Panthers caught in grizzly Bears trap
11:54am Wednesday 11th September 2013 in Sport
Ladies Rugby - Division Three South
Bargoed Bears 25 Penybanc Panthers 7
Penybanc Panthers travelled to the heart of the valleys for their first away game of the season.
It was clear from the off that Bargoed would look to exploit the considerable size difference between the sides to overpower the sleeker and more nimble Panthers.
The tactic brought them early reward as the home prop crashed over from tight play after six minutes.
The Panthers regrouped and looked to run their heavier opposition with ball in hand.
The strategy paid dividends for the young team, but at the breakdown the Bears proved too strong and turned over the ball on several occasions.
A Panthers line-out on their own five-metre line was stolen and the hosts set up a well-worked drive over the line to make it 10-0 on 19 minutes.
But Penybanc refused to lay down and the influential Sophie Mangano rallied her forwards and showed the way forward with a series of brilliant solo runs. Her determination inspired the side and the Panthers showed their grit, competing for every inch of grass.
An excellent period of play saw Brittony Price dance her way to the line, bypassing several Bears, to score from a well-worked blindside move. The ever dependable Catrin Rees converted with an impressive kick and suddenly the visitors were back in the game, seeing out several periods of sustained pressure to end the half trailing 10-7.
The second half was a far more even affair with the Bears looking to power their way to victory from tight play while the Panthers tried to release their pocket rockets – Vicky Gibbons and Ceri Thomas on the wings.
On 66 minutes, a Bargoed scrum on the Panthers’ 22 resulted in several phases of tight carries which culminated in the home prop powering over from short-range.
To their credit, the Panthers rallied again and threw everything at the Bears, with Dayna Mempham and Lowri Chapman working hard to secure clean ball while Holly Roderick and Darcy Hardy tirelessly ran at their opposite numbers in the backs.
However, the constant pressure on the Panthers eventually took its toll and the hosts were able to claim two late tries as their powerful forwards were able to break through some tired Panthers tackles.
Despite the defeat, there were several inspired performances for the visitors, including young debutant Lucy Rosselle who impressed in her first senior game at hooker while inspirational captain Gemma Davies gave everything for her team.
The strong running of Nerys Jenkins, Fran Dallavelle, and Jodie Lewis also offered much for the future while star performer Mangano again ran her socks off.
Panthers head coach Hywel Thomas said: “Considering we are such a new team, our defence was superb and the girls can take a lot from today’s experience.
“To be in the game until the last quarter is a real credit to them.”
This weekend, the Panthers host Haverfordwest.