutes on the sidelines.

Once again Canton made the numbers tell and their sixth score arrived on the stroke of half-time to leave them leading 40-10 at the break.

This could not have been a scenario that the coaches were contemplating at the start of the match but their response was swift, a triple change saw James Docherty, Harry Williams and Tom Griffiths replace Kevin Maddox, Andy Richards and Mason Good respectively at half-time and along with some harsh words the second half produced a display that, whilst ultimately not enough to take any points from the match, at least showed that the first 40 minutes was a blip.

Defensively Penarth were far more assured and in possession they were far more like the side of the last few weeks with more control and discipline to build phases and exploit the openings that followed.

An injury to George Roberts 10 minutes into the second half saw Bowen move to centre with Harry Wood shifting back to second row to facilitate Geraint Williams’ introduction from the bench.

Penarth moved steadily into the Canton half and several phases close to the set things up before Docherty released Ben Hill to score on the left wing. Whilst Canton did have some territory in the second period Penarth were in the ascendancy and looked the most likely to score again. Hill went close again before Miles Jones was held up close to the line but Penarth were thwarted. It took until the last minute of the game for Penarth to score a well-earned third but a gallant effort at trying to create one last chance was cut short with a knock on and they missed out on the bonus point.

Despite the disappointment of the result and the first half display there was plenty in this performance to be pleased about and if the first home game next week results in a victory over old foes Pentyrch then this can be put aside as merely one of those days.

Penarth – H Wood, M Good ( T Griffiths), A Doyle, A Lang (R Bowen), M Allen, J Spragg, S Davies, M Jones, S Robinson, K Maddox ( J Docherty), J Crothers, A Richards (H Williams), G Roberts (G Williams), B Hill, R Morgan (c)

Scorers – B Hill (t), R Morgan (t,p,c), M Jones (t) J Docherty (c)