Having spent so much of the season apparently flirting with relegation, Penarth ended on a high with two well-deserved wins in four days, charging up the table and finishing at their highest position of 7th with ten wins out of twenty-two matches played.
Wednesday 8 May 2013 – Penarth 17 Fairwater 10
After Fairwater had led through an early penalty, the next half hour was uneventful, Penarth gaining the majority of territory against a gusting wind but failing to translate this into points.
Then, in time added for stoppages James Beaton was carded for an arguable entry on the wrong side and Fairwater won the scrum from the penalty and sent their winger over. The conversion was followed by the half time whistle, leaving the score at Penarth 0 Fairwater 10.
Penarth didn’t put up with this for long and used the wind to prod the ball into the 22. Fairwater used illegal tactics in defence to concede four successive penalties. The ensuing lines out were thrown short to Aaron Ellis twice and then a couple of times to the returned Beaton until the pressure was irresistible with Gary Power driven over and Mike Hurley converting.
Penarth sustained the pressure, while Fairwater earned their own yellow card and as usual tried mixing it. Intimidation doesn’t work with this Penarth front eight so the next score was a Penarth penalty.
The move of the match showed what constant pressure can do. Fairwater had enjoyed a brief dwell on the home line until Hurley belted a relieving kick downfield only for the Fairwater receiver to wilt under the threat of the oncoming home back division and put in a horribly skewed kick which was gratefully collected and spun out to James Crothers who squeezed in at the corner. Hurley hit a marvellous touch-line conversion.
Saturday 11 May 2013 – Tonyrefail 20 Penarth 56
This was champagne rugby from the Seasiders, at least for the first ten and the last twenty-five minutes! With a howling gale ripping straight up the valley at Tylcha Fawr, the team taking first use of the wind was expected to thrive. Penarth certainly lived up to this promise with an early try from Stuart Clark following a break by Richard Merrett and then after ten minutes James Beaton finished off a period of pressure in characteristic fashion.
Trailing by twelve points, Tonyrefail might have folded, but came back in storming fashion with an opening try from outside half A Pugsley and a second from wing O Lewis on the stroke of half-time following a stylish break from centre L Williams. Luckily, Mike Hurley had also slotted over a couple of penalties to keep the Seasiders in front 18-10.
With the hosts turning round with a still-mighty wind at their backs, a Penarth win really didn’t look at all likely, but that was because no-one was to know that the visitors were going to overcome the odds and run in another five tries in the second half.
An exchange of penalties was all that resulted from the first fifteen minutes’ play, but the evidence was already there that Tonyrefail weren’t going to have any more luck than the Seasiders in harnessing the elements. Then the roof suddenly fell in on the home side and the game was over as a contest.
Keeping the ball in hand, the Penarth pack worked it up-field and Richard Merrett went over for his side’s third try and six minutes later, a rather surprised-looking Matt Sutton took a pass outside the home 22 and romped home to score. Having secured the bonus point, the pressure was unrelenting and Beaton broke clear for his second and the Seasiders’ fifth.
At this point, the home side’s classy inside centre L Williams grabbed his own moment in the spotlight with a fine individual try, but with the score on 20-42 with only 14 minutes remaining, this was very much a consolation.
The Seasiders finished in commanding fashion, with Mike Hurley topping off an assured display at outside centre, adding a couple of late tries to 21 points from the boot to end up with a personal haul of 31 points.
PENARTH Dan Rees (Nathan Smith), Henry Mitchell (Louis Chandler), Mike Hurley, Mike Rowe, James Crothers , James Candy , Gareth Clancy, Richard Merrett, Joe Page, Gary Power, Richard Ball (Sean O’Sullivan), Stuart Clark (Jerome Bryan), James Beaton, Mike Clare, Matt Sutton.