THERE were plenty of puzzling things about this deeply strange encounter, but the main question was how Gilfach scored so many tries and Penarth so few. It really should have been closer.

One thing became clear from the outset: the visitors were playing the referee superbly while the hosts struggled to understand why they were getting penalised all the time. Gilfach full-back C.Davies turned out to be a bit of a long-range specialist as he nailed a 40-metre penalty sending his side into a 3-0 lead after eight minutes. However, the penalties continued to flow and after a superb turn-over on the line by Nick Davenport, the visitors blindside flanker drove for the line and released his hooker for the first try at the end of the first quarter.

Gilfach were certainly a lively bunch and although the Seasiders were enjoying their usual dominance at scrum time, they simply couldn’t get their hands on any useful possession for their dangerous-looking back division. The match continued in this way as only the one side shipped penalties, culminating in a yellow card for Davenport. Despite all this, the effort from the home side was unstinting and they seemed certain to score on the half-hour only for an apparently deliberate knock-on by a Gilfach defender to interrupt the move resulting in nothing more than a scrum.

By now, Davenport had been allowed back on after what seemed like about 15 minutes and the Seasiders gained their reward as the scrum was driven over and the number eight claimed the score. The visitors struck back immediately. The return from the restart was run back down the left flank and outside centre T.Roberts accelerated superbly through a gap that wasn’t really there to score from 40 metres.

As the sides turned round at 5-17 in what still looked like a close game, the second half started with a Gilfach penalty and continued with a Scott Mackie yellow card as Penarth’s travails continued. The hosts recovered well from this set-back and no points were conceded during his absence and right up to the hour mark.

This improvement was sadly punctuated by a smartly-taken try by Gilfach inside-centre L.Davies, but the Seasiders had got to grips with the situation and laid siege to the visitors’ line through a string of penalties and the dismissal of the Gilfach number 5. But by this time Gilfach had also found a way to nullify the Penarth scrum as the last twenty minutes were played out with uncontested scrums.

Trailing 24-5, the Seasiders threw everything at the visitors but had reached a point where they were simply trying too hard and the errors mounted. This made them vulnerable to breaks from the opposition, as Gilfach ran in a further two tries in the last ten minutes. Penarth attacked throughout, even crossing the line on several occasions, but failed to gain any reward.

Once again, the Seasiders’ pack had established a solid platform for a well-balanced back-line, but failed to gain any real traction against well-drilled opposition that didn’t need to dominate proceedings in order to maintain their 100 per cent record and rise to second in the division.

Penarth now travel to the Diamond Ground at Forest Farm to face Cardiff Quins next Saturday. The Quins registered their first win of the season this week against winless Llantwit Fardre.

PENARTH Tom Smith, Tom Luck [C], Owain Lorde (James Crothers), Rhys Beynon, Rhys Lloyd (Mitch Hickey), James Docherty, Rhys Morgan (Alex Fulton), Richard Merrett, Chris Mortimer (Owen Rees), Sean O’Sullivan (Harrison Pugsley), Mike Clare, Matt Allen, Scott Mackie, Nick Davenport, Owain George

Scorers: Nick Davenport (try)

Next fixture

Division 2 East Central

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Cardiff Quins v PENARTH

The Diamond Ground,

Forest Farm Road, Whitchurch

Kick-off 2.30pm