Fixture

Rumney RFC | 1st Team 11 - 35 Penallta RFC | 1st Team
Lee Rowlands
1 Try
Joseph Scrivens
2 Conversion
2 Penalty
Gareth Edwards
1 Try
Elliott Keep
2 Try
Andrew Jenkins
1 Try

Match Report
06 October 2014 / Team News

2 from 2 at Rumney!

After over five years of failing to win at Rumney, Penallta have cruised to two wins there in two weeks, remaining unbeaten at the top of the league. Following last week’s cup triumph Penallta met Rumney for a league rematch at Riverside Park. Rumney were bolstered by returning players to their pack whilst Penallta remained largely unchanged, except for a return to Penallta colours for Number 8 Jack Condy, dually-signed directly from youth rugby by Premiership Side Cross Keys.

 

Rumney came out of the blocks hungry for revenge.  After last week’s humiliation in the scrums, where Rumney conceded nearly double-figure heels against the head, they were determined to set the standard early. The opening exchanges were aggressive and full of bite; stirring stuff – reaching the standards both crowds have come to expect from these contests over the past half-decade. Unfortunately, the referee wasn’t particularly interested in the big picture of two heavyweights going at it and dealt with it with a small but emphatic red card. Two of them in fact, within the first five minutes.

 

Penallta’s open-side Rhys Stephens made the first walk-of-shame, reeling in shock at seeing red for retaliatory punches after just three minutes. Then in a pique of madness moments later, Rumney’s Number 8 saw red for retaliation, throwing a punch directly in front of the referee after the whistle had gone, to find himself walking back to a bench full of displeased faces. Five minutes gone, 28 players left. A shame really, for the furious intensity of the game could’ve met with less extreme punishments; yellows would have sufficed. To be fair to the referee both sins technically merited a red card but a stern talking to could’ve spiked the early salvo of nastiness.

 

After tit for tat penalties Penallta soon began to take control of the game. Pleasingly for the away team, Rumney looked a threatening side with their usual gusto and willingness to attack out wide, but Penallta almost completely nullified the threat. Jonny Wright and Andrew Jenkins closed the midfield doors in defence and the direct ball carrying of Condy and Wright soon took its toll. After going into the lead 6-3 Penallta turned the screw. First, full-back Ryan Davies was denied what could’ve been a lovely try by a foot in touch. Correct decision, but it didn’t stop the tide. Minutes later Penallta broke loose again. The superb Aeron Bidgood, undoubtedly one of the hot young scrum-half talents in the game, made one of his trademark blistering breaks and from it, after good hands from Condy, powerful winger Gareth Edwards ran in for the game’s first try. Enigmatic fly-half Joseph Scrivens, having one of those days where his boots had blindfolds on, managed to miss a simple conversion, one of six he missed throughout the game, and Rumney managed to kick a penalty to trail at half-time by 11-6. But the writing was on the wall.

 

Across fifteen devastating second half minutes Penallta secured the bonus point and effectively ended the contest. With Martyn Dunn and Kieran Mahoney destructive as ever in the scrum, Rumney started pedalling backwards in all departments. Penallta began dominating the ruck area with Jenkins supremely efficient and young open-side Rhys Fiztgerald consolidating his reputation as a big star of the future. With Rumney on the ropes it was time for 19-year-old winger Elliott Keep to enter the fray. What a player Keep is proving to be. Powerful and fast, he is one of the best finishers about. He took his first try with supreme pace and his second with brute power; one of those line-finding individuals who manages to find gaps where there aren’t any. His double piece of the cake was met with icing on it from captain Lee Rowlands, who barged over the line to end a series of painful phases for the Rumney pack, who were by now leaking everywhere and almost submerged by the Penallta onslaught. When Jenkins intercepted a pass to stroll in for Penallta’s fifth try the score was 6-35 with twenty minutes left.

 

Rumney will likely finish in the top three this season. As they have proved over the years, they have the players and the threats to beat most sides at this level. The last ten minutes proved Rumney’s worth, as they took the game back to Penallta, playing some fine stuff and eventually  topping it off by scoring a consolation try on the final whistle. They can take solace in knowing that they haven’t gone backwards, instead it is Penallta who have lifted their game immensely since last season. Frighteningly for opposition teams, this Penallta side looks un-polished: it can grow into something special yet. Young fly-half Scrivens didn’t entirely hit his straps on Saturday, but he was willing to show off his usual box of tricks. Some of his running is sublime and opposition back-rows daren’t take their eye of him. He is the type of player Penallta love to bet the ranch on; unique and entertaining. On days when it goes to plan, Scrivens is a player who will create cricket scores.

 

The nuts and bolts were again provided by the brutally efficient front five. They not only have power, but moreover, incredible levels of fitness – Keiran Mahoney had an immense game at tight-head; his scrummaging allied to his cover tackling and hard running, especially in the second half, something to behold. Mahoney has now done over 10 years for Penallta firsts, three as captain, and is enjoying his return to life as a rugby-civilian by playing the best rugby of his life. He stole the man-of-the-match award from Keep and Fitzgerald, letting the young guns know the old heads still have plenty left to give. He is complemented by fellow veteran Rhys Silcox, one of the stalwart back-rowers from Penallta’s superb Swalec Cup winning side, and now back from long-term injury, settling into a second row berth from where he can run the lineout and provide flanker-level tackling. This is a huge asset for Penallta, as is the excellent form of hooker Gregg Haines. With these experienced guys at the helm, Penallta are ticking boxes in scrum, lineout, ruck area, defence and – most importantly of all – taking their chances. If fortune can remain their friend with injuries, they will be a difficult side to beat.

 

And there is back-up too. Penallta 2nds, more commonly known as F-Troop, also gained their fifth thumping win on the bounce, rubber-stamping the feeling of success around the club. From the bench against Rumney on Saturday both Lloyd Bridges and Garin Eldred, at prop and hooker respectively, pushed their claims for a start against Llanishen next week. Both are excellent young players with enough quality to succeed at this level and beyond. James Tucker is back too, an excellent second row option. He came on to the field Saturday for yet another appearance and his customary yellow card, leading Geraint Kettley to quip that “he’s been in more bins than Richard Silver”. Scrum half Josh Evans, fast becoming the spiritual leader of Penallta’s off-field shenanigans, made way for Aeron Bidgood on Saturday, but he knows he is playing the best rugby of his senior career. And the subs bench was completed by Laurence Pritchard, and how great it was to see him return to the club where his late father coached the likes of match-winner Elliott Keep. There was poetry to his comeback and to his performance too, his sabbatical away from Penallta doing nothing to diminish his flair and entertaining back play. The depth of talent is abundant.

 

Penallta are at home to struggling Llanishen next week and will have no clues about the Cardiff side, never having met them before. Then it is home to unbeaten Senghenydd, in what could be a top –two derby clash. These are exciting times for club, and even heading into the cold of the autumn there is a very rosy look to the Penallta garden.

 

Martyn Rowe

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