THE Seasiders faced a number of challenges on a chilly, but snow-free afternoon at the Athletic Field last Saturday.

Eleventh-placed Abercynon, two points behind Penarth with a game in hand, were the main concern, but it soon became clear that they’d have their work cut out as a building penalty count at the breakdown meant they could wave goodbye to any chance of phase play.

So what else did Penarth have to fall back on as Abercynon went into an early lead with a third-minute penalty and outside-half Morgan Smith departed injured? The immediate answer was an equalising penalty from James Docherty, but four minutes later it was the by now familiar figure of Ritchie Bowen showing the usual athleticism taking a pass on half-way and challenging the visitors to stop him scoring under the posts. They couldn’t.

By now the scrum belonged to the Penarth eight and even when penalised, they inevitably took the next one against the head. This was the source of the next score after 27 minutes as Miles Jones drove over at the second attempt, bursting through with four Abercynon defenders in close attendance..

However, the penalty count meant that the visitors enjoyed plenty of field position and threatened from a 5 metre line-out in the Penarth 22.

Owen Thomas first to the ball, but it ended up on the deck and Abercynon’s James Leigh grounded for the score.

The 17-10 scoreline was hardly a reflection of the Seasiders’ dominance, but they struck back on the stroke of half-time. Driving the restart back up to the visitors’ posts, they were naturally penalised for not releasing at the breakdown, but nevertheless ran the penalty clearance back and captain Tom Luck squeezed in at the corner.

The second half was a quieter affair, at least until a scuffle broke out which saw a player from each side given a yellow card. By then another breakdown penalty had allowed the visitors to claw back three points, but that was as good as it got for them.

Uncontested scrums had already dealt with Penarth’s dominance in the tight, but the line-out was still delivering the goods as Alex Thau took one off the top and fed Rhys Morgan. The scrum-half offered Bowen the opportunity to take it up and the flanker quickly made 20 metres into the Abercynon 22.

After a short siege, it was Morgan himself who plunged over from short range to claim the bonus-point fourth try.

The Seasiders can now travel to second-placed Aberdare next Saturday with a degree of confidence as they have now climbed to ninth place, fully seven points above the relegation places.

PENARTH Tom Smith, Ben Hill, Rhys Beynon, Tom Luck [C], James Crothers, Morgan Smith (James Docherty), Rhys Morgan, (Owain Lord), Sean O’Sullivan (Dave Thomas), Mason Good, Alan Doyle, Owen Thomas, Miles Jones, Chris Mortimer (Scott Mackie), Alex Thau, Ritchie Bowen

Scorers: Ritchie Bowen (try), Miles Jones (try) Tom Luck (try), Rhys Morgan (try) James Docherty (penalty, 2 conversions).