WHILE last week’s comfortable home win against Clwb Rygbi signalled a lively return to form, this visit to 2nd-placed Pontyclun was expected to be a completely different sort of test.

The Badgers were co-favourites for promotion after a storming start to the season, scoring 43 tries in ten games, exceeding 30 points in six of these, including their 39-12 defeat of Penarth at the Athletic Field in October.

So much for form, then.

Coach Matt Bolton sent the team out with firm instructions to compete for everything and the Seasiders simply went out and did just that.

Pressure was exerted from the kick-off and Pontyclun could barely lay a hand on the ball for ten minutes.

However, when the Badgers did gain possession, they shipped it quickly wide to right wing Sam Davies, who showed us what his team were all about by accelerating smoothly from half way to score in the corner.

But that was as good as it got for the hapless hosts. Penarth completely dominated the remaining 70 minutes.

Pontyclun didn’t know what hit them, sometimes quite literally. A storming follow-up from George Roberts won a penalty after 20 minutes, which Josh Hurley coolly converted and, in the second quarter, it was only handling errors by the visitors that allowed the Badgers to play any part in the game at all.

Hurley added another two penalties before half-time for a 9-5 lead at the break.

With the wind at their backs in the second half, the Badgers took to kicking long for field position, but got no change out of the Seasiders with that tactic either.

The problem was that despite having the upper hand in all aspects of the game, Penarth weren’t actually getting much in the way of rewards and had to settle for pounding away in the home side’s own half. Their patience was exemplary and it took them until the 68th minute to be allowed enough continuity to extend their lead.

Spencer Robinson had been bringing his usual urgency to proceedings throughout, but as yet another scrum was driven to the line, he made the decisive intervention.

Driving towards the posts with several defenders in close attendance, instead of going to ground, he pivoted with the ball above his head and found centre Owain Lord in support, who crashed over from 5 metres for the try. Hurley converted for a 16-9 lead.

Pontyclun belatedly realised that their ambitions had shrunk to chasing a losing bonus point.

As they trailed by 11 points, only a try would suffice, but they were still having trouble getting out of their own half.

They finally managed this in the last minute, only for an attacking line-out on the Seasiders’ 22m line to be bundled back into touch.

Next Saturday brings Penarth up against 9th-placed Old Illtydians for the first time this season.

The Illts made a solid start to their campaign with four straight wins, but have only a solitary win against bottom club Cardiff Quins to their credit in the last six. In the corresponding fixture last season, the Seasiders registered a thumping 50-22 win, with a Matt Allen hat-trick of tries taking pride of place in an eight-try total.

PENARTH: Rhys Morgan ©, George Roberts, Owain Lord, Rhys Beynon, Josh Hurley, James Docherty, Spencer Robinson, Harry Wood, Mason Good, Alan Doyle (Geraint Williams), Andy Lang, Alex Shore, Thaine Baker, Miles Jones, Richie Bowen

Scorers: Owain Lord (try), Josh Hurley (3 penalties, one conversion).

Division 3 East Central A

Saturday 18th January 2020

PENARTH v Old Illtydians

The Athletic Field, Lavernock Road, Penarth

Kick-off 2.30 pm