By Matthew Slugg

A FINE fifth-wicket partnership between Llyr Morris and Ben Wellington was the key contribution as Penarth enjoyed victory over Blackwood at the Athletic Field on Saturday.

In the second of two friendlies before the start of a ‘mini-league’ next week, Penarth looked in deep trouble at 35 for 4 before a stand of 158 transformed the match and steered Penarth to 203 for 5.

The Blackwood reply never quite threatened before a clatter of late wickets saw them dismissed some 63 short of their target.

The game began well for the visitors with Kieran Rowe removing both Penarth openers, Jack Thomas and Zac Essenhigh, with just four on the board. Will Skone and Steffan Crimp steadied the ship slightly before both fell in quick succession and the visitors were well on top at 35 for 4.

The fourth wicket, in the thirteenth over, brought together Morris and Wellington and this pair steadily moved the match in Penarth’s favour either side of a lengthy rain delay.

Progress was measured at first, but some increasingly impressive stroke-play from both players meant that the pair added 85 runs in the final ten overs.

It wasn’t until the penultimate over that Blackwood grabbed a fifth wicket, Wellington falling for 73, leaving Morris to finish unbeaten for an impressive run-a-ball 88.

Blackwood’s pursuit of 204 began steadily but some tight bowling from Rhys McGowan and Tom Pascoe meant that they were always behind the required rate.

Essenhigh and Crimp were equally miserly with the ball but it took until the 17th over and the introduction of spin with Will Skone before Penarth grabbed their first wicket with the score at 53. Skone went on to collect the first four wickets to fall as Blackwood slumped to 94 for 4 before Mark Thomas got in on the act with two wickets of his own.

By now the result was in no doubt and Richard Skone and Wellington got themselves among the wickets as Blackwood were finally dismissed for 140 in the final over of their 40.

The second team game at Crumlin was a victim of heavy overnight rain which left the third and fourth XI matches versus Dinas Powys as the only remaining action.

The third team faced a strong Dinas Powys team but began well as veteran seamers Mark Frost and Andrew Graveson bowled particularly miserly spells.

The Dinas batsmen found the going rather easier after that and moved along steadily to manage 203 from their 40 overs.

Wickets fell at regular intervals in the Penarth reply and the target never looked in any trouble before the tail was blown away leaving Penarth all out for 90.

At the Common a young Penarth team batted first in very testing conditions and posted 85 for 9 with juniors Kreshay Bharwani and Adam Akhtar batting well at the top of the order for 23 and 13 respectively while Martin Dennett made 17.

Dinas Powys made straightforward work of their pursuit of the target with Hiscocks and Palmer leading the way while Bharwani completed a good afternoon with two wickets while U13s Isaac Foster and Luke Summerfield bowled nicely without reward.

Next weekend the first team host Cowbridge in the first fixture of a reduced league season, with the seconds away to the same opponents.

The thirds visit Creigiau while Cardiff University staff will visit the Athletic Field on Sunday.