COMPETENT WIN FOR PENLAN
It was the first game of the new year with Penlan at home to Aberavon Green Stars on Saturday. On paper it was a game that Penlan should win as Aberavon had experienced a bad first half of the season and were lying in bottom table place. They had won just a single game and that had been the last fixture of 2016 when they had beaten Cwmavon away by 10 – 15.
Having narrowly lost their previous three games, the Penlan side could be nervous but, if they were they never showed it. Testament to their troubles, Aberavon had to opt for passive scrums from the off as they had no front row cover, which meant that they would not be able to field any replacements. Normally passive scrums tend to result in a poorer display of rugby for spectators but despite their problems the Stars were intent on making a game of it.
It was a dull misty day for the game as referee Mr.Jason Ludgate from Carmarthen got the match underway with Penlan making the kick off. Penlan put their stamp on the game from the start and got the first points at just 5 minutes when they had a lineout in the visitor’s 22. Flanker Ian Scrine secured the ball and it was quickly crossed into centre field. Centre Paul Spowart powered through to advance further before some fast passing moved to the wing where Captain Rob Green slid over the line at the corner for his fifth try of the season.
Some entertaining rugby followed with the sides testing each other. Penlan were playing to a measured team game but Aberavon had some choice players who constantly looked dangerous. Then, at just after 20 minutes, Penlan won their lineout in the Star’s 22. Their constant work advanced the ball to the goal line near the corner until second row Jack Hawkins powered over for his first Penlan try. Penlan were 10 points ahead and on a roll but for the rest of the first half Aberavon held them at bay and narrowed their deficit to 10 – 3 with a successful penalty kick at just after 30 minutes.
At half time Aberavon knew that they had a mountain to climb and to their credit they played with determination, never letting their heads drop.
Their spirits were challenged further though at just 8 minutes into the second half when Penlan advanced the ball well down the wing and crossed to the centre. They made an attack for the line until second-row Kurt Velardo darted over for Penlan try number three, his personal fourth of the season. Centre Paul Spowart ably kicked the conversion to advance Penlan to 17 – 3.
At about 15 minutes Penlan were on the attack again and advanced play well up the wing and across again. Scott Davies made a well timed pass to scrum-half Bobby Scrine who weaved through the defence to earn Penlan their try bonus point for four tries as he landed near the post. A second safe conversion from Paul Spowart put Penlan ahead to 24 – 3.
Despite the daunting lead, Aberavon continued to fight back with spirit and to be fair the score did not reflect their efforts and determination but the Penlan bandwagon was rolling. It was not until minutes before the final whistle that Penlan efforts paid dividends again. They were making a determined push for the goal-line but the visitors were effectively blocking their progress until a quick cross field pass by Ian Scrine got the ball to Paul Spowart who powered over the line for Penlan’s fifth try which left the score at 29 – 3 at the final whistle.
There had been a good display of rugby from both sides which had been well managed by referee Mr. Ludgate and although the score was a clear win for Penlan it was to their immense credit that Aberavon Green Stars had given Penlan a strong game despite their difficulties.
The win advances Penlan up two places in the table to fifth position just behind Resolven, with a game in hand on three of the teams ahead of them.
Next week Penlan will need to do more of the same when they have a re-arranged game away to Brynamman, the only game next week in 2 West Central. Despite presently lying in tenth position, Brynamman is likely to prove a challenge, especially with the home advantage and their hoping to bounce back from their 5 – 27 defeat at home to Tondu on Saturday. It will be their first meeting of the season, last year Penlan had lost narrowly away by 19 – 17 but had won at home by 18 – 9, so a close game is on the cards.
Thanks to our photographers as ever, Colin Rush’s pictures have been uploaded to our website and those from Mike Evans will be on his website in due couse see www.mike322.com
The other Division 2 West Central results are presently reported as :-
Brynamman 5 Tondu 27
Cwmavon v Nantymoel postponed
Maesteg Celtic 13 Cwmgors 8
Resolven 13 Morriston 10
Ystradgynlais 42 Pencoed 12
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