Blaenavon RFC | 1st Team 12 - 17 Penallta RFC | 1st Team
Ryan Davies
1 Try
Jon Wright
4 Penalty

Match Report
15 September 2014 / Team News

Pitmen dig in on the road!

Penallta made the trip to Blaenavon in cautious but optimistic mood - last weeks BP win against Fleur had gotten the season up and running but the Pitmen were under no illusions that as one of new boys to the division, Blaen would put up a stern test and would be looking to lay down a marker at home.
The starting line up featured a couple of changes, Rhys Silcox moved up into the boiler house with his place in the backrow taken by Rhys Fitzgerald. Josh Evans came in for Aeron Bidgood at scrum half and Lewis Barnett started in place of Andrew Jenkins at outside centre.
The Pitmen found themselves playing with both the slope and the wind in the first half and were eager to get some points on the board. After some solid set pieces early on Joe Scrivens looked to get the ball wide early and take advantage of the exciting backline at his disposal. Lewis Barnett looked dangerous with ball in hand and made several telling breaks. Under pressure, Blaenavon gave away a couple of penalties in quick succession and Jonny Wright stepped up to kick Pen into a 6 - 0 lead.
Blaenavon had a solid pack at their disposal and looked to get back into the game with some strong ball carriers. Penallta were defending well and competing at breakdown but were on the wrong end of the ref's whistle on several occasions. Ill discipline was taking it's toll and after several driving lineouts from kicks to the corner, Blaenavon eventually took the three points on offer to make the score 6 - 3.
After a frenetic opening 20 minutes the game began to settle down and there were several stoppages - notably for winger Gareth Edwards to received treatment to a gash above his eye following a cowardly cheapshot from the Blaen openside that went unseen by the officials. With tempers slightly raised, the game proceeded and following more good work from Lewis Barnett to get outside the defence and stay in the field of play (Just!), fullback Ryan Davies crossed in the corner. With the conversion missed the score moved on to 11 - 3.
After the restart and a brief kicking duel - Ryan Davies began a mazy run that was halted by a high tackle from the covering winger for which he saw a yellow card. The passage of play also saw Luke Purnell leave the field (Dead leg) to be replaced by James Tucker. Penallta pressed for another score before half time - conscious that the elements were not in their favour in the second half and an 8 point lead was slender at best. Following more pressure and another line break, a Blaen defender pulled back 2nd row James Tucker as he was about to take what looked like a scoring pass. The referee did not hesitate to reach for another yellow and reduced the home side to 13 men. With the penalty under the sticks, Jonny Wright slotted it and Penallta went in with a 14 - 3 lead - but would it be enough against the elements in the second half?
The game restarted with Pen looking to capitalise on the reduced number of home defenders. But Blaen took the sting of out of the game and put in some excellent territorial kicks, using the slope and the wind to great effect and were back to 15 men without looking troubled and even managed to secure a penalty from more Penallta ill discipline which was kicked to chip away the Penallta lead, 14 - 6. Worryingly for the Pitmen, the tone appeared to be set for the second half......
Penallta looked to re-establish the high tempo which they brought to the first half but despite some good work across both forwards and backs, the final pass was not sticking and frustrations began to grow. Following some foul play at a ruck and the shrill blast of the ref's whistle - hooker Greg Haynes was sent to the sin bin and Pen were down to 14 men.  Blaen began to turn the screw and looked to play off their impressive inside centre and with their fullback offering an excellent kicking option with the wind, turned the Pitmen at every opportunity. From a deep kick into Penallta territory, an Elliott Keep counter attack was hauled back after the ref awarded a very dubious forward pass. After the resulting scrum and more pressure, another Penallta infringement saw the referee award a penalty. The volume of penalties was growing and the home crowd howled for another yellow card. With the Blaen kicker making no mistake, the arrears were reduced further to bring the score to 14 - 9. With 20 minutes to go the home support began to find their voice and the traveling fans began to look nervous.
Following the restart, things went from bad to worse for the Pitmen. Lewis Barnett was brought down in midfield and following a blast from the ref's whistle play was immediately halted and, following a reoccurrence of a knee problem, it was clear that the youngster would take no further part in the game. Following a 15 minute stoppage, he was stretchered off the field to resounding applause and replaced by influential centre Andrew Jenkins. From the restart Blaen continued to apply the pressure and a moment of madness saw a swinging arm from 2nd row James Tucker leave the ref with no option but to reach for the yellow card and reduce Penallta to 13 players. The resulting penalty brought the score to 14 - 12.
in the space of 6-7 minutes of game time - Penallta had been reduced to 13 men and been pegged back to a solitary two point lead. Things looked grim for the Pitmen. Slightly stunned, Penallta launched a good attack and to ironic applause, the ref penalised the home side and Jonny Wright stepped up to kick an excellent 40m penalty that offered some brief respite but still left the home team within 5 points and with their tails firmly up.
The Pitmen knew that the final 10 minutes would see everything chucked at them and the home side did not disappoint. More great kicking put the strong Blaen pack in pole position to catch and drive several times, but the young Penallta pack did not take a backwards step and some ferocious tackling repeatedly stopped the home side in their tracks. Penallta's first yellow card returned to the field and Blaen knew that time was running out. They continued to batter the Penallta line, more great defence kept them out but the away side could not clear their lines. A series of scrums followed on the Pen line that saw Jonny Wright lend his (greatly reduced) frame to the scrum and somehow Blaen were kept at bay.
With 5 minutes left, Penallta were restored to 15 men - with Garin Eldred entering the fray at hooker and Andre Soroko coming on for Gareth Edwards. Blaen knew it was now or never and continued to attack ferociously. Following some outstanding work at the breakdown, which saw Soroko knocked out cold, Penallta secured a penalty and with a couple of minutes left on the clock knew that they had weathered the storm. After Soroko had been helped from the field, Scrivens kicked to touch and following some tight pick and drives, scrum half Josh Evans took great delight in smashing the ball into touch and sealed a battling 17 - 12 win for the Pitmen.
After the dust had settled the Penallta players and coaches knew that they had done well to come away with the win. Lots to work on in training but one thing that was not in doubt was the willingness of this young team to slog it out when the going got tough and dig in for each other and the badge. There were a lot of proud faces applauding the team off the field at the end. Well done boys.

After the game Coach Matthew Tucker commented: "We are very pleased with a win, it's not the way we want to win week in week out, however it's a win. We knew this would be a tough place to win, but to be league contenders these are the places we need to come and win. We prepared very well this week addressing our ruck area and defence. We certainly saw a huge improvement in both areas today. Credit must go to all players today. Their attitude and want was unquestionable. Now to build for the Quins, another new team to the league that we know very little about and will not be under estimating. As coaches we realise that we are an established club at this level and are a big scalp and therfore we must be on top of our game.

Credit to Blaenavon, they were a solid outfit who will cause teams a lot of problems this year. All the best for the season.
Everyone at Penallta wishes Lewis Barnett a speedy recovery. Off the bench last week and In the 50 odd minutes he was on the pitch yesterday, he gave the Penallta faithful a taste of why he is seen as one of the most exciting talents to come out of our youth system for years. Chin up Barney.
Trinity Fields sees Penallta entertain another new face in Cardiff Quins next week. Quins secured a dramatic last minute win against Rumney yesterday - many peoples favourites for the league this year. Again, the Pitmen will be expecting a tough test. Come along and support the boys!




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